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]
Pret: £3. 50
M & S: £3.25
BREADS: All malted wheatgrain bread.
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.
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:
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…
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.
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!
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.
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.