A smoking new bar and kitchen concept has brought a uniquely British take on the barbecue to the Old York Road in Wandsworth…
Words: Madeleine Howell
The new MeatUp grill bar and kitchen in Wandsworth Town promises a fresh take on the great British barbecue, bringing fine and lesser known cuts of meat such as deckle and onglet to the table via the josper oven – with a healthy side order of live DJs and creative cocktails.
We’re particularly fond of the Wandsworth Village, a twist on a Porn Star Martini. It’s a clever concoction of Belvedere vodka with Chambord and homemade pomegranate syrup, blended with egg white to take on a mousse-like consistency – and then served with a shot of Prosecco and borage flowers.
But cocktails aside, the main event at MeatUp is the food. Head Chef Stephen Hinkley keeps a ‘little black book’ of secret recipes, and it’s these twists that give the menu the edge. The barbecue sauce, for example, has just a hint of bitter espresso, and his signature red slaw is a deliciously fresh combination of red cabbage, purple carrots, radish, red onions, red chillies and red peppers.
‘I like making fire,’ laughs MeatUp Head Chef Stephen Hinkley
‘Everything on the menu is my responsibility, my dish and my recipe,’ he says proudly. What is it about barbecue food that he can’t get enough of? ‘Fire. I like making fire,’ he laughs. ‘We work with the London Log Company with sustainable wood and charcoal. It’s the combination of those, and of getting the temperature just right, that gives flavour to the meat. It involves a lot of trial and error.’
Hinkley has always been in charge of the barbecue at home, he admits. When we catch up, he’s just back from Meatopia – a ‘carnivore’s carnival’ – down at Tobacco Dock, frequented by the likes of Yotam Ottolenghi, and with a line-up including Duck & Waffle and Kitty Fisher’s.
‘Every year I work with different people,’ Hinkley tells me. ‘Recently I’ve been working with the chef Andre Lima de Luca, who is king of the Brazilian barbecue. Roka were there representing Japan, and now we want to fly the British flag with MeatUp.’
Hinkley’s short rib is a favourite, and takes a lot of nurturing to get just right. The meat is butchered in house, marinaded, and then cooked slow and low, smoked overnight, and finished off with a tempting maple and chilli glaze. It’s sticky, but still delicate.
Dining at MeatUp is a sociable experience, and the generous platters of roast vegetables and boards are made for sharing. People can also dine on the open kitchen counter, where Hinkley is happy to give recommendations. He’s even planning a few butchery demos in the space, which is warm and welcoming, and filled with natural light.
You can rest assured that all the meat is grass-fed, and at least 20 months old. Hinkley favours pure breeds, like Hereford, Longhorn and Angus. ‘I’ve even started ageing the meat in house,’ he says. ‘We can have the likes of a 35-day aged bone in Hereford sirloin, which is pretty exciting.’
Wine-wise, there are premium vintages available by the glass – so if you’re just popping by for a steak on a week night, you can indulge in a truly decent glass of Malbec. The burgers are another stand-out offering – made in house, of course – with short rib, brisket and chuck. Even the buns are baked with Hinkley’s own recipe. ‘We don’t just use brioche buns like half of London,’ he jibes.
There’s also excellent lobster and shellfish dishes on the menu, but make sure to save room for dessert. Most of the puddings, again, are to be found in Hinkley’s secret recipe book (‘it’s where the magic is’). The brownie is chocolatey goodness kept simple, and for the sticky toffee pudding, Hinkley cooks the fruit up in Earl Grey first. ‘The processes are very old school,’ he says. ‘We make all the meringues fresh for our Eton mess using yolks from our homemade hollandaise.’
With a louder crowd at weekends and a brunch offering featuring Eggs Benedict with smoked, shredded ham hock to boot, MeatUp is a family friendly, neighbourhood restaurant (there’s also a kids menu) with an incredibly well-thought out menu and a fun vibe. Bring out the barbie.
350 Old York Road SW18 1SS; 020 8425 0017; meatupgrill.com