Richard Miller re-lives his childhood at a new burger place
In some ways I’m the wrong person to be banging on about burgers.
Sure, I was there for the patty party that erupted in the heady days of the early-2010s, but my main recollection is of damp food with daft names. It wasn’t for me.
One of life’s small pleasures is a hot chip dredged through cold mayonnaise, so I am saddened by my crisp but tepid fries.
On the flip side (pun absolutely intended), I was born and reared in the ‘80s, when a weekend pilgrimage to one of the Holy Trinity (Maccy D’s, Burger King, Wimpy if we had to) was an infrequent but thrilling treat. Those beige disks of mystery meat. The solitary unloved gherkin. The mate who’d bagged a Saturday job and would upgrade your order on the sly. Great days.
So perhaps I am, in fact, perfectly qualified to offer some words on Meat:Stack, the new place that’s snaked down the A1 from its Newcastle homestead and opened round the corner from Leeds train station. For here, bearing its “Real American Cheeseburgers” strapline, is a welcome throwback to simpler burger times.
Just look at the room. Bright, wipe-clean and with a colour scheme that could be patented as “Wimpy Red”. Stepping inside, I am 10 years old and hungry for a Happy Meal.
The menu, perched on the counter, gets to the point. You know the drill. It skews heavily towards the bovine with a couple of chicken and veggie options thrown in. A laminated copy on the table would be handy, not least to prevent my gormless gurning in front of the fella behind the counter who waits patiently while I do the mental arithmetic on the various deals available.
Side dishes are mainly riffs on fries - your filthies, your parmesan truffles - but they also include chicken tenders (£5.75 including dip) that we, with delusions of grandeur, deploy as a proxy starter. Their casing, deeply ridged, achieves maximum levels of crunch, while the brined bird within is, as promised, steamingly tender. The accompanying chipotle BBQ sauce is either authentically thin or accidentally watery but does carry a long-lasting smokiness.
Burger-wise, the more intrepid could opt for the Yellowstone, replete with hash brown and baconnaise, or the French Canadian, with its garlic butter and chilli maple syrup, but I go normcore with a West Coast Classic. (£7.50)
Smashed flat, fried until buff and then steamed until meat and cheese become one analogous entity, here is a joyfully simple but substantial handful. Pleasingly, I bite into a small nugget of rich fat, which suggests some diligent sourcing and butchering of the beast. A layer of cheese is just tacky enough, and the bun, lightly toasted, carries more substance than the ubiquitous and brittle brioche.
Strips of snappy, streaky bacon and a good whack of warming French’s mustard elevate the Quarter Pounder double (£8) by fifty pence, and while I’m not sure where or what the advertised green relish is, nor am I too fussed. These burgers are beauties and Ronnie McD would approve.
One of life’s small pleasures is a hot chip dredged through cold mayonnaise, so I am saddened by my crisp but tepid fries. (£2.50) However, they do offer heaps of gamey beef dripping flavour, and a dunk within the tangy depths of a signature buffalo dip livens them up. (£1.75)
The triple cheese artery-busters come with a heap of claggy sauce, a grating of pungent parmesan and melting strands of luminous Red Leicester. It is a queso quagmire and there is nothing wrong with that. (£5)
Alongside all of this, we swig pints of murky Meat:Stack pale (£4.95), decent enough but with that coppery aftertaste akin to having licked a battery. The fridges are loaded with local North Brewing Co options which is what I’ll opt for next time.
A short list of ice cream provides our dessert choices. Granted, no bowl of soft-serve is going to come close to the delights of a Gummy Bear McFlurry, but the pot of chocolate and hazelnut that we conclude our trashy tea with, luxuriously thick and melting into a pool of milkshake-y mess, is a sound effort. (£3.50)
I enjoyed Meat:Stack for its old-school burgers, for its handy location, and for not shouting too loudly about itself. If the Burger Games are to rumble on, let there be more Meat:Stacks.
Meat:Stack, 3 Bishopgate Street, LS1 5DY
Follow Richard on Twitter @eatingthenorth
All scored reviews are unannounced, impartial, paid for by Confidentials and completely independent of any commercial relationship. They are a first-person account of one visit by one, knowledgeable restaurant reviewer and don't represent the company as a whole.
Venues are rated against the best examples of their type: 1-5: saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9: Netflix and chill, 10-11: if you’re passing, 12-13: good, 14-15: very good, 16-17: excellent, 18-19: pure class, 20: cooked by God him/herself.
Chicken Tenders 8, Classic Double 8, Quarter Pounder 8, Beef Dripping fries 7.5, Triple Cheese Fries 7.5, BBQ Dip 6, Buffalo Dip 7, Meat Stack Pale 6, Softserve 8
Patient and pacy.
None of that dude-food nonsense.