Review: Lucky Fried Chicken, The Grafton


The launch was soon rammed with the hipster brigade all pressed against the bar ordering cocktails – but what’s the poultry like?



The upstairs room at The Grafton now looks amazing. With new residents Lucky Chip in the kitchen, the space has been totally rethought, with booths, candles, sparkling white tiling, and a counter that hovers somewhere in the zeitgeist between fast food joint and cocktail bar.

For the uninitiated, Lucky Chip is an acclaimed Hackney burger joint with sister slider bar in Soho. For a month only, before the regular patty-and-bun offering kicks in, they’ve squeezed in a pop-up – Lucky Fried Chicken – to get us all talking about it. And of course, here we all are talking about it.

Lucky counterLucky Fried Chicken has to win an award for the capital’s most ironic recreation yet of a 1950s American fast food menu. And where Chicken Shop roasts, they fry. But does a picture of a colonel in shades sail dangerously close to a law suit?

No matter, it’s only around for an undetermined “few weeks”, according to owner Ben. And at the launch yesterday, it was soon rammed with the hipster brigade all pressed against the bar ordering cocktails, from classics like mojitos to Grafton Specials (cucumber martini, anyone?) All of which is seems a welcome addition giving the pub yet another USP in this part of town. There’s a full list of wine and beers too, including both draft Pale Ale and Hell’s lager from the nearby Brewery.

The menu is illuminated, allowing customers to contemplate whether to plump for an ‘individual box’ (3 pieces of chicken, creamed potatoes, country gravy, slaw hot rolls) or various other combos from a ‘jumbo’ (5 pieces) to ‘barrel o’ chicken’, which at £38, feeds 7-10 hungry mouths across 21 pieces and is “perfect for church functions and social groups.” So far, so amusant.

On Wednesdays weekly specials of chicken livers, duck hearts and gizzards are wheeled out (around £4 a portion), so we started with a selection, all expertly fried, tender and moist, especially the hearts with their deeply flavoursome savoury centre. Ben was on hand to reassure us that the meat was from Berkshire, both free range and organic, hence perhaps higher prices than your average takeaway.

Lucky foodWe then plumped for a ‘Thrift Box’, which at £19.50 was advised to feed 3-5 people (there were 4 of us). The biggest surprise was that the chicken, juicy and fingerlickin’, has a powerful hit of spice, although its coating was less “fried” than you might expect. Our foodie friend Matt (who is currently preparing a daunting 9 course charity dinner) was less impressed with the chips, however, which he reckoned were too pale and salty.

But we were too busy plunging our ‘dinner rolls’ into a wonderful creamy potato, sinking like a wreck in gravy, and nibbling on coleslaw that wasn’t quite as good as you know who, but still had the tangy sweetness that offsets white meat so delectably.

Lucky rammedBut the food is only a starting point here. The place felt vibrant and exciting, with a genuine atmosphere of discovery, despite the food offering being, in all honesty, not as cutting edge as the previous Grafton menu. And unlike Chicken Shop’s splendid rotisserie, with its theatre of slicing and chopping in the open kitchen, it’s a little harder to rave about the processes behind fried chicken.

Yet LFC epitomises K-Town’s current spirit, and we love what everyone involved is trying to achieve. Our only minor complaint was that the booths were too tight and wobbly, better suited to two than four. And whilst some readers have tweeted us already about prices, under a tenner for a main meal doesn’t feel too extortionate.

If you’re not a chicken lover, don’t forget Lucky Fried is only a sizzle in the pan; it’ll mutate into a burger bar soon (“what we do best,” said Ben). And there are no bookings; the food offering is available throughout both bars of The Grafton. But in the meantime we suggest catching this quirky poultry pop-up, yet more evidence of Prince Of Wales Road’s new-found status as the streetfood capital of NW5.

This is box title
Kentishtowner Rating: 7.5/10 Meal for two with cocktails around £40. Upstairs at The Grafton, 20 Prince Of Wales Road.

Words & Photos: Stephen Emms


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  • K Town lover

    Arrrgh….it’s official. KT is going to turn into a hipster Mecca. Is no one else worried that the pace of gentrification in Kentish Town is alarmingly fast? Or is just me?

  • Kate

    I’ve only been there for lunch in the week since the change and although you say the prices aren’t extortionate the main course options were a choice of only two different chicken burgers, one at £8 and one at £10. Not too bad until you realise that doesn’t include chips or any other sides. So soon it’s way over a tenner and as you mention the fries were a rather pale and underwhelming sized portion. So I was a bit disappointed, especially after having raved about the food there to the friend who I’d taken along. The fries previously were delicious and bountiful and the mains were about £7-8 inclusive of all the necessary trimmings. Still, the upstairs bit sounds fun and a bit different and I’ll definitely give it a whirl if I can before it pops off. And the staff there are just lovely and the beers great so that makes me go back regardless of grub. Just make weekday menus more reasonable maybe? And cook the fries for longer and give us more. Oh and please tell me the scotch eggs are still there? They are phenomenal

  • Owen

    Can’t see how people can complain about the price, the snack box 2 pieces of chicken for £7.50, and these pieces aren’t small either. Take a look in any leading supermarket chain, and 2 breasts of top quality free range chicken is around £6. With that in mind I think it’s good value.
    Looking forward to the burger bar opening up

  • Lewi

    I went yesterday with the other half, expecting good things.
    The chicken coating was too spicy, very greasy and not crunchy at all. In fact, it slid right off the chicken. We were also waiting for food for about an hour as our order was mixed up wtih another tables, and then there was a ‘fryer issue’. We did get a couple of vouchers for half-price individual boxes ‘for next time’, but still… Very disappointing.
    Mashed potato was good, chips were alright, chicken livers could have done with less batter.

    Lovely pub though.

  • KB

    Grafton Arms is doing it well at the moment. Good fast food, good beer selection, and good whiskey selection. Am also a little concerned about hipsters migrating from East London

  • Geoffram

    Well, I went last week. The thing about Fried Chicken ( he says knowledgeably) is that if you make it and keep it warm for too long, it starts to go soggy and greasy, and that’s what it tasted like to us. Oh, and the chips seemed like they were from a packet. And one other thing: my chicken was pink. I sent it back and another one came the same colour, so I left that too. Although the chef assured me (via the waitress) that it was cooked at a certain temperature, I have to say to me it looked underdone. My partner’s portion was, by contrast, white inside.
    So, I’m really sorry, while I love the idea, and I think the new Grafton is just brilliant,I don’t particularly want to go back. If only The Chicken Shop were open at lunchtimes…