We couldn’t resist trying MEAT Eatery and Taproom in Boca Raton, a new comfort food restaurant promising to be one of the most unique burger stops in Boca. The location alone is quite interesting, but the concept might need a few tweaks.
MEAT Eatery and Taproom is located inside of the Cendyn Spaces complex which is a ‘hybrid’ workSPACE concept. This understand this means many businesses are working under one roof with top technology and a feel of Silicon Valley.
Parking for the restaurant appears to be mostly in the back and being a Saturday, we didn’t have any problems finding a spot. The restaurant itself is quite small with a bar area facing some TV’s and a long seating separate bar-type table. They also have tables outside in the building’s atrium as well. The overall look of the place is a cool industrial vibe with metal and ‘faux brick’ and actually quite a comfortable spot to hang out. We can imagine that weekday lunch is quite busy and might have a whole other feel though.
MEAT Eatery and Taphouse is a ‘fast casual’ restaurant, meaning that you order at the counter and they will bring your food and beers out to your table when ready. We did see that this might end up causing some issues for them. More than a few customers assumed it was full table service and one larger party even insisted that they be waited on at their table. While I will try not to give away the end result of our review, we feel that the prices and vibe don’t mix with a fast casual concept. The prices are on the high side and it looks more like a full service spot too.
We decided to sit at the bar so we would have easier access to ordering. We scoped out the many craft beers on tap (12 in total) and ordered two right away. The server was very nice explaining ‘when you’re ready to order, come down to this register and we will bring the food to you’. You also get a ‘playing card’ to help the team identify the tables, which didn’t really seem to work that well. We scooted down so we could be right by the register making it easy to order our food and more beers.
The menu is very large with some very unique burgers and side items. The usual condiments are not usual here. The ketchup is a mango chipotle mix and the mustard has caraway flavor. We found the duck fat fries a definite try along with the beer cheese soup. They make most of the items ‘in house’, even the bacon and sausages and even have some lobster choices. We did notice that you can really pump up the final bill by picking additional toppings (like the extra bacon pictured below), so be careful. We both picked out two appetizers, which came out in about five minutes.
Wisconsin Beer Cheese Soup ($5) – Topped with house made bacon bits. This was Jeff’s choice of course since he’s all about cheese and bacon. The soup only comes in the size of a cup and we felt it was just the right size. We liked the slightly sharp cheesy flavor and the bacon bits were really good. We did notice that the texture was a bit gritty and expected it to be a bit smoother.
House Made Pork Rinds ($5) – served with a Chimichurri Aioli. The presentation was really nice and we both liked the cast iron skillet used to hold them. They were dusted with something that gave it a bit of a kick. We expected them to come out a bit warm, maybe freshly made to order, but these were not. While they were still crisp, you could tell they were pre-made earlier. The star of this dish was the Chimichurri Aioli. It had a lot of depth in flavor and we liked it so much we saved it to use later with our main orders.
While we waited for our burgers, we got to see all of the confusion about the ordering process and it looked like the staff had a challenge satisfying everyone’s requests. The large party that requested table service seemed to throw off the flow and it did look like the kitchen was making a few mistakes with incomplete orders. It also looked like one of the servers was still training, so that could also be something to consider.
Inside-Out Juicy Lucy Burger ($12) – 6 oz Pimento Cheese & Bacon stuffed Angus Burger topped with American cheese, lettuce & tomato. The burger looked awesome, down to the ‘MEAT’ brand in the bun. One strange thing we noticed is that the burger didn’t fill the whole bun. It was on the thicker side, but it almost looked like a meatball on a bun. I ordered it medium and they cooked it perfectly, which I give them points for.
The bacon and cheese stuffed part of the burger didn’t really work for me though. I couldn’t tell there was bacon in it at all, maybe because of all the cheese. The flavor of the meat itself was spot on and we both liked it. The bun, however needed work as it seemed to crumble as you ate it and didn’t hold together at all. We both liked the duck fat fries a lot. They were crisp and dusted with a seasoning we really liked. These fries didn’t need ketchup, although that is house made too – Mango chipotle flavored.
The Lumbergher ($13.50) – 8 oz Angus Patty with Blue Cheese, House-made bacon and Beer Braised onions. This patty was bigger than the one I ordered and fit the bun as expected, but he bun still fell apart. The burger was cooked to a perfect medium temperature and the bacon was a great addition. The blue cheese was on the mild side and didn’t really lend any flavor, so we could have went without.
The lettuce on the burgers is shredded which we found strange given that most burgers are priced between $9-$19. Jeff ordered cole slaw as his side and we found that they used way too much celery seed. We recommend going for the duck fat fries instead. They forgot Jeff’s side of spicy house made pickles, but they brought them right out after we asked (and didn’t charge us). However, we didn’t taste any spiciness at all.
Overall we feel that MEAT Eatery and Taproom has potential, but found the prices to be too high. We had sticker shock a bit after paying $55.12 for our lunch. Sure, we had two beers, appetizers and two burgers, but that’s just way too much money to shell out. They also printed out a ‘suggested tip’ scale on the bill with amounts of 18%, 20% and 24% which we didn’t like at all. If you are a fast casual spot, where customers go up to the bar to order everything from drinks to food and you just drop it off, why tip 18%? That would add another $9 to our bill and we did half of the work. We really think they should rethink the ‘fast casual’ concept at MEAT Eatery and Taphouse.
MEAT Eatery and Taproom is located at 980 N Federal Highway Boca Raton, FL.