Meat Wagon at the Rye

Having missed out on the legendary Meat Wagon when it was at its original home in New Cross I decided I must sample it when I discovered they had set up a kitchen down the road at one of my locals, The Rye on Peckham Rye Common, and find out whether the rumours were true and whether it is the best and meatiest burger around.

The Rye itself had a very relaxed atmosphere and on entering we were greeted by friendly staff at the small bar. The décor was certainly going for the ‘shabby chic’ look with purposeful distressed wallpaper on the walls and rubbed down paint surfaces on the bar and floor. There was a mixture of styles with the table and chairs, which were quite crammed together but this gave it an intimate feel. There is a massive beer garden at the back, had it not been a cold day we would have been out there but the roaring fire inside was more appealing.

I thought I should try a local ale and was instantly attracted to one called the Beaver. The bartender was kind enough to let me sample some and I was sold on it straight away. It definitely had a fruity flavour to it, which is probably why I was a fan. I should probably comment here that I am not an experienced ale drinker just like the occasional dabble. I discovered that this beer was brewed locally in one of their sister pubs The Florence, in Herne Hill. It was described on the pump as ‘fresh, floral, slightly spicy and a little satsumery,’ it was certainly refreshing and was a good accompaniment to wash down the burger.

I was not very adventurous in my choice of burger. I went for the bacon cheeseburger and my boyfriend went for the ‘Dead Hippie,’ which is apparently their take on the ‘Big Mac.’ I have to admit I was a bit feeble in that I ate it with a knife and fork but I wanted to sample every layer together. The meat was thick and tender and cooked perfectly for me being red in the middle. It crumbled and melted in the mouth. The cheese was properly melted to the burger. I did struggle though to taste the bacon. My boyfriend seemed to enjoy his ‘Dead Hippie,’ as it was quickly demolished, although apparently it was not as good as the original ‘Big Mac’ (I hope he was joking).

We ordered chips and coleslaw on the side. The chips were just the way I like them, thin and crispy and were a generous portion, unlike in other Burger joints. The coleslaw was delicious and was crunchy and mustardy.

Overall was definitely one of the best burgers I have had and lived up to the hype. It was all served in a white metal plates with blue rim, which made the experience more primal as burger eating should be, rather than delivered as a gourmet dish. The Rye’s vibe seems to be the perfect location for this food ethic to be housed.

By @immyshephard



The Local

Bailey, one half of Boak and Bailey, recounts his quest for the perfect local.

Have you ever lived in a place without a local? Somewhere where there is no pub you feel at home in — nowhere you can go, just for one pint, after dinner on a dreary winter Wednesday, and be greeted with a cheery hello?

When I used to live in South London, my flatmate and I would spend ages trudging about the area trying on different pubs for size, hoping to come across one where we’d actually feel comfortable. Unfortunately, to a greater or lesser extent, they all resembled the Mos Eisley cantina from Star Wars.

The nearest pub was just macabre. It had a skeleton made of cigarette ends hanging on the wall (really) and our conversation would frequently be drowned out by Scandinavian coach parties singing along to the resident Hammond organist. (No, I don’t understand why they were there either.)

The next one was so quiet and in such poor repair that we didn’t even realise it was still trading for several months until we happened to notice the door open one day. The windows were fly-blown; the net curtains were nicotine-stained to the colour of antique pine; and it smelled like damp trainers. We managed one pint there.

Finally, there was a pub built into the bottom of a block of flats where the landlord told us that, if we didn’t support Millwall, we should get out while we still could walk. This wasn’t banter: he really was worried about our safety and didn’t want blood on the lino.

Ten years later, I was living in Walthamstow in East London, where I found a proper local. This is London we’re talking about, of course, so no-one was going over the top with the friendliness, but they at least recognised us from one visit to the next. The beer was great and the range kept expanding. Most importantly, there was no post-work grump so severe it couldn’t be cured by a trip there. It was a happy place.
If you’re lucky enough to have a good local, cherish it, and show your love the best way there is: by going there lots and buying plenty of beer.

Supermarket beer sales overtake pub beer sales for first time

British drinkers are about to consume more beer from supermarkets than from pubs for the first time, as millions stay away from their local. 

The figures come just two weeks after a report suggested that visits to local pubs had fallen by 19pc in the last year, further threatening the future of one of the great British institutions.

Back in the 1970s more than 90pc of all beer drunk in Britain was bought from the “on trade” – pubs and clubs, with less than 10pc brought from the “off trade” of supermarkets and off-licences.

To read more click here.


Billy Abbott, author of Billy’s Booze Blog, shares his love of the local…

I like my flat. As I write I’m sitting on the balcony, 6 floors up, surveying the leafier end of West London with the Wembley arch looking surprisingly big, as it does. It’s a short walk from work, has a bus that goes to town from right outside the door and is mainly inhabited by lovely people. But there’s something missing – a local.
We used to have one, a community centre and bar in the next building over from me, but despite its excellent restaurant, alright pint of Guinness and patronage by the people of the estate it is now closed. This is the first time I’ve lived somewhere without a local pub of some kind, and it feels a bit weird.
As a kid my Dad and Grandfather were linchpins of the local’s darts team, until “The Incident” when they were barred and took half the team with them. We went for a swift half in the beer garden, rain or shine, every Sunday while lunch was cooking and I still have a fondness for drinking Coke through too-thin straws thanks to those afternoons. When I came to London I lived next to my University student union and it sat at the centre of my social life. When I moved one of the key factors in choosing a place to live was what the local would be like – I still look on the Prince Alfred in Bayswater fondly, despite their love of a certain rubbish AC/DC covers band that occasionally drove us elsewhere.
When my friends and I spread to the four corners of the world we still had our local – a pub nominated so that no matter when we were visiting you could be fairly certain that someone would be propping up the bar on a Thursday night waiting for a chat. When the landlord and landlady moved on we went with them and still make pilgrimages to see TJ and Christine in their new home. When I last moved the biggest wrench was no longer having Ealing’s excellent Red Lion, untouched in the recent riots, a mere 2 minutes walk from my door…
However, it strikes me that my current lack is my own fault. I need to make the effort, go for a walk and find my new local. There are candidates but I’ve been too lazy to go and try them out, other than a cursory pint and a glance at their bar menu. It’s a sunny afternoon with a promise of rain later – what better a time to go and do some investigation. Especially as I’ve just been chased inside by a wasp.

Milk vending machine a great hit at pub

A licensee in Staffordshire has installed a vending machine outside his pub after the local council refused him permission to open a shop on the premises.


Vending machine: selling 40 gallons of milk a day

Peter Wilkinson, of the Raddle Inn in Hollington, believes that “pubs need to diversify” to survive cheap alcohol deals in supermarkets and attract younger customers back in.

The vending machine, which is monitored by CCTV, serves bread, milk, eggs, bacon and butter. Wilkinson told the Publican’s Morning Advertiser it is currently selling 40 gallons of milk per week.

“Pubs need to offer something different with supermarkets selling cheap drink”, said Wilkinson.

He added: “A lot of young people don’t see the pub as a meeting place anymore because they can contact each other using their mobile phones.”

To read more click here.