Meat and Milkshakes: Department of Meat & Social Affairs
Meat, milkshakes and… more meat.
Gents we have said it before and we will say it again; Northampton is on the up. Great new pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants are popping up on a frequent basis and transforming the landscape of the town. And nothing represents this change more than our latest review – purely because it is the first time we have the opportunity or inclination to feature an establishment on this site that resides on the infamous Bridge Street. But all that has changed with the relaunch of the Department of Meat & Social Affairs.
The Department of Meat & Social Affairs
Opening in mid-June, the stylish folks behind Northampton’s Old House and Sazeracs have repurposed the former nightclub and replaced the liquor with meat. Speaking with head chef James Peck, he explained the motivations behind the restaurant; “The goal is to offer a completely relaxed, social eating experience where people can share and really get stuck in. The most enjoyable and memorable meals for myself are when I am with friends and family and everyone is tucking in; it creates a talking point.”
When first entering the Department of Meat & Social Affairs, gents are greeted with a modern and hip interior that has the essence of an American diner with an industrial twist; providing diners with a retro, relaxed setting to dine in. What makes the restaurant really special is the rather unique details hidden around that will induce a smile when you stumble across them; such as the quirky lighting by the bar, all-American style red booths, interesting artwork dotted around and that American diner essential, the neon sign. The restaurant has two floors, with a light and airy upstairs that benefits from its high ceilings and large windows which floods light into the room. Additionally, the upstairs holds live music events and bands – those who attended the Northampton Music Festival may have caught a few gigs – and is available to hire for private parties and functions. The seating capacity for the Department of Meat and Social Affairs is 85, but it can take additional patrons with the extra seating available outside.
Recently featured in our top 10 beer and wine gardens, the Department of Meat’s garden space provides a great area for alfresco dining, with benches for gents to sit on to soak up the sun and a ping pong table for those intent on burning off their meals. Throw in an eclectic mix of music playing in the background and classic films running in the background and the youthful and trendy restaurant delivers a fun and casual dining experience for the gents of Northampton.
“Hmmm, this is a tasty burger” Jules Winfield
We shall give fair warning now; any gent looking for a refined, fine dining experience should probably stop reading. The Department of Meat and Social Affairs’ menu is all about big flavours and dishes that require you to get your hands dirty – hence the need for kitchen roll found on each table. Just like the stylish setting and laid-back atmosphere, the unfussy and simple menu offers a good range of American staples to choose from. With burgers, ribs and wings forming the main options on the menu, the need for cutlery is minimal at best.
The Department of Meat and Social Affairs is a proverbial mecca of meat, with gents being able to pick from a range of burgers including beef, chicken, pulled pork and a halloumi and mushroom options for vegetarians. Cooked to perfection and for only £6.50, the juicy beef burgers are served with two patties and are phenomenal value for money. In fact, the whole menu is priced competitively and is in keeping with the informal and casual theme of the restaurant.
The chicken wings, baby back ribs and pulled pork came in the restaurants signature, smoky barbeque sauce but the real stand out dish was the beef short ribs (£7). Filled to the brim with flavour, it is the head chef’s pride and joy; “My favourite is the slow beer braised short rib; a massive chunk of juicy meat peeling off the bone and a rich, tangy barbeque sauce we make and smoke ourselves. It’s my food heaven!” Tucking into the rib, it was immediate that there was no exaggeration in James’ words. Falling off the bone with unsurmountable ease, the mouth-watering meat was incredibly soft, tender and slathered in a rich barbeque sauce. We could not recommend it higher.
Whilst the meat is undoubtedly the star of the show, the sides form a delicious supporting role. Moreish fries, crispy onion rings and tasty mac’n’cheese work well to complete dishes that can only be described as the ultimate comfort food. Desserts are again simple but effective. Gents can choose from five homemade ice-creams to sample, with classic American flavours available such as Peanut Butter and Jelly. Having tried the Cherry Bakewell, the light and creamy ice-cream was all we could handle after the mountain of meat served and worked as the ideal end to such a rich meal.
GENT TIP: Be prepared for a delicious but messy experience. If you are in the early stages of courting a future better half, pick wisely. Devouring pork ribs like some sort of velociraptor might not be the finest first impression.
“Do you mind if I have some of your tasty beverage to wash this down?” Jules Winfield
Just as Jules says, a tasty burger requires an equally tasty beverage to wash it all down and fortunately the Department of Meat and Social Affairs does not disappoint. The bar stocks the usual suspects on tap – Carlsberg, Somersby, San Miguel – but with one worthy exception; Brooklyn beer. Nothing says America like this hoppy lager and it is one of our favourites on the craft beer scene. It is the contents of their fridge however that deserves special mention, with a plethora of American craft beer bottles to try out. As well as Brooklyn, gents can also enjoy Samuel Adams, Anchor Steam, Sierra Nevada and Goose Island with their meat – we are sure Jules would approve.
“I gotta know what a five dollar shake tastes like” Vincent Vega
We had to know as well. Starting at £3.60, diners have the choice of five flavours, including chocolate cookies, passion fruit, vanilla, strawberry & cream and our favourite, salted caramel and banana. Delightfully indulgent, cold and creamy, the milkshakes are a triumph – and for the gent fond of hard milkshakes, the restaurant can inject some more life into the shakes for an additional £4. To quote the eloquent Vincent; “god damn, that’s a pretty f***ing good milkshake – we couldn’t have said it better ourselves.
For gents entering the Department of Meat and Social Affairs, we suggest you enter prepared for guilt. There can be no calorie counting here. The menu is all about in your face, finger licking, lip smacking comfort food and they do it well. With its chilled and fun atmosphere and good beer selection, the restaurant will be a popular weekend hangout for friends and a great place to grab some satisfying, quick weekday dining for those grabbing lunch. The inside brings just enough of the American diner feel without feeling tacky or cliché and combined with outdoor dining and ping pong, the Department of Meat and Social Affairs will prove a welcome addition to the town centre’s culinary landscape.
We recommend leaving your forks, knives and inhibitions at the door and diving into the barbeque soaked pleasures that awaits within.
60 Bridge Street, Northampton, NN1 1PA