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Bacon Sandwich at Coal Rooms, Peckham

13 Oct

Coal Rooms Bacon Sandwich

LOCATION: Coal Rooms, 11a Station Way, SE15 4RX (it’s attached to Peckham Rye Station, in the old waiting room) [map]

PRICE: £5? I always think ‘I’ll look online’ and then the price is never online.

BREAD: We’ll get to this.

FILLING: Bacon, dumbass.

PROS: You’ve got to admire their enthusiasm at Coal Rooms; they’re doing a lot themselves, including making this bacon. You also get to choose which bit you’d like them to slice so you can have more or less fat, depending on your preference. I went for half and half because answering the question: ‘how much bacon fat do you want?’ was seemingly impossible at 9am on a Tuesday.

About that. We weren’t sure we’d actually be able to eat the bacon sandwiches as when I asked after them I was told they’re available from 9am, ‘if the chefs turn up at 9’ which put me in a bit of a tricky position because we were having a Pit magazine meeting and had based the entire thing around the availability of the sandwiches because that’s the way we (bacon) roll.

I’m not being a dick about this by the way; I understand that being a chef is hard graft and means late nights and I don’t really give a shit if you get in at half nine or 8.45 but I’m mentioning it because you lot need to know that the sandwiches are kind of available from 9am. Don’t hold this against them because you’ll piss me off.

So the bacon was lovely; thick cut and full of flavour from the coffee cure (they use coffee grounds because this place is from the people behind Spike and Earl Roastery and that’s their thing). It wasn’t at all crisped up like bacon though, so it was basically like eating a nice ham sandwich. You get a choice of sauce but I chose brown because that is the correct option. As I said to a mate the other day: ketchup is for chips and children.

CONS: The bread is fully weird. I don’t know what they’re trying to do here but the only way I can describe it is like a sort of split, slightly sweet, overly-bready doughnut. It was pretty solid, rather dry and overall not a pleasant thing to eat. I’m sorry, Coal Rooms; I really am on your side and I think you can be brilliant but for the love of hog you gotta change that bread.

SCORE: 7/10 (extra point because the toilets are cool).

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Ham and Taleggio Baguette at Birley’s, Old Broad Street

22 Jun

This is a guest post from a guy called Jerry. I don’t know him or anything. We’ve never met. He’s done reviews on here before though so I let him carry on because let’s face it, someone has to.

LOCATION: Birley’s, 89-91 Old Broad Street, EC2M 1JJ [map]

PRICE: £4.75

BREAD: Ficelle baguette, lightly buttered I should say.

FILLING: Ham, taleggio, rocket, sun blushed tomatoes, pesto.

There’s always something slightly intimidating about going to an unknown sandwich shop in a busy lunchtime. You’ve no idea what the queuing protocol is, where and when to pay, the extent to which sandwiches can be made to order, etc. In your mind, everyone that’s in there is a lunchtime regular, on first-name terms with the staff, can spontaneously launch into footie banter, and will judge you with sneering contempt as you fumblingly ask for extra sweetcorn in the tuna and sweetcorn then spill your coppers all over the floor like some sort of spotty French exchange student loser.

If these sorts of anxieties eat you up at night then you will be fucking terrified by Birley’s. Its largest outlet is smack bang in the middle of the city between Moorgate and Liverpool Street and seems to be occupied at all times of the day by tight packs of guffawing, coiffured, pin-striped city types called Oliver bulk buying club sandwiches for their entire trading floor. On top of that there is a long queue on the right which the rookie will happily join, despite it leading only to the soup/salad bar, and for sandwiches you have to barge your way through to the long counter where it is, to all intents and purposes, every man, woman and child to themselves, with a separate ticketing and payment system.

But behind the counter, dear reader, is sandwich heaven. Each menu item looks like they have been crafted by 30 years of customer feedback to produce the deliciousness that now awaits. Today’s choice was the Ham and Taleggio, which you might think would contain just those two punchy ingredients, but no. There are the pesto and rocket offering a peppery counterpoint to the salty kick of the Taleggio, and, in the next bite, you are surprised by the juiciness and texture of the sun-blushed tomatoes.

The bread itself is ficelle, which is lighter of texture than it looks, and full of air pockets, emphasising the savoury kick of the cheese even more. With each taste, a different combination of taste buds are stimulated, and I may have been stimulated elsewhere as well. It was an absolute triumph of a sandwich, best I’ve had all year.

SCORE: 9.6/10

Ham and Piccalilli on Wholemeal at The Delicatessen, Clapham Common

18 Jun

Ham and piccalilli at The Delicatessen
LOCATION: The Delicatessen, 5 The Pavement, London, Clapham SW4 0HY [map]

PRICE: £5, I think.

BREAD: Floury brown roll.

FILLING: Ham, piccalilli, watercress.

PROS: This is from The Delicatessen, which in case you’re not some food-obsessed, in-the-know, restaurant-slave, wobbly-thighed tit like me and everyone I hang around with, is the deli opened by a restaurant called The Dairy. It’s a really brilliant restaurant that makes us all go weak at the knees before we start drooling and making ga ga goo goo goo noises. The Delicatessen is just next door, and they have the seating areas joined up, so you can eat this sandwich while watching someone put away a tasting menu. Also, there’s the street life, and, as much as I will never, ever be Clapham’s biggest fan (although I feel I am slowly moving past the BUILD A WALL AROUND IT stage), it has to be said that the street life is excellent. Many an hour can be idled away slagging off and shamelessly categorising the people that walk past. I hadn’t previously noticed either, just how many people in Clapham have had bad plastic surgery. Staggering.

Anyway. The sandwich was very good and it includes their piccalilli which is really well balanced and crucially, has great crunch. We all know that the secret to a top notch piccalilli is keeping those vegetables crisp. Nothing worse than realising you’ve got a limp batch. Don’t quote me on that. The ham is of staggeringly good quality, obviously, and they leave all the lovely creamy fatty bits on which I used to hate when I was a child but now I’m a fully fledged fat munching adult who eats good quality meat I say, bring it on. The roll was good – kudos for making it wholemeal, nice bit of chew, not too thick but…

CONS:…VERY floury – as floury as an Irish blaa. I like blaas, but goddamn they’re floury. I think if I were to have this sandwich again, I’d want a bit more moisture in there, you know? The piccalilli doesn’t have quite enough juice to lube the sandwich. Also, how is one supposed to pick up a floury bap then go back to Instagramming one’s sandwich like a social media enslaved twat if one has digits covered in flour? Life in Clapham is HARD.

SCORE: 7/10. I mean there’s only so many points I can give to a ham bap, even if I do worship the ground they walk on.

Croque Monsieur at Le Peche Mignon, Islington

14 Mar

LOCATION: 6 Ronalds Road, Islington, N5 1XH [map].

PRICE: £5.50.

BREAD: White sourdough.

FILLING: Ham and cheese, bechamel on top.

PROS: The state of croques in the world is dire. In London it’s bad but in Paris? Even worse. Seriously. It’s depressing. This presented me with a dilemma then, about the criteria against which to judge this sandwich. Should it be judged relative to all croques in London that I know about? Or all other croques in the world, including theoretical not in actual existence yet croques? I decided upon the latter. The opinions expressed on this blog are based upon nothing if not whim, fancy and my highly variable mood, as ever.

This was one of the best croques I’ve ever had in London actually, which isn’t saying much (check out this abomination) but then it’s very surprising considering what happened when I arrived at Le Peche Mignon. I’d gone halfway up the ginger line to eat this bastard, and so when I spotted a pile of pre-made croques upon entering the cafe well, you can imagine, my little heart sank into my biker boots. I wasn’t leaving without trying it though, considering the effort of sitting on the tube for a whole 20 minutes. ‘What actually happens to cheese if you melt it twice?’ we pondered. Turns out, not a lot apart from melting, again. With reflection, I think the inside had only been melted the once, and it was just the sauce on top that had been pre-applied. Okay so it was a little crusty in places, but the sandwich in general was soft, the bread really decent, the ham perfectly good and the side salad of a little lettuce with a mustard heavy dressing, exactly as it bloody well should be. Few people seem to adequately understand that last element; there should be just a few leaves of soft, inoffensively flavoured lettuce (i.e. no sodding rocket) and a bitey dressing. No more, no less. Very well judged, Le Peche.

CONS: Okay so there’s no ignoring the fact that this was pre-made. Why won’t someone open a croque cafe? And no I don’t mean one where they start tinkering about with weird additions and combinations; I mean one that just does perfect croques, with maybe a madame and one option for the crazies. WHY?! Someone should just get the hell on with that.

So this isn’t a croque I’d ever travel to, say, North London for, but it’s certainly one I’d eat again if I lived nearby, particularly if I was hungover and had a pot of mustard in my bag which, incidentally, I often do.

SCORE: 6.5/10 (extra half point for getting the side leafage right)