MEATS: Tempting menu, but services erratic (7.5)

MEATS definitely offers a tempting menu for carnivores looking to have a good time drinking and eating, but based on my experiences I wouldn’t quite put it on my recommended list because of the three occasions I’ve been, I wasn’t made to feel welcome. Pirata strives to impress with not just good food but also incredible service, but at MEATS I have yet to experience genuine hospitality—the kind where you feel people on the team respect diners and are happy to see them. Quite the opposite, on our visits two different servers came across as pompous and did not act like they cared about their guests, or at least treated every customer in the same way. And even warm and friendly servers sometimes struggled to be helpful when the place got busy. A quick stroll through some online reviews seem to reveal similar problems experienced by other unlucky diners. It’s a shame, as I’ve never quite had the same issue at other Pirata restaurants.

In addition to that, if you do plan to pay the restaurant a visit for an evening to enjoy, make sure to request not to be seated by the counter, because the counter is a thin strip of table that is generally more suitable for a quick, casual meal. Facing the wall you won’t even see the list of daily specials written on the board that is not on the paper menu. And you’d be sandwiched between other diners, which means less privacy and comfort.

Otherwise, MEATS is a chic place with a laid-back ambience and against the mélange of rustic and industrial-style backdrop you’ll find thoughtful details here and there—like the cute paintings on the bare walls and vintage tiling that give the place its unique and homey charm.

As for the food, if you and your guests are not vegetarian there would be a good range of options available and everything on the menu should go reasonably well with alcohol and good company. Cooking style as of late is less bold under new head chef Oda Koki; cuts are more conventional but their renditions are nonetheless playful and tasty. For their price tags, most of the dishes are solid and fair value-for-money: some a bit ordinary no doubt and primarily Anglo-influenced, but I like that there’s no overkill with dressings and portions are well-controlled. Smaller dishes also mean you get to order a couple more cuts to sample and share.

Food Rundown

Grilled Octopus, $130
A simple yet savory starter. The tentacle is tender and smokey with a lovely bagna cauda to go with it. It’s very thoughtful to include a seafood option on the menu at all.

Wagyu Carpaccio, $120
A very special interpretation with creaminess from burrata, a flavorful spicy kick from nduja and sweetness from mustard seeds to balance. Best of all the intensity of nduja doesn’t take away from the thin, raw slices of beef carpaccio that is tender and unmistakable.

Duck salad, $110
This was a refreshing combination of fresh herbs, watermelon, nuts and gamey duck. I skipped the hoisin sauce and it was still great for me. Adding the sauce gave it more of a taste of fusion to it, and duck does seem to work well with sweet sauces.

USDA Ribeye, $348
The grilled rib-eye was served Argentinian style with chimichurri sauce. The cut was tender, juicy and bursting with intense flavors.

Suckling pig, $180
This was OK. Not among the best suckling pigs you could order in the area. The skin was gummy and not crispy.
Oh and, it was honestly quite difficult to cut the meat with any of the available table carving utensils (we gave up less than half-way through). In keeping with the restaurant’s ethos to creating sharing plates, it’d be nice for the kitchen to slice this just as it does for the steaks.

Cheeks and truffle, $230
Iberian pork cheeks were braised till fork-tender and they were flavorful and hearty despite not being particularly photogenic. The truffle mashed potato was fluffy and aromatic.

Cinnamon Doughnuts, $85
These were OK with vanilla ice cream. Nothing much to write home about.

28-30 Staunton Street, Central
$$, Western