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Salt Beef on Challah Roll from Delancey & Co., Goodge Street

2 Apr

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LOCATION: Delancey & Co., 34 Goodge St, London, W1T 2QL [map]

PRICE: £10.65

BREAD: Challah roll.

FILLING: A huge amount of salt beef. I went for the ‘bigger beef’. A smaller serving is available at £8.75, although that isn’t actually small, either. Also American mustard, and mixed pickles.

PROS: All the pros. The challah roll is just sweet enough, just sturdy enough, and just about big enough, so it struggles a little to accommodate all that glorious meat. There are rye options, but they do far too good a job of containing everything and I prefer to pick up the spillage with my mustard stained mitts like a feral. Also, it’s tastier and it’s SHINY. Oh and it’s made by a Jewish baker who bakes it only for them. Just get the challah, guys, okay?

Oh, the beef! So soft, with lovely edges of fat. Just like me. They make it themselves. This has to be the best salt beef in London right now. Easily. Sorry Selfridge’s, sorry Monty’s, sorry…actually Beigel Bake isn’t really about the quality of the salt beef, is it? Anyway, sorrys all round. Forget about all others. Eat Delancey dust, etc. etc.

The pickles are excellent, by the way. Did you think they wouldn’t be? Ha, fool!  They make those, of course, and you can get sweet n’ sour, salty or New Green (NYC half sours – seasonal). I get a mixture of sweet n’ sour and salty in my sandwich. Do that. Sometimes I get a slice of Swiss. That’s not really necessary.

CONS: Well, I say ‘cons’ but really I just need something to write here. The menu can be a little overwhelming at first, with so many options for ‘load ups’ but it’s not, once you get started going there every week. What? The smoked salmon is worth a try, too. I like it on a plain bagel with chive cream cheese schmear and seaweed. Bonus picture at the end.

I love Delancey and Co. so much I just did a little spontaneous rap about them. Here it is.

Delancey and Co, I am a ho, for yo,

Can’t spend enough of my dough, getting your beef into my face hole.

Yeah okay maybe not.

SCORE: 10/10

Delancey and co smoked salmon

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Philly Cheesesteak at Liberty Cheesesteak, Victoria

5 Jun

Cheesesteak

LOCATION: Liberty Cheesesteak stall, Cardinal Place Shopping Centre, Victoria, SW1E 5JD [map].

PRICE: £8.00 for a whole one. You can also buy a half for er, £4 I guess?

BREAD: Italian-style sub roll.

FILLING: Rib-eye steak, Cheez Whiz, fried onions.

PROS: Soooo, the deal with Liberty Cheesesteak is that they are all about the authenticity. While I was waiting for my mate I overheard one of the cooks saying to an American customer, “when we sawwww how people were doing cheesesteaks over herrrre we were all like, whaaaaaa???!!” and so Liberty Cheesesteak was born. The sandwich apparently should not contain any extras, such as the commonly added fried green peppers, only the fried steak, the onions, the cheese, that’s it.

Now I am not a fan of the food police, you must know that, but I have to say, this was a fine cheesesteak. I like green peppers in a cheesesteak, I do, but it turns out that I also like the sandwich very much without ’em. The beef was rib eye, cut into really thin slices (I presume by freezing it first), then slapped on the hot plate and chopped up and mixed with the onions using those scrapey flippy spatula jobbies. There were three options for cheese: Whiz, American, and Provolone. I went for Whiz, firstly because it was billed as ‘authentic’ HINT HINT and also because I’ve always wanted to try it. It’s like artificial processed cheese that comes in jars. The Americans love that shit. It was great in the cheesesteak I have to say, like a cheesier Dairylea or a melted slappy cheese slice, and it made for the most wonderful goo inside the sandwich when mixed with the hot meat. That sounds horrible but was great, really. Honest. You no like idea of goo? No goo for you? Boo hoo. Okay I’ll stop.

Oh and the bread! Those very light and easily inhalable Italian style subs that the Americans do so well.  They didn’t get the bread FROM America, obviously, but they have, apparently, ‘worked with a baker in Putney’. So there ya go.

CONS: Ummm well we agreed the meat could use some pepper, but other than that it’s hard to think of any. Still meat in a bun wit cheez though innit, so just shy of full marks.

SCORE: 8/10

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Muffuletta at The Lockhart, Marble Arch

28 Jan

LOCATION: The Lockhart, 22-24 Seymour Place, W1H 7NL [map]

PRICE: £12 for 1/4 of a 34cm loaf, with crisps (REALLY good crisps which they make themselves).

BREAD: Big, round, sesame seeded loaf (bit like focaccia).

FILLING: Napoli salami, mortadella, hot capicola, provolone cheese, piquant tapenade sauciness.

PROS: I love the fact that I have to explain to at least 3 other people at the table what a muffuletta is. ‘IT’S A SANDWICH! I’VE GOT A RECIPE FOR IT IN MY BOOK!!’. They look at me with a mixture of thanks and pity. Mostly the latter. It’s a cracking sandwich though. A hollowed out loaf (traditionally a muffuletta), is rammed with layer upon layer of different meats and cheeses, and topped with a sort of zippy tapenade made of olives, capers, pickles, vinegar, herbs and olive oil. Well, that’s what’s in my recipe anyway. This tastes pretty much the same. There’s a lot to be said for layering a shitload of meats and cheeses on top of one another; the overall effect is a big protein squidge that amounts to ultimate sandwich satisfaction.

There’s a story that the sandwich was invented by a wily New Orleans grocer who spotted weary workers balancing various lunch ingredients on their knees. He thought he might be onto something by stuffing the lot rather conveniently into a sandwich and it took off immediately. What’s not to like? It’s a giant stuffed loaf, FFS. Also, I’ve not come across one anywhere else in London, so a bonus point for that.

CONS: I want to just sit in the corner and eat the whole thing to myself. We’re there for dinner though, aware that this is just a bar snack while we wait for others to arrive. We’re staring down the barrel of a meal of fried chicken, shrimp and grits, creamily dressed salads and and and and…is it wrong that I would’ve been happy with another wedge of muffuletta? I have a problem.

SCORE: 8/10

Yeah it was really dark…you get the idea. 

Patty Melt at Dip and Flip, Battersea

17 Nov

LOCATION: Dip and Flip, 87 Battersea Rise, SW11 1HW [map]

PRICE: £5.25

BREAD: Brown and slightly grainy.

FILLING: Ground beef and cheese.

PROS: When I wrote my sandwich book, I had to cut 72 sandwiches, and the patty melt was one of them. This is a shame because it’s a fantastic sandwich, but you know what? I’m relieved. Relieved because I know that I would not have made a version as good as this. This is one seriously juicy number. The amount of beef is just right, meaning you get a finished product which is so easily scarfable it leaves you wanting more rather than feeling like you need a disco nap. What really seals the deal however is the cheese; the recipe was painstakingly developed for the burgers at The Ship, and it’s just perfect, more like a thick cheese sauce; a glue of guilty pleasure that melds the whole sandwich together. Then of course, there’s the gravy for dipping; it’s made with beef and crucially, is not too thick or over reduced so as to challenge the richness of the sandwiches.

The bread threw me a curveball, being brown and slightly grainy. Uh huh. Think about the number of sandwiches where that choice of bread really works. Not many, is it? Kudos. Oh and special mention must go to the pickles, served on the side, but sliced lengthways so as to actually fit in the sandwich. How many burgers or sandwiches have you eaten where the pickle comes in an awkward fat length? WHY? Why do you want me to take a bite of my pickle and and then a bite of my sandwich? Am I not allowed to put it inside? Bog off.

CONS: I had to share half of it with my mate. Mistake.

SCORE: 9/10

Hot Dog at IKEA, Croydon

2 Dec

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LOCATION: IKEA, Valley Park, Croydon, CR0 4UZ [map].

PRICE: 60p.

BREAD: White hot dog bun.

FILLING: Hot dog sausage, ketchup, sweet mustard.

PROS: These hot dogs cost 60p. You can’t buy them in the normal cafe bit of IKEA, only from a counter at the end. They represent salvation at the close of what is, generally, a traumatic experience. I once cried in IKEA.

There’s a bit of snap to the sausage; not a lot, but it’s there. It also boasts an amusing shape; particularly the pinched bit at the end which I couldn’t actually eat because well…use your imagination. The dog is plucked from its water bath and into your flat pack pumelled hands within seconds; then it’s time for you to navigate towards the Maccy D’s style DIY sauce area where you do some kick ass silly self-saucing. I’m still working on writing my name.

CONS: Okay so it’s definitely 100% mystery meat. It has that unmistakable honk. I’m down with that but you might not be. Think about it though…it costs 60p. It hits a spot, albeit the spot is small. I’d like onions but hey…did I mention that it costs 60p? IKEA is stressful and the meatballs are overrated so here’s what you need to do: when you get to the checkout, get someone to grab you a beer from the shop, down it (two if it’s a Saturday), breeze through the payment trauma slightly inebriated, then hoof down a hotdog or like, five. It doesn’t matter, they only cost 60p.

SCORE: 4/10

Buffalo Chicken Sub at Chooks, Muswell Hill

28 Oct

LOCATION: Chooks, 43 The Broadway, Muswell Hill, N10 3HA [map].

PRICE: £8.25.

BREAD: Soft white sub.

FILLING: Buffalo chicken pieces, cabbage and watercress slaw, mega tousle of watercress on top.

PROS: They were certainly generous with the filling, which they damn well should be for £8.25.

CONS: What do you mean that’s not the actual sandwich in the picture? You dissing my food photography skills or what? Shocking. Okay so I couldn’t take a picture of the sandwich because it’s too dark in Chooks. There is an extraordinary amount of red neon strip lighting though. Mmmmm, brothel chic. I have therefore gifted you with a stunningly accurate representation which I created using the magic of Paint. I’m particularly pleased with the watercress. It wasn’t what I actually ordered, by the way. I actually ordered the ‘chooks philly’ but the waitress cocked it up and brought the wrong thing, and not for the first time during the meal.

The buffalo chicken itself was fine, I suppose. It’s quite hard to balls up buffalo sauce to be honest, and although not the best, it was mediocre rather than downright bad. Underneath it however, lurked a truly insipid ‘cabbage and watercress slaw’ which my mate rather eloquently described as tasting like ‘cabbage in milk’. On top was that magnificent tangle of undressed watercress. No, I’ve no idea either. We began by taking a bite and finished by picking out the bits of strangely watery chicken, leaving bun, cabbage and leaves to think about what they’d had done to them.

EIGHT POUNDS AND TWENTY FIVE PENCE.

Chooks is trying hard to be cool in an identikit, ticking off current trends kind of way; cocktails in jam jars; tin cups and plates a la Spuntino; dark interior like Meatliquor; food on trays with paper like Meatliquor; ‘house rules’ posted on the wall like er, Meatliquor; waitresses walking around looking cocky like, you’ve guessed it, Meatliquor. Table sauce in squeezy plastic chef bottles like Pitt Cue. It’s the restaurant equivalent of a fashion victim.

Also, the food is shit.

SCORE: 1/10 

I was invited to review Chooks

Chooks on Urbanspoon

Reuben at Monty’s Deli, Maltby Street

31 Aug

LOCATION: Monty’s Deli, Maltby Street Market, Bermondsey [map].

PRICE: £6

BREAD: Light rye.

FILLING: Pastrami, Swiss cheese, Russian dressing, yellow mustard, sauerkraut.

PROS: As  my sandwich is built I stand, semi-catatonic, mesmerised; pastrami is sliced from wobbly hunks and piled into an ever-growing tower of protein. The Shard, overlooking the market, begins to look small in comparison. I’m offered a piece of the meat to taste as I wait, and….oh – it’s a little dry and chewy. Once pressed in the toaster however, which struggles to clamp its jaws around the beast, the fat melts and everything softens. Some pockets of fat remain intact (though I wish for more), begging to dissolve on the tongue and settle on the hips. The crust of predominantly black pepper and coriander seeds is really pokey; a revelation compared to the crap we usually get served in the UK. Russian dressing and sauerkraut are carefully applied in just the right amounts, too; their flavour and moisture is welcome and yet they do nothing more than big up the meat.

CONS: The pastrami could learn a few tricks from the salt beef, which is gloriously moist and fatty. As I wait for my reuben to toast I am distracted by the request of another customer, ‘one special, please’. One WHAT, sorry? What is this special of which you speak and why am I not having it? I am drawn to a frankly miniscule sign on the counter top. Turns out I could have been eating this reuben with an extra topping of salt beef. I try a piece. It is INCREDIBLE. This is lauded as the best salt beef in London by a man who really knows his salt beef. So, when I think about this sandwich compared to other reubens available in London it could easily have scored 9/10, but I’m knocking a point off for their failure to properly advertise their special.

SCORE: 8/10