Christmas High Street Sandwich Showdown!

3 Dec

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I found myself around Chancery Lane recently, standing within spitting distance of an EAT, a Pret, a Boots and Marks & Sparks, all at the same time. No surprises there, huh, Londoners! They all offer Christmas sandwiches, so it was time to see which one makes the best. Yes I know I’ve left out the supermarkets and coffee shops but in case you haven’t noticed, this blog is a product of my whim and fancy at any given moment and anyway, I had 15 minutes to get to a meeting; 15 minutes is a 4 sandwich window.

LOCATIONS: Pret a Manger, Boots, Marks & Spencer, EAT – all on High Holborn [map]

PRICES:

Pret: £3. 50

Boots: £2.60

M & S: £3.25

EAT: £3.50

BREADS: All malted wheatgrain bread.

FILLINGS: 

Pret: Turkey, pork stuffing, cranberry sauce, crispy onions, spinach, mayo.

Boots: Turkey, pork sage and onion stuffing, bacon, cranberry sauce, spinach, mayo.

M & S: Turkey, pork and chestnut stuffing, smoked bacon, spiced cranberry chutney, butter, mayo.

EAT: Turkey, pork sage and onion stuffing, smoked ham, cranberry sauce, reduced fat mayo, mixed leaves.

CHARITY DONATIONS:

Pret: 5p per sandwich to Hope for the Homeless.

Boots: Fuck all.

M & S: 5p per sandwich to Shelter.

EAT: 25p per sandwich to homeless charities.

PROS & CONS:

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Pret: Oh, hello mayo! What a surprise it is to find a lot of mayo in a Pret sandwich. HEAVY SARCASM. The stuffing is quite nice and ‘poncy with sage’ although it overpowers the turkey. To be fair though, there’s not much flavour in a turkey to be overpowered. There’s loads of spinach too, but I rather enjoy its festive colour. Thankfully, they’ve been parsimonious with the cranberry sauce, which is one of the main evils lurking within the Christmas sandwich. In short, it’s not bad. Relatively speaking. BRACE…

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Boots: This is, visually, a shocker. We don’t even want to eat it but you know…all in the name of research. The smell upon release from protective environment is one funky kiff of artificial smoke flavour and, sure enough, the label reveals this isn’t properly smoked bacon but a shadow of the proper thing infused with ‘smoke flavour’. Seriously Boots, you’re already up against it with the fact that the bacon is cold, dammit! Have some respect for a) the sandwich b) the pork products and c) YOUR CUSTOMERS.

All we can taste is the shitty fake smoke flavour of course. Oh and the sweetness; it is overwhelmingly sweet with nasty cheap cranberry sauce. To top it off, they give a big fat zero of the profits to charity, making them the meanest of the bunch. Stick to selling drugs and plasters, Boots the Chemist.

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M & S: This is one deeeeeeep fill; so stuffed and meaty and varied in shades of pink it is described as looking like ‘a war wound’. It is rammed. This makes it a very Christmassy tasting sandwich, the most so far, although it is incredibly dense and in the end, pretty damn hard work. There’s no denying the value for money though and respect on the butter AND mayo – it is Christmas after all!

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EAT: I immediately notice the stuffing, which has been made in a sort of giant block and then sliced. Kudos for the reasoning behind this which I hope is in order to maintain the structural integrity of the sandwich by ensuring that the stuffing lies flat. I like the sentiment but it’s visually a bit wrong in a sort of Bernard Matthews way.

The turkey is actually discernable here, which tells you that there is a lot of it. A lot. It’s dry. The leaves are totally misjudged, like the kind one finds in a bag of mixed salad from the supermarket; sort of spiky yet sodden and wilted at the same time. Spinach works better. Also, reduced fat mayo? EXPLAIN YOURSELF.

SCORES:

Pret: 3/10

Boots: 1/10

M & S: 3.5/10

EAT: 2.5/10 (an extra point for a proper 25p donation to charity)

M & S wins mainly on generosity of filling and festive taste. Pret and EAT are, well, Pret and EAT. Boots bombs spectacularly, having managed to make a really grim sandwich, and not donate any of the proceeds to charity, as is tradition. At the end of the day though, I’d advise just giving some money to charity, making your own sandwich at home and avoiding the whole sorry lot.

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28 Responses to “Christmas High Street Sandwich Showdown!”

  1. Paul Hill December 3, 2012 at 12:29 pm #

    Bad times :( I love Christmas sandwiches, you’re right though, best to make them at home Christmas Day night, and again on Boxing Day

    • londonreviewofsandwiches December 3, 2012 at 12:49 pm #

      I agree. The Christmas sandwich just isn’t suited to sitting about…

      • Paul Hill December 5, 2012 at 11:17 am #

        Hawksmoor have just posted a picture of a pretty epic Christmas Turkey Burger!

      • londonreviewofsandwiches December 5, 2012 at 11:30 am #

        Oh HAVE they now. Right then….

  2. hollowlegs December 3, 2012 at 12:34 pm #

    I find the whole idea of the Christmas sandwich a bit revolting. No one makes sandwiches out of Christmas leftovers, that’s what the Boxing Day PICKLE BINGE is for!

    (Caveat: I’ve never eaten a Christmas sandwich. I still don’t think I will.)

    • londonreviewofsandwiches December 3, 2012 at 12:48 pm #

      I make sandwiches out of xmas leftovers! No surprises there though eh? I don’t put turkey in them though and I would never use cranberry sauce. I make the sandwich as part of the pickle binge. Basically, I will make a sandwich in any situation.

      • Jasmit December 3, 2012 at 9:16 pm #

        What’s a pickle binge?! I’ve never encountered this creature…

      • londonreviewofsandwiches December 3, 2012 at 9:23 pm #

        Whaaaaa? SO it’s basically a boxing day buffet with an outrageous amount of pickles….

    • Funky foodie December 5, 2012 at 5:53 pm #

      We actually have our “pickle binge” on christmas day! Pickles, chips, crisps, slices, salads etc = nice easy, deliscious food! So we can relax, open presents, feast and chill on christmas day, and then cook up a storm on boxing day! Soo much more time to chillax with family

  3. Keen on Food December 3, 2012 at 12:38 pm #

    Prêt a mayo : ) .. what a spectacularly low ranking review. Where’s the xmas cheer? and what about subway??

    • londonreviewofsandwiches December 3, 2012 at 12:46 pm #

      Yeah, they were all rubbish, that was the problem. As I said at the beginning, 15 minutes is a 4 sandwich window….

      I can’t go in Subway anyway. What IS that smell?!

  4. Donald December 3, 2012 at 1:19 pm #

    Are you being a little harsh on the Boots one, after all it’s 65p cheaper than the next cheapest sandwich there….

  5. Alice December 3, 2012 at 2:12 pm #

    I always go pret for the one masterful ingredient that is the CRISPY ONIONS. can’t get enough of those bad boys.

  6. tehbus December 3, 2012 at 3:51 pm #

    WHAT THE HELL IS UP WITH ALL THE MAYO!

  7. Suzie F December 3, 2012 at 4:34 pm #

    I see to that you ate your 4 sandwiches on a train. What did the general public make of you sitting there stuffing them down at top speed? AND judging by your “in the end” comment during the trial of the M&S sarnie you ate the whole damn lot. Well done you!!
    How did that meeting go?

    • londonreviewofsandwiches December 3, 2012 at 4:37 pm #

      The meeting went very well thank you! And yeah I ate them on the train, although no one else was around to witness it. Probably for the best…

  8. Emily G December 3, 2012 at 5:11 pm #

    I think every Christmas sandwich is called ‘Turkey Feast’. We need some variety here!

    • londonreviewofsandwiches December 3, 2012 at 5:13 pm #

      Yes! To be fair Pret do a nut roast veggie option and the others did do a variation I think but I wanted to get similar sandwiches for obvious comparison purposes. Still though, I know what you mean. A little creativity on the naming front would be welcome!

      • hollowlegs December 4, 2012 at 10:29 am #

        IS IT VEGAN???

  9. kirses December 4, 2012 at 1:00 am #

    Christmas sandwich done at home: chicken, homemade stuffing, sliced leftover roast potatoes (heated), cheese, tomato relish.

    One year I made a Christmas pizza on Boxing day, but it just wasn’t the same (it wasn’t a sandwich for a start).

  10. Miss Whiplash December 4, 2012 at 10:29 pm #

    Not sure I’d do it if I didn’t have to, but the Pret veggie Christmas sandwich is usually far better than the turkey one…

    • londonreviewofsandwiches December 4, 2012 at 10:51 pm #

      You know I thought it might be…I didn’t buy it though as I needed points of comparison. I must say it looked much better.

      • Miss Whiplash December 5, 2012 at 5:22 pm #

        Apparently my info is out of date and now there’s some kind of nut roast whatnot…
        It used to be brie and cranberry (basically a bit like cheese and pickle) – can’t really go that far wrong there.

  11. s galbraith December 8, 2012 at 9:05 pm #

    I know pret may only donate 5p per sandwich but they are donating 5p from EVERY sandwich and baguette over the festive period. (contributing to 143, 000 so far!)

  12. All Seasons Catering January 18, 2013 at 3:22 pm #

    As an expat caterer in Perth, who still hasn’t finished with catering for Christmas parties, I wish I had the money to import this selection of sandwiches. I’ve been in Oz for many years but the British do still make the best sarnies!

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