Traditional Is Overrated: Clerkenwell's Newest Chippie Does A Great Prawn Burger

United Chip ★★★★☆

Traditional Is Overrated: Clerkenwell's Newest Chippie Does A Great Prawn Burger United Chip 4
Getting chippy with it. Photo by Justin De Souza.

All 30-ish of the seats at United Chip fill up on the Thursday we visit, with queues forming for both seats and takeaway as the evening winds on. Some of the punters might be here on the back of a recent broadsheet review, praising their chips to the skies — but a friend who works nearby tells us the chippy's been more or less this busy since opening in November.  

If traditional's more your speed, beloved Holborn chippy Fryer's Delight is just a fifteen minute walk away. They can cater to all your mug-of-tea, slab-of-buttered-white-bread needs. United Chip, though, is more of a hybrid.

On the side of tradition: fluffy-centred, perfectly crispy chips, thick and golden; cod, saveloys and curry sauce on the menu; comforting, vinegar-wafting warmth as you step through the door. On the side of London 2018: you can swap your thick chips for slim, Belgian-style frites; craft IPAs, 'Bangkok mayo' and soft shell crab burgers on the menu; sustainable sourcing of their fish; pastel-hued decor and retro lettering with at least one eye on instagrammability.

The chips, thick or thin, are splendid. If you're wrestling with the choice we'd point out the trad, thick ones are better vessels for the curry sauce, which shouldn't be missed — even if you don't think you like chip shop curry sauce, this is a different, fragrant beast.

Photo by Justin De Souza.

So they're great at potatoes, but United Chip has far more going for it than that. Things to love about their menu include the pollock — golden-battered, meaty, and comes in three sizes, all of them generous for the price. There's a Crate Brewery lemon gose on the beer menu, citrusy-bright and as entirely right with fish and chips as vinegar or tartare sauce. And the Bangkok prawn bun doesn't look bigger or more indulgent than your average burger, but with the prawns fried into a dense, supple slab and covered with creamily rich, spicy mayo becomes something intensely decadent.

We're not entirely sold on the mushy peas — a bit too fresh and clean-tasting, shouldn't they feel a bit filthier? Also the fixed stools are slightly amiss, some of which get you cosy with strangers in a way usually reserved for the Central line at rush hour. But the welcome's warm, the buzz is friendly, and the food is the sort that feels like a lovely, vinegary overcoat against the winter weather outside.

United Chip, 5 Clerkenwell Road, EC1M 5PE.

Last Updated 12 April 2018

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