Brunch has become somewhat of a birthday tradition for me, and this year's festivities were no different. Nothing says getting older than choosing brunch over going out at night.
Choosing a place was a struggle, but we narrowed down a list of brunch restaurants and decided on meeting at MEAT. How appropriate. Like its name suggests, MEAT is a carnivore's dream, serving up Texas-style BBQ, southern-inspired sides, and plenty of bourbon and whiskey to wash it all down. And if you're vegetarian, don't worry. They don't judge (too hard) or discriminate (that much).
As sister and neighbour to Next Act Pub, MEAT has a casual and laidback vibe to it. Unlike most BBQ restaurants in the south, MEAT is also very polished and clean. The room is big and open, with communal tables taking up most of the space. It's not a bad thing, but it definitely screams 'when hipster meets BBQ.'
They don't take reservations, so a wait time is to be expected. We were quoted a 20-30 minute wait during peak brunch time, and we were fortunate in getting our own private table by the window.
MEAT is open for dinner seven days a week, and serves brunch on the weekend from 11:00 to 2:00. Whereas dinner is served family style, brunch has its own specific menu, comprised of nine brunch-friendly dishes and a handful of their BBQ sandwiches.
SC and AL both ordered a glass of classic lemonade ($3.50) to start, made with locally brewed and bottled Upson's cordial. It looks like they diluted the cordial with a bit of sparkling water. SC and AL both noticed that there wasn't much sugar in the mix, which made the lemonade more sour than sweet.
For some reason, most of us weren't feeling the brunch menu and went with their sandwiches instead. KN got the beef brisket sandwich ($16.00) with sautéed onions, horseradish mayo, and pickles. Sandwiches are served with a heaping side of garlic fries, but our server also said we could sub for hashbrowns or a salad. KN's had the beef brisket sandwich in the past, so it's safe to say she enjoyed it enough to order it again.
SC was the only one to order a brunch item, and she went for the fried chicken and waffles ($16.00). Belgian waffles, rosemary maple syrup, and butter. Salty and sweet is always a good thing, but SC thought the fried chicken was maybe a bit too salty and the waffles too sweet. Two extremes that didn't match up as well as they should. I tried a bit of the waffle and didn't particularly enjoy the strong rosemary flavour coming from the syrup. It was a bit too smoky and woody for my taste; I think I'd prefer the waffle more if the maple syrup was left unadulterated.
AL went for the BBQ pulled chicken sandwich ($15.00) with smoked cheddar and cherry BBQ sauce. It looked pretty good and I think AL enjoyed it. I might just have to try the BBQ chicken next time around.
For myself, I went with the pulled pork sandwich ($15.00) with house slaw and bourbon BBQ sauce. Overall, I thought the sandwich was okay. The pork was tender and relatively moist. There was a bit too much BBQ sauce mixed in for my liking, but I appreciated the slaw for that reason, as it helped break up the strong sauce flavour. As for the fries, they were really good for the first few bites. A few soggy pieces here and there but hardly nothing to complain about. After a while, the copious amount of garlic just becomes too salty and overpowering. Sharing the fries (or plenty of water refills) is definitely a must.
Because Edmonton is a bit lacking in the BBQ department, I can see why this restaurant is so popular. Albertans love their meat and MEAT delivers just that.