You should always know it’s a bad sign when you walk into a relatively new Wyndham Street restaurant at 8pm on a Saturday and you are the only people there. I had high hopes for Street Meat, but even as we approached this no-reservations New York-style street food joint, those hopes had already begun to dwindle.
Street Meat is styled after New York’s century-old Prince Street subway station, to the point where you’d be mistaken for thinking that the restaurant is called Prince Street, since nowhere on the façade does it actually say the name of the restaurant.
The space is bigger than anticipated, with a bar and open kitchen at the entrance, leading to a lounge area and a little patio at the back for drinks only. The bar area was far too air-conditioned, even on a cooler November evening, so we chose to sit on the single street-side table overlooking busy Wyndham Street.
The menu is listed on a map of the New York subway, with each dish corresponding to a certain district or station. We started with the Upper West “Atomic” wings. With their crispy skin and served with some decent hot sauce, these were pretty tasty, although I couldn’t help but think it was only because they were coated in chicken salt (i.e. MSG).
Having recently watched (and loved) the film Chef, we were curious to try Street Meat’s Cuban sandwich from the specials menu. It took an age to arrive and we were surprised at how small it was for its $78 price tag. Nevertheless, it had a great flavour and we enjoyed all three bites of it.
The Chelsea Market lobster roll came in at an even pricier $128 for two tiny rolls. Had these rolls been out of this world, we would have possibly forgotten about the price and ordered another round. They were, however, definitely not out of this world. The crab roe paste on top was unpalatable and had to be scraped off, the chunk of lobster beneath was rubbery and chewy, whilst the lobster mayonnaise was mediocre and had too much celery. The best thing about it was probably the roll itself.
I can’t really fault the Nolita Habana grilled corn, but it’s not exactly hard to make juicy sweet corn topped with melted cotija cheese and cayenne pepper taste good. I did also like how it was cut into smaller pieces for ease of eating.
Do you remember as a child refusing to eat potatoes unless they came either shaped as a smiley face, or some other fun form, and deep-fried? Do you remember that those ‘fries’ were not made by any human hand but always came frozen out of a packet? Enter Street Meat’s Brooklyn Ribbon fries. These were definitely tasty and no doubt also came out of a packet. I just wasn’t quite sure why the menu stated that they were served with garlic aioli when what we really got was a blend of ketchup and mayonnaise.
Street Meat’s only dessert is its daily special Upper East macaron sandwich. When we asked what the flavour of the day was, we were told, “It’s a macaron sandwich.” We ordered it anyway and in fact were served two different macaron sandwiches. We asked again what the two flavours were, to which the response was, “They are the same, just different colours.” So, what you’re saying is really that you have no idea? Or that whoever makes them uses food colouring in his macarons rather than actually flavouring them? Apparently the ice cream was chestnut-flavoured. All we could taste was something sweet, cold and a little bit crumbly, with no distinct flavour.
Service at Street Meat was pretty awful. Granted, we were sat outside and therefore a little bit away from the staff’s line of vision, but we were the only diners for most of the time we were there! Some dishes are very reasonably priced, whilst others seem ridiculous; the bill came to just over $900 for the two of us, including a couple of rounds of drinks (note: the cocktails here, despite being expensive, are probably the best thing they have going for them). As I said, I had high hopes for Street Meat, but now that I’ve tried it I don’t think I’ll be going back in a hurry.
50 Wyndham Street
Closed on Sundays