One of the secrets of a good relationship is a mutual love for food – you’ll always be hungry so you might as well use it as a bonding experience with your partner. I’ve been lucky in this respect, as the Boy loves food almost as much as I do.
This story begins the way my favourite stories begin: with a promise of good food at cool places. When the Boy announced we were going to Lucky Chip I instantly visualized the whole experience: a melt-in-your-mouth meaty patty, in between a soft brioche bun, gooey cheese, punchy hot sauce and probably some pickled gherkins for the acidic kick, all mingling under my very happy palate. Grease running down our arms optional. Even as we were walking towards it, hungry and cold, putting up with the icy wind ringing in our ears, every step was a step closer to Lucky Chip. You could say I had very high expectations, and why would I not considering the hype it surrounds it? Granted, I was late in trying out Lucky Chip, but now that I have, I can offer you a detailed and honest opinion.
We visited the one at Birthdays in Dalston. If it wasn’t for my favourite app, Google Maps, we would have lost it and wandered around until we were colder and hungrier and one of us suggested we go to Nandos. Nevertheless, despite the lack of any sign, we did manage to find it. The menu is fairly short (nothing along the likes of Byron or Gourmet Burger Kitchen), and straight to the point. I like that. The venue was dark, the tables were sticky and the walls had the sound proofing of a bubble made of glass. Virtually non-existent. I did not like that. What I also didn’t like was the group of very inebriated girls next to us (it was 1pm. I mean, SERIOUSLY.) who either owned the place, and thus didn’t care if everyone else left annoyed and never came back, or they didn’t own the place, annoyed everyone who couldn’t hear themselves think (which was pretty much everyone) and the management did nothing. I’ll go with the latter and wholeheartedly suggest you do not visit Birthdays if you want to try out Lucky Chip, but instead go to their other venue or get your burgers delivered at home via Deliveroo.
Nevertheless, the reason we were there: the burgers. I went for El Chappo (bacon, jalapenos, blue cheese and aioli), he went for Kevin Bacon (bacon, cheese, mustard, pickles). Regarding my previous fantasy of the burger dancing in my mouth, I’d say it almost hit the nail of the head. The brioche was soft, the patty was soft and juicy and the right kind of pink in the middle, nothing fell apart with every bite and nothing had the texture of rubber. The toppings were rich and grease ran down my arm – I had to draw up my sleeves which is always a good sign. It was almost amazing. Unfortunately it was a bit too salty for my taste, and so was the Boy’s burger, so I assume this was by design and not an one-off error. Still, a lot of people like their food to be salty and if you’re one of them good for you. However, if you’re not, I say still try out the burgers but not without a pint of water next to you. Now I’m thirsty just by typing this. Keep hydrated people.
The fries were skin-on and the smaller ones were crispy perfection. I liked that too.
Now, who thinks of combining burgers with ceviche?
A visit to a cat cafe, a Christmas market and a walk around Shoreditch later, we wandered into Andina for dinner. Although Peruvian ceviche is one of my favourite things in the world, I hadn’t been to Andina. I now wonder why. First of all: the place. It’s huge and busy with waiters pacing up and down, but it’s also chilled, and cool. I think it’s one of the best places for a first date; it’s casual enough to make you feel relaxed, but not too much to feel as if you’re not putting enough effort. You order little plates to share which helps to break the ice and by the time you finish off that cocktail the ice has pretty much melted! Not to mention the food, oh the food.
We started with juices because I’m all for healthy eating at the moment (not). I went for the green pimiento juice (green pepper, cucumber, kale and ginger) which I would not recommend if you don’t like cucumber as it’s quite strong, but if you’re afraid of ginger juices, this is a good place to start. He went for a more palate-friendly fruit juice, for which the ingredients escape me. He assured me it was good.
Now, food. We had plenty.
Pepian: Panca chilli marinated chicken breast with quinoa, carob, pecans and a coriander sauce.
Salmon Tamalero: chilli cured salmon, corn tamale, fresco cheese, huacatay sauce. Excellent quality salmon swirled around a zesty huacatay sauce. What’s not to love?
Tomatada Peruana: How all tomato salads should be made – with fresh, aromatic tomatoes bursting with flavour. I still haven’t found a reliable source for this tomatoes in the UK. Anyhow, it was heritage tomato, passion fruit tiger’s milk (no it was not milk taken from a lactating tiger mum, although that would have been cool), peas and sweet potato. When ordering, I found all of their salads interesting, but if I went back I would probably reorder this one. Robust tomatoes FTW.
These little croquettes that I can’t for the life of me remember how they’re called! Delicious though.
Ceviche Clasico. For the longest time the Boy had resisted the charms of ceviche. Through that time, I went into great lengths to explain the science behind the whole protein denaturing using acids from citrus fruit, very similar to cooking which denatures the proteins using heat. He kept nodding every time but he still wouldn’t budge despite my sincere efforts to put his mind at ease. Oddly enough, he has no problem with raw fish if it’s served on a ball of rice.
Nevertheless, while we were at Andina, and after I repeatedly personally guaranteed he would like it, he managed to take a bite. His eyes widened. His eyes widened so much I thought he was teasing me. Or he was having a heart attack. He insisted it was neither, and that the ceviche was one of the best things he had ever tasted. If this incident has taught us anything is to learn how to act when someone may be having a heart attack and not miss the opportunity to have ceviche once this opportunity presents itself.
Somewhere here our evening drew to an end. We bared London’s cold wind and rain until we got home, but we were happy – and full – despite the Boy looking back in disappointment at all those ceviche-less years he spent in ignorance. I was pretty happy nevertheless.
Till next time!