Musings (more like rambling thoughts) of a Cardiff based lawyer obsessed with food and wine
As the regular reader(s) of the blog will know, I am always on the hunt (especially when I am up in London) for places that do a good burger and Lucky Chip (which operates out of various pubs in London) has been on my radar for a while. Reports suggested a very decent burger, with creations like the “Royale wit cheese”, the “Kevin Bacon” and the “El Chapo” – all variations, as far as I can see, on the inspired creation that is the bacon cheese burger – garnering much praise. Their burgers consistently make it into bloggers’ and publications’ lists of London top burgers.
Being in London one Saturday recently, this allowed me to expand the scope of my burger quest to beyond the very centre of London (and a radius based on a short walk from one of the tube stations on my Central line route from the office in the City to Lancaster Gate), in this instance, to the Chalk Farm/ Camden area (still pretty central mind).
As mentioned, Lucky Chip does not have its own dedicated outlets, but rather operates on a residency basis. The one I visited, the Camden Assembly in Chalk Farm/Camden, has the look (on the outside at least) of an old fashion boozer (bit Queen Vic)
Inside it is a bit more hipsterised, with bare brick walls, wooden floors and interesting anatomical items on the walls.
Menus are on the tables and you go up and order at the bar, with the food then delivered to your table. The time-lag between ordering and the burger arriving is such that the burgers are clearly cooked to order. Not a long wait, but reassuringly long enough.
The menu on my visit was a special one celebrating Stranger Things, apparently a horror/sci fi genre Netflix series, with items having names linked to the series.
This has (at the time of posting) been replaced with a Christmas themed menu (with all the old named classics back on it – I assume post Christmas the standard menu will return), but they seem to all be a based on the same cheese and bacon burger theme.
Not having Netflix I had at the time absolutely no idea of what Stranger Things was about (looking at the internet it does sound quite good and rather my sort of thing – Mrs. SF would, I have no doubt, hate it) and thus most of the names of the menu items were completely lost on me until I looked them up on the train back to Cardiff.
Whilst tempted by the ” Demogorgon” burger (with a rather nice sounding gorgonzola filled patty – a riff on the juicy lucy – and a homage to the Demogorgon in Stranger Things which, much like the burger, is likely to make a right mess of you), I am a simple soul and tend to gravitate to the more basic of burgers on any menu. My reasoning for this is that a burger should always be about the quality of the patty and fancy dan fillings and toppings tend to detract from the all important patty (and I suspect, all to often, provide cover for an inferior quality patty).
On this basis, I tend to go for the less complex concoctions, usually a cheese or cheese and bacon burger. Here, with the Stranger Things menu, these were the Nancy or the Fancy Nancy ( I assume Nancy is Nancy Wheeler, but no idea why she may be fancy).
I decided on the Fancy Nancy (£8.75 – the Kevin Bacon on the usual/Christmas menu) and when ordering at the bar requested it medium rare. It was pleasing to see this was met without any element of consternation (no klaxons going off and all the doors of the place being bolted to save us from the impending rise of the dead or, in this case, perhaps the opening up of a dimensional rift to the Upside Down) that such a request seems to often trigger.
My burger was a decent sized beast, with the patty encased in a lightly toasted bioche bun.
The burger was made from proper aged beef and was clearly a hand formed patty. Lovely rich, umami packed, beefy flavour to it and properly seasoned, with lots of nice crusty knobbly bits on it. A very nice bit of beef, it was disappointingly cooked more medium than my requested medium rare. A shame as beef that good is infinite better cooked on the rare side if you asked me. I could have sent it back, I suppose, but in reality it was fine and I was on the clock.
On the topping front there was good splog of properly gooey American cheese and a satisfyingly thick rasher of tasty, smoked back bacon (the latter would perhaps have benefited from the fat being a tad more crisped up). Sweet briney pickles added nicely to the mix, as did a sauce combo of mustard and ketchup.
The draw back with the ketchup and mustard combo was it led to an untimely collapse in the structural integrity of the bun. This meant that about two third of the way through my burger I had to resort to a knife and fork. This is a fail in my burger world (where a naked burger doesn’t exist as a burger always comes in a bun, with the bun there for the very important purpose of allowing conveyence of the burger to the gob without the need for cutlery – no bun = no burger).
Still a fine burger though, if a seriously messy one. I required quite a few napkins and fresh towelettes to cleanse my beard of detritus.
On the sides front there were some truly scary items, not least the Venkman’s Ghost Fries which included the frankly insanely hot ghost chilli (over 1 million on the scoville scale) and stuff smothered in “Holy Fuck” sauce (assumed to be the Rib Man’s sauce).
I am a absolute chilli wuss (seriously don’t get “it hurts” hot stuff) so these were all way, way off limits for me. I, therefore, settled for the “Mind Flayers” AKA French fries
I can only imagine the reference to the Mind Flayer (something very unpleasant it seems) from Stranger Things is on the shape front, with the fries as tendrils, as there was nothing horrid, scarey or downright spooky about these fries. I would expect a place called the “Lucky Chip”” to do good fries and these were crisp, oil free on the outside and fluffy in the inside and properly seasoned (a must for fries). Plentiful, but perhaps a bit pricey at £2.95.
The bar has an OK selection of beers (at least to a non hophead like me – including the not OK Heineken, which is truly a horror worthy of the Upside Down)
and I happily supped on a pint of Goose Island IPA (£5.50 – I don’t tend to drink beer in pubs that much so no idea if this is a fair price or outrageous or somewhere in between).
I note on their website that Lucky Chip also operates out of a boozer in Dalston where they seem to do some rather nice sounding burger and wine options, pairing the humble burger with fine wines. A great idea, as fine wine and a burger are a pretty good match to my mind. Forget the fancy topping (and hold the ketchup) and go for a cheese burger with a big bold red, like a quality Bordeaux blend, a fine garnacha (a Priorat perhaps) or a beefy malbec – lovely. Didn’t regrettably seem to be an option in the Chalk Farm/Camden one I visited
Definitely another burger place to add to the list. Decent burger, with a great flavour (not too fussy) and some good fries made for a very pleasant lunch before getting the train back to Cardiff.
Did, as the post title posed, it turn my burger world ” Upside Down”? A very tasty burger – yes, a dimensional riftingly good one – no. The Bleeker double cheese burger is better, with two rather than one patty and cooked to my preferred medium rare. At only 25p more than the Fancy Nancy it gets my vote every time.
Would I go back! Yes, notwithstanding my slight misgivings, it was a good burger and the wine pairing option in Dalston sound great (if still running). The fact that my Fancy Nancy was cooked medium (despite my request for medium rare) means, however, it doesn’t quite make it into the top 5 of my London burger league.
If you are up Camden way of a weekend (lunch or dinner) or weekday (dinner only) this places is certainly one to consider for a pitstop to refuel – just wish there had been at least a hint of pink in my burger as that would have turned it from a good burger into a really very good one.
On a final note, Merry Christmas to everyone – eat and drink and be merry.
Address: Camden Assembly, 49 Chalk Farm Road, London, NW1 8AN
Other branches at Sebright Arms, Dalston, E2 9AN and Old Queen’s Head, Islington, N1 8LN
Nearest tube: Chalk Farm (0.2 miles) and Camden (0. 4 miles)
Email: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
Website: Click here
Opening hours: Mon – Fri: 17.00 – 22.00, Sat: 12.00 – 22.00 and Sun: 12.00 – 21.00.