Walking over 'Cat & Mutton Bridge' affords inspiring views of Regent's Canal before leading you in to the market. Reach the end of Broadway Market itself and you arrive at London Fields, a name stamped on the literary scene by Martin Amis, even if his book was set in West London. Turn right and you arrive after a minute's walk at Netil Market, mostly a collection of food outlets supporting hungry market strollers. It is also home to Lucky Chip, one of London's most well regarded burger vendors.
My previous encounters with Lucky Chip have always been in the more centrally located The Player Slider Bar in Soho where Lucky Chip had a residency (which we believe has now ended). I had enjoyed my several meals there (see our blog post) but always with one reservation: I hate the whole slider concept and longed for a proper size Lucky Chip burger. Well, I finally made it to Netil Market and now's my chance.
With Lucky Chip (and the market generally) only open on a Saturday, I had expected enormous queues, but to my surprise, everything was quite orderly and there was no waiting to be done. The burgers are cooked up to order in a trailer and from the moment you see the sizeable burgers topped with cheese steaming under a cloche on the grill at eye level, the four or so minute wait following you placing your order seems interminable. Seating is outdoors in the middle of the small market and you simply take a seat on a somewhat communal long bench; when your order is ready, it is brought to your table (on paper plates of course).
The burger totally looks the part, shaming to hell the limp offerings of Shake Shack and Five Guys. I had gone for the Lucky Burger (Onions, Cheese, Lucky Mayo, Lettuce, Tomato) which seemed the right thing to do at Lucky Chip, while there's also a regular cheeseburger, a Kevin Bacon (cheeseburger with bacon), Woody Harlesden (Mushroom) and a burger of the week, Tom Selleck (includes pineapple, must be a Magnum PI thing).
You are not asked how you want your burger cooked but it comes in a way that will please burger lovers everywhere: nicely pink. It's chunky, but the right size, you can pick it up and eat it with no need for deconstruction or a knife and fork. Juices dribble on to the plate as you tilt the burger and bite in; when seen elsewhere, this sometimes leads to the remaining patty feeling dry and chewy, not here where everything remains deliciously addictive and the juices simply become another dipping sauce. In all this, the cheese has nicely melted into the burger and the bun retains integrity and is well judged for the burger served.
Put another way, I really loved my Lucky Chip burger. It looked right, felt right, tasted right, was cooked right and, costing £9, was priced right. My friend who accompanied me was shocked that a burger van in a market was serving something so good. It is in some ways a surprising find but feels worth the journey (and Broadway Market offers a nice way to kill a few hours also). If you can't make Saturdays in Hackney, according to Luck Chip's website, you can also enjoy a Lucky Chip burger at the Sebright Arms (pub) seven days a week (selective hours, see website). We will certainly be making that journey also.
Finally, I followed on from my burger with a salted caramel milkshake from Street Shakes (see below) six yards away from Lucky Chip in the same market, that too was fabulous. Admittedly rain can (and nearly did) put a dampener on things, but having finally got to try a full size Lucky Chip burger instead of a silly slider, and despite expectations running high, I nevertheless finished my day at the market a very happy customer.