Shrimp Po Boy at The Diner, Soho

22 Jan

LOCATION: The Diner, Soho (18 Ganton Street London, W1F 7BU). Map.

PRICE£6.40? Around the £6 mark anyway (I’ve lost the receipt and it isn’t on their web menu)

BREAD: A soft white sub.

FILLING: Battered, deep fried prawns with a mayo based sauce and shredded lettuce.

PROS: Um. Ummmmmm. Right, so the sauce was okay – piquant yet sweet mayo, with little crunchy bits of onion and ummm, ooh, the sub roll was nice and soft.

CONS: Crikey. Okay so, the prawns. This is a shrimp po boy right, so that means the shrimp/prawns are the  most important ingredient. If the prawns at The Diner did not come from a freezer bag I would be very surprised indeed; they tasted funky, almost ‘high’ with unpleasant fishiness and were coated in the kind of batter one finds surrounding a sweet and sour chicken ball. Po boy prawns should be coated in a cornmeal batter, surely? These tasted of grease and meals at TGI Fridays circa 1995. The sub was nice and soft, as I said, but really, I was clutching at straws.

You may, quite rightly, be wondering what I was thinking ordering a sandwich from a chain restaurant in soho. The reason I did is because I’d heard good things about a limited edition burger they’re soon to launch and the po boy – honestly – did look nice when they posted a picture on Twitter. Also, where else does one get a po boy in London? I was so excited to try this famous Louisiana creation but it seems I may have to make my own version at home, pending my lottery win which will take me on an eating tour of America.

SCORE: 2/10

My po’ boy recipe here.

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36 Responses to “Shrimp Po Boy at The Diner, Soho”

  1. Matthew January 22, 2012 at 10:28 am #

    Having had two or three of these on a trip to the deep south not long ago, all at different eating establishments, I really think The Diner have come up with a pretty authentic shrimp po’ boy.

    Or at least, it’s hard to find a good one on either side of the Atlantic!

    • londonreviewofsandwiches January 22, 2012 at 10:34 am #

      Are you serious?! Do all shrimp po boys taste like grease and old prawns? Yum. Also, every other picture of a shrimp po boy I’ve seen has a cornmeal batter on it?

  2. Chris Pople January 22, 2012 at 12:22 pm #

    Whilst hardly an exhaustive search, I googled ‘Po Boy’ London and drew a complete blank. Automat used to do one apparently but it’s closed now (and wasn’t that good anyway).

    None of the big soul food places in town have it on the menu, and despite the odd fleeting ‘special’ here and there it’s as rare as a brass monkey’s bollocks.

    Oh, the Diner in Soho do one. Oh wait…

  3. Helen January 22, 2012 at 2:23 pm #

    What a shame – I’ve been here for breakfast before and it was amazing! Pancakes with bacon and syrup, and bourbon chocolate milkshake, breakfast of champions 🙂 Those prawns don’t look good though…

  4. hollowlegs January 23, 2012 at 12:37 pm #

    The only time I had a po’boy was in Houston airport in 2010; it was massive, the prawns were juicy and judging by the picture breaded with cornmeal. Those prawns sound rank; poor show.

    • londonreviewofsandwiches January 23, 2012 at 12:40 pm #

      Imagine if we could get anything approaching a decent po boy in a UK airport?! Crikey. That would be amazing.

  5. Alicia (Foodycat) January 23, 2012 at 12:45 pm #

    I’ve never had one, but I’ve put the ingredients in my shopping order this week. It sounds like such a good idea, I am going to make my own!

  6. Simon Doggett (@simondoggett) January 23, 2012 at 12:52 pm #

    I’ve had proper Texan po boy’s in Austin. The real deal.

    There is nothing remotely similar to be had in London.

    The Diner has become a reprehensible parody of American fare.

    • londonreviewofsandwiches January 23, 2012 at 1:00 pm #

      Crikey, I suppose I only have myself to blame really. I mean, I’d heard such good things about this burger they’re doing but this was just an abomination.

  7. Stu_N January 23, 2012 at 12:53 pm #

    A foodie friend made some a while ago using a New Orleans recipe — spiced cornmeal batter and sauce — and it was lovely. I think home-made is probably the only way to go in London ATM, although it sounds like the sort of thing that Pitt Cue could be persuaded to try…

  8. abinadressmaker January 23, 2012 at 12:55 pm #

    Eating a po boy has long been one of my greatest ambitions. Maybe you could take this to Food Stories and do a recipe (pleaaase)?

    • londonreviewofsandwiches January 23, 2012 at 1:02 pm #

      I think I might just do that you know! I’ll probably post it on here as I’ll be posting home made sandwiches too…

      • abinadressmaker January 25, 2012 at 12:23 pm #

        Excellent! I shall look forward to it.

  9. tomatoesandradiowire January 23, 2012 at 2:22 pm #

    I had an oyster po’boy in New Orleans several years ago which was pretty mindblowing. The cornmeal crispiness with the tender, ocean-tasting stuff in the middle…ooh. Probably a little more difficult to recreate at home than a prawn one, though.

    • londonreviewofsandwiches January 23, 2012 at 3:03 pm #

      ooh yeah I’ve always fancied the oyster version too. A bit more a faff, true but once you’ve shucked the oysters, not too much different i shouldn’t think.

      • Russ January 25, 2012 at 1:40 pm #

        You may get an opportunity at the bar Hawksmoor are opening under their Spitalfields site (well I hope “Fried Oyster Roll” translates to a Po’ Boy). Deep fried Bull’s Testicles? Might need a few drinks before I tackle (see what I did there) any of those…
        http://sut5.co.uk/l/c.php?c=15313&ct=44353&si=3495691&u

      • londonreviewofsandwiches January 25, 2012 at 1:51 pm #

        Yes! Just got the press release for this – v exciting. An oyster po boy is definitely a thing. Can’t believe I didn’t think of Hawksmoor before!

  10. The Grubworm January 25, 2012 at 8:42 am #

    I’ve got to pretty much echo what Simon Doggett says above. I’ve eaten oyster and shrimp po’ boys in New Orleans and nothing has come close since. And what you decribe aove sounds dreadful. Sure they’re deep fried, but the batter should super crispy and clean, not greasy. And the shrimps must be as fresh as possible.

    I still think that good US cuisine is hard to find in the UK, I don’t think anyone, bar the odd burger-obsessive, has got their head round it. Maybe it’s something to do with the thought that gets out into what we consider to be junk food (and so unworthy of thought) in the UK?

    • londonreviewofsandwiches January 25, 2012 at 9:21 am #

      Yeah, maybe that’s it. I think the situation is improving but we still only have a few places doing it properly, as you say. Think I’m going to just try making one at home instead! Good to hear I’m not going crazy thinking this it totally un-authentic!

  11. Ben February 29, 2012 at 12:23 pm #

    Po’ Boys are a Nawlins specialty and having spent a year there I have never come across one as good as those there, certainly nowhere in London! It has to be said, and someone else made this point that The Diner ‘chain’ is a poor imitation of what can be great American food – the Mac & Cheese at Mishkins is a million miles better than the Diners and their burgers are pretty shoddy too

  12. Leroy March 10, 2012 at 9:08 am #

    Good authentic po-boys in London will be here by this summer. Stand by people…watch this space.

  13. kefuoe February 25, 2013 at 2:27 pm #

    Late to the party: I just mis-heard someone say ‘shrimp po’boy’ here at work, and being a transplanted New Orleanian, I felt I couldn’t rest until I got one. I got excited that my Google search lead me here, but I was disappointed as soon as I saw the photo. Yep, wrong batter, questionable sauce, and that’s just by looking. I feel truly sorry for anyone who hasn’t had a proper po’boy. It’s a joyous thing. I guess I’ll just have to wait until my next trip home…

  14. LAUREN | LUCELUXE April 1, 2015 at 5:44 pm #

    I only ever order the Po Boy from The Diner since I’m a pescetarian and mine NEVER looks like this. My prawns always come coated in a crumb and certainly not a batter and the hoagie roll (also, nothing like this) is the reason I shell out the £9 and don’t just get the prawn mini dish which just excludes all the bits and bobs that make it a sandwich. – I think you got a dud.

  15. Melanie July 1, 2015 at 3:04 am #

    You may already know this, but for a New Orleans po boy to be the real deal, it has to be pressed. That means in a presser, that smooshes and toasts the bread flat and crunchy. The thing they do up north is a hoagie or a sub, we do po boys, and po boys are generally pressed, at least on the Gulf Coast. Also, check into the French Dip po boy, and the hamburger po boy (fry three hamburgers, in a fat roundish shape. Slice them in half across the width. Slice tomatoes. On French bread, mayo, lettuce, tomatoes, the three sliced patties-all six halves-salt and pepper. Use Duke’s mayo. You don’t have to press this one, though pressing never hurts a po boy. Eat over the kitchen sink, as the juice from the tomatoes and the fried hamburgers will run down your arms).

  16. Melanie January 18, 2016 at 10:40 am #

    Also-for frying shrimp, catfish, or oysters for po boys (it’s good for frying seafood anytime, really), we use a cornmeal premix called Fish Fry-Zatarain’s is a good one. It comes already seasoned so you don’t get the blandness of plain old cornmeal. You can use an egg dip first, the Zatarain’s site recommends trying a Creole mustard dip instead (sounds good to me). They also make the very best shrimp boil, both liquid and powder, for boiling for a shrimp or crawfish boil. OT-it’s not a sandwich, but a good shrimp boil is shrimp boiled in water with a lot of Zatarain’s boil (I prefer the liquid, because it’s stronger and less salty, I like a good kick in my boiled shrimp), and use a really big pot, because you’ll also add new potatoes (don’t peel them), whole corn on the cob cut in halves, onions (just cut them in half, you don’t need to slice them) , lemons cut in half, and some cayenne pepper if you like a real punch. The potatoes and corn are as tasty as the shrimp or crawfish made this way. You can’t really mess it up-if it’s too strong, just add more water, if it’s too weak, just add more Zatarains and cayenne. Some people pour a can or so of beer in the water too.

    If you use crawfish, don’t forget to hang up your sign, like the old New Orleans places have-“Pinch the heads, suck the tails” 😉

    Got your book, it’s great, need a second edition, so many great sandwiches, so little time!

    • londonreviewofsandwiches January 18, 2016 at 10:41 am #

      Aww thanks! Maybe I will do a second edition one day. I certainly have enough ideas.

      • Melanie January 19, 2016 at 11:43 pm #

        Yes you do, need to do a second edition, I bet you have some gems still on hold! I could chow down on a good Reuben or muffaletta (could make it at home, but mine just aren’t as good as the ones I can buy in Baton Rouge when I visit my niece, even though I use the same brand of olive salad that the original uses). Just like certain salads, even the simplest wedge type salads, somehow aren’t as good when I make them at home as opposed to the restaurant where I had them. And my Reubens certainly aren’t as good as the deli’s! The restaurant’s salad greens always seem to have more snap and “bite”, maybe because they have the proper storage to keep them in a colder and way less humid atmosphere than my plain old fridge with crisper drawer, especially in Mississippi’s year-round humidity and not much cold weather.

        Anyway, you write that second edition, I’ll buy it and use it 🙂

        Alrighty, here I’ll give you an artery-clogging southern specialty sandwich (I remember them fondly, but never eat them anymore, as I’m too old to risk the heart attack, lol)-peanut butter, smooth or crunchy, doesn’t matter, and strips of crisply fried bacon (I should say, what we Americans call bacon), on plain old solid whole wheat bread (who were they kidding when they chose that bread, hehe). I know, sounds gross, but tastes great. But it’s the kind of thing you eat a few times while you’re young and will burn it off, and remember fondly as you get on up there in age.

        And just for you, because I believe that you appreciate good food-here’s the family gumbo secret, passed down from generation to generation (from my father’s side which hails from New Orleans)-after you’ve made the roux, added the stock or broth and Holy Trinity seasonings, before the seafood and okra, sausage, chicken, what-have-you—have a largish cup of the morning’s coffee set aside to sit and get strong while you do the other things, then add it in. Unsweetened of course, just plain black coffee, old, cold, and strong. It makes a difference, my daughters-in-law want my recipe but I’ve wiggled out of it so far. It also doesn’t hurt that I use my Dad’s huge old gumbo pot with the heavy heavy aluminum bottom, makes a perfect surface for making the roux, plus I believe he left some of his cooking mojo in it (IIRC, he actually made this pot himself, he could make anything, and that man could cook anything, he passed some years ago and I hope it makes him happy to know that I will never taste beignets as good as his as long as I live).

      • londonreviewofsandwiches January 20, 2016 at 9:08 am #

        Wow, thanks so much for the recipe! It sounds really interesting and I’ll definitely try it.

        We call American bacon streaky bacon here in the UK and it’s very popular along with back bacon, although I know Americans who go crazy for back bacon when they’re here.

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