As soon as I set eyes on the Double Candy Bacon Flipper I was determined to set my claws and teeth on it, too. Only the laws of the jungle held me back. Like a animal dragging his prey to a secure place I whisked my Double Candy away from the onlookers, put some distance between myself and the food stall parasols and found a weedy patch of car park partly shaded by a brick enclosure. It was here, safe and alone, that I unwrapped this devilish stack of desires, took a first bite, enlarged it with a second and then paused to snap this photo, holding the burger in one hand (bad idea) and my camera in the other.
The Double Candy Bacon Flipper is the creation of Mother Flipper, a new street burger stall now operating on Saturdays at Brockley Market in south east London (see map). Split patties sweating grease from every pore are articulated with the sweet, pleasantly chewy crunch of the smokey streaky bacon Manuel Leal-Andrades (yes, Mother Flipper is a man) candies himself with brown sugar. The coarsely minced patties are housed with the basics – shredded lettuce, dill pickle, squirts of mustard, squiggles of ketchup – on a beautifully toasted and gently squashed brioche bun. Sensational.
To be clear, Mother Flipper isn’t at the top of the street burger tables just yet. Much as the two grillmen manage the preparation of each burger with care they can’t consistently pull off the liftoff to juicy medium rare. Taking burgers off the sizzling flat-top griddle after the cheese has melted to goop but before the comparatively thin patties have lost their interior lipstick pink colour is a game of seconds.
Over-salting is another worry. The two burgers I devoured at Mother Flipper (the second was the cheeseburger at right) were encrusted with twice the necessary quantity of Maldon sea salt flakes. My hope is that this is a temporary blip and not a reflection of London’s increasing tolerance and even preference for ferociously salty burgers. My fear is that indiscriminate salting by MEATliquor, Lucky Chip and now Mother Flipper are making more moderately seasoned burgers seem bland by comparison.
When salting a patty you must factor in the relative saltiness of the burger’s other elements. If you put anchovies in a salad or pasta you’d naturally use less salt. The same should be true if you outfit a burger with aggressively salty bacon, ketchup, processed cheese, dill pickles or all of the above.
Beyond any discussion of its burger components, Mother Flipper has a DIY sensibility I find appealing and promising. From the burger-steaming domes Leal-Andrades made from stainless steel mixing bowls and Champagne corks to the chapati skillet he heats over a Jamie Oliver mobile gas cooker to firm up and toast the split buns the vibe is analog and acoustic, much like The Meatwagon, a direct influence, in its early days.
When you reach the front of the queue and order at Mother Flipper they give you a number. Had I drawn 118, rather than 78, the countdown or, rather, the count up to my Double Candy Bacon Flipper could have been measuring my pulse rate, such was the anticipation. This is the street food experience, made to order. By the time my burger was ready I didn’t just want the Double Candy Bacon Flipper. I wanted the 78 Double Candy Bacon Flipper. In less than ten minutes Mother Flipper already had my number.