Lucky Seven Diner
127 Westbourne Park Road, London, W2 5QL (map); 020 7727 6771
Cooking Method: Griddled
Short Order: A good London burger, unfortunately at London prices
Want Fries with That? The fries are fine for frozen, but the other sides aren't worth bothering with
Prices: Classic hamburger, £6.75 (add 20p for cheese; £1 for bacon and cheese; double the patties for £3.95); french fries, £3.25
Complaining about the price of hamburgers in London is like complaining about the price of...well, anything in London. It's an expensive city to live and eat in. Hamburgers aren't expensive, right? Well, they are here! You pay for good meat, of course, but the price of a beef patty in a bun can sometimes startle in this city.
Take Lucky Seven Diner as a point of reference. In their words it's a "tiny neighbourhood East Coast American Diner" with a "cult following." Tiny it is, with just eight booths (and a booth-sharing policy, which comes into operation at busier times). Opened nearly a decade ago by local restaurateur Tom Conran, Lucky Seven attempts to recreate the "All-American Diner" feel in decor—they have a poster of Barack Obama to ramp up the Americana—and on the menu, but it's the hamburgers that prove ever popular, if slightly overpriced.
A classic hamburger comes to the table ready for self-assembly, with dill pickles, slices of yellow onion, insipid tomato, and pointless bibb lettuce on the side. Ketchup, mayonnaise, and mustard are available on the table, furthering the DIY burger ethos employed here. Go for the bacon cheeseburger: a patty weighing in at around six ounces, topped with two Kraft Singles and rashers of smoked streaky bacon, nestled in a demi-brioche sesame seeded bun.
The diner receives an order of freshly ground Aberdeen Angus chuck from London's famous Smithfield meat market every day, which is then hand-pattied in preparation for the griddle. The flat-top griddle in question is well seasoned, giving the burger here an early advantage, whilst the crust that forms from this cooking method hides soft and juicy meat—a satisfactory patty to bite into. Though I wasn't asked how I wanted my burger cooked (and it subsequently arriving well done, despite the menu indicating all are cooked medium) it was still flowing with silky, fatty beef juice, which suggests a higher fat-to-flesh ratio of the meat.
Speaking of ratios, the meat-to-bun ratio was right on target, with each bite encompassing every aspect. A brioche bun usually suggests that what will arrive will be overly eggy, sweet, and often cloying, but the bun here is well-judged. Supplied by Flourish Craft Bakery, the bread is what I'd label as "demi-brioche"—halfway between a traditional brioche and a regular, squishy hamburger bun. The sweetness of the bun works to counter the saltiness of the beef, bacon, and cheese trifecta, all the while being appropriately soft and retaining its structure in the face of juicy-adversity.
The bacon is perfectly cooked, halfway between crispy and soft. It never offers resistance when bitten into, pulling apart in a bite-shape, similar to a good slow-smoked rib.
The only disappointment with the burger is an issue that I have with a lot of burgers in London: too much pepper is added. The salting is spot on, applied only when the burger is cooking on the griddle and in a good amount to the amount of meat, but the application of black pepper is unfortunately aggressive.
Aside from the burger, the only other slight disappointment is with the fries, which are frozen (not always a bad thing). These aren't bad for frozen, but fresh cut, twice-fried frites would be a better match for a good burger.
Despite the slightly-too-peppery meat being a bit of an annoyance, the burgers at Lucky Seven are good. Very good, in fact, though I will reiterate once again that I think they are just a bit too expensive. A very good effort though, and a reliable burger to fall back on in West London.