I took a trip up to Lucky Chip in Kensal Rise a few weeks ago. It was before Glasto and I had a mountain of stuff to get ready before submitting myself to the trenches and twilight zone of Worthy Farm. Plus London had just endured a calamitous deluge of rain (elemental trend of June 2011?) – so from the lowlands of Loughborough Junction to the crooked heights of NW10 it was quite a wrench. But I felt compelled to soldier on, convinced by various reports that what would greet me on arrival would negate the treacherous pain of the journey.
I went to pick up my mate from her barfly position in the Prince Regent. The electricity had blown and we drank bourbon by candlelight as the storm gathered itself outside. Finally it stopped and we sallied forth to the forecourt of St John’s church. This wasn’t my first visit; I had stumbled upon Lucky Chip on their opening night back in March on a balmier night than this and it was hopping. I could barely get close to the counter, let alone the burgers, so I gave it the visual once over and carried on about my business.
This night was howlingly different on the crowd front. There was something faintly Rocky Horror about the sight of this stainless steel box perched on the brow of the Harrow Road, gazed down upon by a great solemn looking church and bereft of another living soul save for Comar and Ben, the two bright sparks behind Lucky Chip.
As we approached an SUV pulled up and whirred down its tinted window. A hand reached out and received the foil-wrapped package that Comar strode over to it. Up went the window and off prowled the car, leaving the four of us stood there, bathed in the trailer’s strip light. The good news was that it meant we had no queue to negotiate and we got very personal service. Ben, ex head barman of the Cobden Club showed us his Antipodean flair with the wasabi mayo flourishes and beetroot marinated onion rings, while Comar gave us the full intro to Lucky Chip. To cut a long story short it was always going to be a diner but the burgers have been hogging most of the limelight – and here’s why:
There’s nothing like watching your food being prepared on a blustery night to really get you in the mood. The forbidding sky throws you into the promise of the trailer’s delights. You want that comfort in edible form. You lean into the counter and soak up the steamy aroma of the patty on the hot grill, knowing it has your name on it.
I went for the bacon cheeseburger, while my pal got all excited about the ‘Sheen’, as in Charlie. It was loaded with beer-soaked onions, Philadelphia cheese, Applewood smoked bacon, cheddar and garlic aioli. She said it was delicious but I was too deep into mine to give it a spin. I’m not really into a million different things on my burger. I know everyone raves about the kimchi burger at Hawksmoor but it kind of killed it for me. I want the meaty patty, the hot meaty juices and the unobtrusive but oh so crucial plastic cheese. And then some ketchup. I got all of this plus fries and onion rings (with accompanying lollipop) on the side – and I even felt like dipping into the hotdog afterwards, such was the acceleration of my appetite when confronted with all that beefy addictiveness.
I like what Comar and Ben are bringing to the curbs of London – there is a kind of studied irreverence that shows they mean business but want to orchestrate something more than just the flogging of food. And the food is spot on – very neatly done – and it all feels very well thought out. I, for one though, am not averse to a little bit of looseness and chaos in the food that I eat and on the streets where I dine. I look forward to returning to one of their Netil Market days when they are once again surrounded by people and disorder and racking out some of the finest burgers on the streets.
Find Lucky Chip on Twitter @lucky_chip or, better than that, head to Netil Market, London Fields, E8 3RL, Tuesdays-Sundays to furnish yourself with their flavours.