Some of the hottest openings in recent years have come from Pirata Group – The Optimist, Pici, Pirata and TokyoLima – and now here’s their latest, MEATS, a “meat bar” carving up both traditional and more unconventional cuts of meat in a range of cooking styles with a no-booking, no-service-charge philosophy.
If you’ve been to the charming confines of Pici, you’ll feel the similarities here with the indoor/outdoor shuttered windows and counter-style eating overlooking the kitchen for plenty of side-by-side dining opportunities where you always feel like you can have the best conversation. So think about that for your next date. There are also comfy booths and lots of candles, cool-mood music from the likes of Barry White, CCR and Janis Joplin and Nacho, the restaurant manager who really knows his stuff and is an informed and charismatic host. Oh and they gave us tweezers to eat with – not sure why, but we had fully embraced them by the end of the meal.
Head Chef Paddy McDermott was happened upon, as Pirata Group co-founder Manual Palacio describes, as something of a lucky accident. And serendipitous it was – man, can this guy cook. The Glaswegian chef grew up eating unconventional cuts of meat and he knows just what to do with them. For example, beef tongue was a staple in his household, in stews and sandwiches, so he is something of a pro at getting the best out of it. He sous-vides the beef tongue here to get rid of the toughness and bring out the juicy flavour.
Chef McDermott serves beef tongue with crispy garlic, coriander and chilli ($75) that’ll silence the toughest of tongue critics.
This divine union here is a dreamy, creamy chicken liver pâté ($140) with caviar-like sherry vinegar pearls for a hit of acidity along with subtle cacao hints. It’s a novel and pretty rockin’ combination.
These chicken croquettes ($90) are a good-looking duo with a great outer crunch that gave way to a slightly cloying interior. This was really the only dish we didn’t personally love, but consensus around the table was that others seemed to dig it.
This is a mixture of cured duck egg yolk with pickled mustard seeds and beef tartare served with beef tendon crisps ($150).Yes, beef tendon crisps and, yes, they go together like mmm and hmmm.
The Iberian presa ($170) is the shoulder cut of pork and it was played up with black garlic and miso butter, along with a Sichuan-style crackling for a soft, perfectly pink, beautifully crusted dish.
The Iberian porchetta ($180) is slow-roasted and enlivened with a green herb salsa for a juicy and crackly bite that results in a time-slowed-down-because-it’s-so-good kind of chew.
We adored the heritage carrots ($80) with za’atar, honey and dollops of yoghurt and found ourselves referencing them in conversations later. It's ironic given the restaurant name, but the veg held court with the gorgeous meats we ate.
Served up with sourdough, the bone marrow ($120) was topped with a harmonious dusting of tarragon breadcrumbs.
Watermelon came as a surprise in the heirloom salad with pickled cucumber and ricotta ($95), but not an unwelcome one.
One of the eatery’s most popular choices since they’ve first opened, the hanger steak ($160) didn’t disappoint, with the tender meat benefiting from the subtly glorious jalapeño salsa.
The smell when this came to the table! Onion and spice and chicken and rice! The fried rice ($65) is reason enough to come to MEATS. After my first bite, I didn’t even want to have a sip of my delightful old-fashioned after (which is saying something) as I wanted the taste to stay in my mouth forever and ever. It comes with a meat of the day inside – ours had chicken and a bit of beef, and then there was a deadly sriracha mayo under the fried egg on top.
The café mocha ($75) consists of some lovely, lovely ingredients that include an espresso sponge with Patrón XO and coffee crémeux.
A beautiful way to finish: the tart lime curd with shards of meringue and a killer coconut ice cream ($80).
There is so much to love here: the carrots, for one, were a triumph of a vegetable dish, as were the ugly potatoes. There is the potential for this to be an incredible addition to Pirata Group with its delicious cuisine, fairly reasonable pricing, easy location and very cool, comfortable setting. In short, we loved it. The only thing holding us back from full praise is, as Juliet so eloquently stated: “O, be some other name!” By any other word MEATS would taste as sweet – certainly meat will not disappear from our diets anytime soon, but we can’t help thinking that flaunting meat, instead of carefully considering the meats we do eat, seems a bit of a regression from the way we need to be thinking.
28–30 Staunton Street, SoHo, Central, 2711 1812
This write-up is based on a complimentary media tasting provided in exchange for an honest review and no monetary compensation. The opinions expressed here represent the author’s.