Even though I love street food, by which I mean stalls or vans that sell a very limited range of things for £5-10 apiece, it’s difficult to review. My favourite place for lunch in the world is Santana Grill, at Strutton Ground market near my office, which does some of the best burritos and tacos I’ve ever had, including in Mexico. But who wants to read a long review of a place you can’t really justify a trip to and you can’t actually eat at? That’s what the Straight Up London Food Map is for.
But the growth of permanent street food areas, where you can go all day any day, means a semi-review is justifiable. A fortnight ago I visited Dalston’s Street Feast for a Bleecker Street burger (yes, it is the best burger in London), and this week I visited the new Kerb in Camden. It’s a fairly tightly packed courtyard next to Camden Lock market, quite pretty and far away enough from the throng of the main street that you can move around easily enough. I first went as a guest of Kerb, and then went back on my own dollar a few days later. Here’s a brief review of some of the things I tried.
This place does three or four large chicken breast strips for £6, coated in batter and deep fried. The chicken is astonishingly moist – better by far than the strips at the otherwise-mighty Chick’n Sours – and the batter very crispy. I’m very impressed with the chicken here, which apparently is ‘tea brined’ and (probably because I’m a suggestable eejit) really did have a very enjoyable whiff of black tea. The massive difference between getting three and four strips is slightly annoying – four for £6 is a steal, three is decent value. Either way, this is tremendous fried chicken.
I’d never tried a ‘beef bourguignon burger’ before and since the others online look absolutely nothing like The Patate’s (thank god) I’m pretty sure they can claim it as their invention. Basically, it’s quite dry beef bourguignon fried on a griddle with gravy poured over and eventually a slice of cheese (Raclette de Savoie, blue Fourme d’Ambert or cheddar) melted on the griddle and then placed on top. It’s quite a fun thing to eat because it feels unique, but I can’t say that I’d have it again – though it’s enjoyable the flavours are too bland for me, and ultimately it feels a little bit lacking.
Other Side’s chicken breast was extremely crispily fried, decently moist (it’s stupid to compare something this size to Mother Clucker’s strips – you simply can’t get the same level of moistness because you have to cook it for longer), and dressed with some excellent homemade pickles and a generous slab of bacon.
But it also needed, I thought, more saucing. The smoked honey butter they brushed it with sounded amazing but I couldn’t really taste it, and I thought that even the buffalo burger that my friend had, with buffalo sauce squirted on from a bottle, seemed dry. They should try dunking the chicken in buffalo sauce and make the honey flavouring more pronounced because right now all the breading (on the bun and the chicken) just overwhelms the other flavours.
Halloumi fries are a very enjoyable idea, because even though you can buy a block of halloumi in Tesco Express for £1.79 it still feels like a bit of a treat. These are chip-sized bits deep fried to a golden semi-crisp, with a spongey inside and served with yoghurt, pomegranate molasses and seeds and mint leaves. It’s quite delicious – the yoghurt cuts through the saltiness of the halloumi and the pomegranate sweetness adds a nice extra dimension – but not really sustainable for a whole meal. Everyone I saw was getting a portion of fries between two, and one was enough for the two of us as a chaser to our Mother Clucker servings.
I also tried steak and chips from Steakhaus, but forgot to take a photo – it was OK, a decently seasoned bit of (I think) bavette steak, but nothing special. I’m not sure it makes sense to give a street food venue a rating, but there are enough places that looked nice that I’ll probably be back to try them. I don’t like Camden, but Kerb does make it quite a bit less terrible.