Review of Lucky Chip Burgers and Wine El Chappo Burger
What they say:
Aged beef patty, smoked bacon, blue cheese, roasted jalapeños & Aioli.
Price: £9.50 (+£3 upgrade to 50 day dry aged Galician beef).
Well, this probably has to go down as one of the best experiences I’ve had since becoming Burger Lad’s sidekick. It was fantastic in so many ways and I’ll try my utmost to express just why in this review, if you’ll indulge me.
Firstly it was an opportunity to check out Lucky Chip’s new opening – Burgers & Wine – which has only been going a couple of weeks. Secondly, it was a chance to sit down and chat with Lucky Chip’s owner, Ben Denner, and thirdly I have found an early contender for my burger of the year.
|The El Chappo – perfection and luxury in a bun…|
So anyway, a little about Lucky Chip. Beginning as a burger van (which Ben still has hidden away in a super-secret London location) in Kensal Green, it moved into pub/bar residencies and retains outlets at the Old Queen’s Head (where I reviewed the Royale Wit Cheese) and Birthdays Bar, all in the same rough North-West-of-centre London area.
The new opening is all Lucky Chip and marries the insanely popular menu (and rotating specials in due course) with Ben’s love of wine. It’s situated in Dalston’s Ridley Road, which by day is a bustling street market, and it is literally across the road from Dalston Kingsland station.
Inside it is decked out in dark wood, mood lighting and a sound system from Woodstock that Ben is extremely protective over. The minute I walked in the door I was mightily impressed. It was a good size, well-staffed and incredibly inviting.
The story of Lucky Chip is about as inspiring as they come, proving to all of us what we can achieve if we just dare to try. Eight years ago, Ben was managing a private members club and the idea of Lucky Chip came to him. Four more years went by until the burger van, and together with wife Jodie, founded Lucky Chip. Just don’t ask him where the name came from!!!
|Burger God in the house. Mr Ben Denner…|
In the intervening years, Lucky Chip has become an iconic brand on the burger scene in London, and it isn’t an understatement to say that I was dancing around the room when one of my heroes agreed to meet for a drink.
Ben isn’t a chef by training, he is an infectiously enthusiastic Aussie who has made London his home and has put down his roots here with Lucky Chip and a human child as well. During the few hours I was there, I got a fascinating insight into a man who is so proud of his business that he cannot stop looking around, checking, perfecting and generally making everyone happy, staff and customers alike.
Of the staff, the sommelier (you need one with an extensive wine list like this) chatted to us about gin for a while and this ultimately led to Ben and me having a blind taste test of four gins with startling results, but that is a story for another day, because I’m sure you want to hear about the burger.
Each of the burgers on the menu of five comes with Lucky Chip’s house blend of beef, which is pretty amazing already – I know because I’ve had it before, and the development of something this good from someone who didn’t have the training, is particularly outstanding.
Specials are still developed almost exclusively by Ben himself, messing around in his kitchen with ideas.
But this time I was inclined to do the upgrade. I was going to anyway, but after Ben talked about his suppliers and the background of the happy cows involved in producing the Galician beef, my mouth was watering even before the order went in.
Onto the El Chappo then. I’m going to begin by saying that as much as I loved the Royale, and as 50/50 as I am on blue cheese generally, I have to say that this one today isn’t just better, it’s right up there amongst my favourite burgers ever. That’s a combination of the special beef and the toppings, but we will come to that.
It arrived with a smile and an absolutely perfect build (Ben even checked!) and smelling and looking all kinds of wonderful. The first hit on the nose and the palate was the faint saltiness of the blue cheese and aioli which were outstanding. This burger was like biting into old-fashioned luxury, with its softness only rippled by the applewood smoked bacon.
|Colours, texture, flavour. This one has it all…|
The roasted jalapeños also played a considerable part in this, giving considerable but not overwhelming heat. There were quite a few of them so it was very noticeable, but ensured it was interesting, delicious and moreish.
The combinations of flavours and the gentle texture were intoxicating, and was the sort of food where you are desperate for the next bite before the current one is finished. Fortunately, I was both talking and writing, so my eating experience lasted longer than it would have done otherwise.
Unlike so many places that use brioche, Lucky Chip uses a seeded bun from a local supplier. It looks different, and it tastes different. You can actually taste the seeds, and the bread is soft to the teeth, but also just strong enough to hold in the battery of ingredients.
But the beef. I’ve said it so many times, a good or bad burger is made so by the beef, not the toppings. So with an incredible selection of top quality toppings, it was just down to the beef to make or break this burger, but you already know the answer.
|Plenty jalapeños and smoked bacon elevate this outstanding burger…|
Check out Lucky Chip’s Twitter timeline and you will see pictures of this beef served as a steak. Just have a look at the colours, the texture, and try not to dribble. This is way up there in steak terms.
And it’s been lovingly shaped into a patty and put into this burger. Earth-shattering stuff. I’m not sure I know good enough adjectives to describe this. You all know I have had a lot of really good burgers, but this was insane. Ben’s recommendation was to have it medium-rare and that’s exactly what I did. It was so melt-in-the mouth, with the perfect grind. An amount of fat is shaved off before preparation, resulting in a split of about 75/25. The beef is so tasty, it simply doesn’t need a particularly high fat content to bump up the flavour.
After I finished the burger, two of Ben’s friends, Tom a local nightclub owner and Adam, who runs London’s street food behemoth Street Feast, joined us and a fantastic evening was had. I must end this review with a disclaimer saying that Ben stubbornly refused payment, despite my protesting, but it wouldn’t, and didn’t affect my opinion of the burger because this was not sprung on me until I was leaving.
Whether or not this burger ends up being my top burger of 2016, it is too early to tell, but it is an absolute must for anyone living in, or visiting London.
Book a table at Burgers & Wine and tell them the Admiral sent you. You will love it.