We were at the Sebright Arms off Hackney Road, where burger maestros Lucky Chip have a pop-up kitchen residency – and our freshly-made sandwiches had just arrived with a pink-middled beef patty, a thick slice of smoked applewood bacon, plus American cheese, gherkin, tomato, red onion and lettuce. Like all LC burgers, it’s the size of a novelty football and is served on a paper plate with its own wodge of juice-mopping napkins. Hyped up by a wave of blogger buzz and rave tweets, we ordered the fattest-sounding thing on the menu – but could burger novices like ourselves handle it? The answer is yes, Lucky Chip is seriously good.
Part of London’s fancy street food revolution, LC started out drawing huge queues from a van at Netil Market in E8. They’re still there on Saturdays, but the Sebright residency means you can tuck in to lip-smacking street food seven days a week with such la-di-dah accompaniments as a roof and a swirly carpet and sometimes a DJ too. And they make eating carnal: you’ll wipe gobs of French mustard off your chin, lick oozy cheese and meat juice from your fingers and gleefully pop fallen chunks of onion back into the bun, thinking ‘uh-uh, you don’t get away that easy.’ Plates look like goopy crime scenes once you’re done.
Hand-cut fries on the side divided opinion on ELLEuk's visit: we found the soggy-middle, crispy-ends composition no threat to their good flavour, but they may not be to everyone's taste. Cheese-dusted chilli toppings add depth and fire, or you can posh things up with truffle oil for dipping. On burger quality, though, there's no room for debate: patties are succulent (they’re made from 32-day aged Hereford-Angus beef sourced from Wiltshire-based Walter Rose & Son), semi-brioche buns stay intact even with the sloppiest innards and chunky gherkins have real crunch and tang. So, LC make a tasty burger, but why the cult following? Sucker-punching flavour combos and a weekly changing menu: We left knowing there was still a Tom Selleck (beef, bacon, beetroot-flavour onion rings, pineapple and BBQ sauce) a John Bellushi (duck, veal and marrow patty with foie gras and caramelised onions) and a lobster burger (lobster, pork and beef patty with a Big Mac-style sauce) out there with our name on it.
The Sebright’s a proper boozer, not a fancy gastro pub – they don’t do reservations. On an early Thursday evening visit there were plenty of tables free, but you may have to queue with the fans on weekends (a traffic light at the entrance indicates wait times: if it’s lit red, come back later – which might feel disappointing, but is at least upfront).
To those who do wait, it’s really no hardship: rather more exciting-than-average beers from London microbreweries Camden, London Fields and Redchurch are served at the bar – so time just might fly...
The ELLEuk Score
Style of food: Fancy fast food
Good for: Quick bite after work; first date; group
For reservations email firstname.lastname@example.org
Prices & Other Details at Lucky Chip at the Sebright Arms
Address: 31-35 Coate Street, E2 9AG
Opening times: Monday-Thursday: 6pm-10pm, Friday and Saturday: 6pm-11pm and Sunday: 1pm-5pm
Average price per person for two-course meal without wine: £15
Private dining? No – prepare to share tables if it’s busy
Garden/al fresco dining? Yes. Off picnic tables in the alleyway down the side.
Best table? Tucked away corner tables are best – away from foot traffic
Who goes? Food hipsters
Nearest tube: Bethnal Green
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