What began life as a humble London Fields burger stall has now evolved into a sleek, stylish restaurant complete with a la carte menu and extensive wine list. Ben Denner, the man behind Dalston’s Lucky Chip, has spent the last five years developing his burgers and hoarding interiors for the new space on Ridley Road (we love the retro lampshades and black/red colour scheme).
But blink and you’ll miss it among a sea of bustling Asian, Greek, Turkish and West Indian food stalls. It’s actually a pretty unique place to have a restaurant – over dinner we watched Ridley Road market flog last-minute wares, pack away its stalls and pull down the shutters, all in the space of two hours. Try and grab one of four red leather booths by the window for the best view.
In a radical change from such basic beginnings, Lucky Chip diners are encouraged to take their time over a three-course meal and lovely wine – upon the waiter’s recommendation we tried the 2002 Waipara West New Zealand Chardonnay, a soft, honey-coloured white that reminded us of crème brûlée. Surprisingly, it went well with a starter of finger-lickin’ onion bhaji corn dogs, so satisfyingly fat and greasy, but it couldn’t cut through the extreme saltiness of our Padrón peppers (we had to shake a lot of the rock salt off).
The main event is definitely Ben’s burgers. There are five to choose from and in every case you can upgrade your patty to 50-day dry-aged Galician beef for £3 – definitely worth it, considering how rich and mature the latter is (Galician cattle live around eight years longer than British beef cows). The classic cheeseburger has just the right level of sloppiness and plenty of American cheese, fresh pickles and medium-rare beef.
We also liked El Chappo, a smokier burger loaded with crispy bacon, tangy blue cheese, roasted jalapeños and aioli. Glazed, slightly sweet rolls were the perfect holder for such bold flavours and although gutsy, the burgers weren’t overwhelming – we ate every last scrap.
Chips were skinny and salty, just as they should be, but although truffle and Gorgonzola fries are hard to resist, regular fries are probably a better match for the punchy flavours present in a Lucky Chip burger. You’ll only need one basket between two if you’re going for the full three-course Lucky Chip experience. Desserts are limited (cheesecake or sorbet) but different – a scoop of mandarin sorbet in a tumbler of prosecco was our kind of ‘float’, and a novel way to end a good meal.
This is a characterful little restaurant, with plenty of soul and excellent staff all passionate about the menu. And it’s open to everyone – enjoy a burger and beer for under £15, or blow more than £50 on beautiful Galician steak and a rare bottle of vintage wine. Either way, we know you’ll like it.
25 Ridley Road
Written by Charlotte Morgan, February 2016
Images by Tom Bowles
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