I like the Next Act pub. I like the location. I like the food. I like eating there with Sarah and Tom (even if we don’t go enough). So when the same group of cool peeps behind Next Act opened a hipster bbq restaurant called MEAT next door, I had high hopes. You see, it took Edmonton a long time to get real deal bbq and now it’s almost like plaid shirts at a Bahamas concert. You see BBQ absolutely everywhere.
Thankfully, where most BBQ places have gone with a classic, almost kitschy, feel MEAT has opted for something different. Located a hop and skip from Whyte Avenue, the open restaurant is wrapped in blue and white. Every time I eat at MEAT, I can’t help but think the colour palette gives the space a bit of a nautical feel. Add a handful of friendly staff members wearing stripped shirts and we are mere minutes away from busting out into a Popeye themed Broadway flash-mob. The no-reservation restaurant greets you with raised tables in the ‘bar’ section. Just a few feet further is the main part of the restaurant with an assortment of family style seating and more romantic two tops for couples and friends alike.
The still-growing trend of family style eating is alive and well at Meat. The menu gives you 1/2 and 1 pound meat options as well as an assortment of sides (which can be had in small or larger portions). You’ll also find a few sandwiches on the menu, one of which includes a vegetarian option for those who don’t rock the meat but want to partake in the delicious smokey smells of meat.
I’ve been numerous times now and have yet to order any of the sandwiches. It makes no sense when ordering mounds of meat is both fun and interactive. On my most recent visit, the tray pictured includes 1 lb of brisket, 1/2 lb of pulled pork, 2 hot links, and 1/2 lb of turkey. The turkey was part of their most recent menu change and was described on this occasion as their special of the day. All the sides below are small orders, and include the brussel sprouts, creamed corn, macaroni and cheese, and rosemary sweet potato mash (also a new menu option). BBQ in my mind isn’t complete without pickles and bread, so two of each were added to the order. Yes, bread and pickles are extra.
Like every other visit to MEAT, the brisket is king here. It has the right mix of texture, fat, and flavour. The pulled pork adds meat bulk, but pales in comparison to the beefy brisket. The hot links are good (especially with the mustard BBQ sauce) and the smoked turkey was both juicy and delicious. Speaking of sauces, trays of 4 sauces are strategically placed through the restaurant. They include the above mentioned Mustard, as well as a Cherry, Spicy, and Bourbon sauce. This choose your own adventure sauce game is the only way to have BBQ as it allows for personal tastes and preferences to affect the outcome of deliciousness. The sides are good and usually hit the spot. The brussel sprouts and mac n/ cheese were my favourite of the night, but the creamed corn and sweet potato did a good enough job to not be overlooked. The pickles and bread. Well, the pickles have snap and the bread does it’s carby job.
At the end of the day, I think MEAT did a great job of expanding the atmosphere and quality of Next Act. High quality BBQ near/on Whyte Ave has success written all over it. I’ve never once eaten at MEAT without the room being 3/4 packed and it’s a go to recommendation for people when they visit. So I have no doubt that the restaurant will continue to be filled with wide assortment of locals and travelers looking for beer, meat sweats, and pecan pie.