Dip & Flip is one of the large number of middle-market hamburger restaurants that have swarmed like locusts across the city. This swarm is an unreservedly good thing, because hamburgers are delicious and just a few years ago it was very difficult to find anywhere decent at all. I wake up in cold sweats sometimes remembering the time I wanted a burger so much in 2009 that I resorted to the awful Gourmet Burger Kitchen, whose name is misleading on at least two out of three counts.
Dip & Flip sets itself apart from the Patty and Buns and Honest Burgers of this world by topping its hamburgers with thin slices of roast beef or lamb and pouring gravy over most of the food they sell, as well as giving you a bowl of gravy to dip your burger into. In these things it is unique, and although it is probably not the best hamburger you can get in London, it is special enough that I tend to crave it regularly.
Their newest branch in Tooting was half-empty when I visited on Thursday night, which is hopefully a reflection of Tooting’s gentrification-in-progress status more than insufficient demand for what Dip & Flip are selling. I had the Dip & Flip burger with lamb, and the chips with cheese curds and gravy. They used to call this poutine but I suspect poutine purists complained.
The burger was good, as it usually is: a generous patty cooked to pinkness, some cheese, two large longitudinally-sliced bits of pickle, a fairly hefty topping of roast lamb (cut very thinly) and quite a lot of gravy. The burger was large but well balanced, though my lamb was a little too fatty. For some reason one of the girls I was eating with had an egg added to hers, which sounds absolutely disgusting to me, but she said was very good.
Chips were perhaps a little limp, though this might be inevitable because of the amount of gravy they were served in. What worked quite well about the chips was the herbs (thyme?) they were topped with, which added to the savouriness. The gravy itself was pretty similar to what you get with any decent roast dinner. My biggest complaint about the gravy is that, because they serve it in a wide tin bowl, it goes quite cold quickly, which is a little unappetising by the end of the meal when everything else is lukewarm.
My peanut butter and chocolate milkshake was fine – far worse than Shake Shack’s or McDonald’s’s, but about as good as most other milkshakes I’ve had. The smaller size is perfectly adequate, by the way – the large is unnecessary. Bourbon was a nice addition to the chocolate shake.
To my mind, this all goes together rather well. Dipping the burger in the gravy feels luxurious and indulgent, and the burger itself is constructed well enough to mostly hold together during this ordeal. From looking at pictures of poutine, I think a thicker gravy might work better for the chips, though not for the burger.
It is difficult – no, impossible – to eat this food without getting really messy, which bothers me less than some. Do not go on a first date here with anyone except a confirmed sitophile. And the sheer volume and richness of the food may be too much for some people to enjoy. Interestingly, of the three times I have been to Dip & Flip, at least one person with me has been unimpressed with the whole thing. (Out of politeness, I won’t name the person who said they preferred Byron – Byron!)
But for me, Dip & Flip has smartly side-stepped the main hamburger competition and come up with a unique, meaty meal that occupies its own space in my mind as most other burgers do not. And its three branches are all in south London – Clapham Junction, Wimbledon and Tooting – which, selfishly, makes me like them that bit more. I can understand why Dip & Flip isn’t for everyone, but for anyone to whom food being ‘too much’ sounds like a positive, it’s definitely worth a visit.
Rating: 〶 – One medal.