Meatopia Festival Epitomizes London’s Latest Food Trend
A weekend festival celebrating meat that was conceived by an American has turned into a can’t-miss annual event in London. Entering its third year, Meatopia was concocted by the late Josh Ozersky, formerly the restaurant editor of Esquire and a James Beard Award-winning writer. Described as a “weekend-long love affair of meat, drink, fire and music,” Meatopia works with chefs from across the globe to create and serve signature dishes with, you guessed it, a variety of animal meats.
Look around, line-up and eat. On September 19 and 20, London’s Tobacco Dock hosts restaurants from all across the world, who will be setting up shop in miniature form and offering curated menus of their finest fare. A wonderland of cuts and grade, and a place where excess is bliss, expect to see the likes of a 4.5-ton, custom-built Texas BBQ smoker or entire spatch-cocked chickens gyrating atop a grill. It’s a rich and sensory experience, so enter open-minded and empty stomached.
Playing to our primal urges (fire, meat, sated), Meatopia is just the tip of a growing trend. London is newly pocketed with meat-centric menus aplenty. Tredwells in Covent Garden, the casual offshoot created by two-Michelin-starred chef Marcus Wareing, has just unveiled a series of BBQ and bourbon elements; don’t miss the Smoked Baby Back Ribs with Bourbon Glaze. (Wareing also taught Sienna Miller and Bradley Cooper a few kitchen pointers in preparation for their new foodie film Burnt.)
The first Burger and Lobster opened in London 2012. Now, there are seven. The concept could not be simpler—the menu has a burger, a whole lobster or a lobster roll only, and they cost $20 each. People still line up around the block to get in.
And then there’s Meat Liquor, Meat Market, Meat Mission and Meat Wagon (all part of the same group). Pinnacles of the Meat Liquor menu include the Tower Block Burger (a fried chicken fillet with cheese, hash brown, jalapenos, slaw, onions and Russian dressing) or the Dead Hippie (two French’s mustard-fried beef patties, secret dead hippie sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles and minced white onions).
Both Meat Liquor (and company) and Burger & Lobster operate a no-reservations policy; these are no-frills, democratic establishments, but they’ve caught hold of a market with a vice grip and won’t let go anytime soon. On any given evening, their sizeable wooden tables swell with hip 30-somethings, young couples out on dates, slick city boys loosening their ties and kicking back a beer and a burger, and perhaps a family in London for the day. So put down your green juice and bite into a burger. Everyone else is.
Bridget Arsenault is the associate editor, print and digital at Vanity Fair UK. and the co-director of the Bright Young Things Film Club. She covers the U.K. beat for Travel + Leisure; follow her on Twitter at @bridget_ruth.