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Tuna Panuozzo at Theo’s, Camberwell

20 Oct

panuozzo

LOCATION: Theo’s Pizzeria, 2 Grove Lane, SE5 8SY [map]

PRICE: £5

BREAD: Lovely sourdough pizza base.

FILLING: Tuna, mozzarella, chilli, black olives, sliced onion.

PROS: I can’t believe I’m actually writing this, because for years I have upheld the belief that the tuna melt is basically the most disgusting sandwich of all time. I mean, tuna with cheese, FFS. Fish with CHEESE. Fishy cheese. Chishy feeze. Can you think of any other dish where that’s a thing? I can’t. Fish pie, maybe, if you’re the kind of idiot who puts cheese on a fish pie, in which case your opinions aren’t valid anyway. No, it doesn’t work, it shouldn’t be done and yet, here we are.

The reason Theo’s gets away with this, I think, is the quality of the ingredients. They use Ortiz, which, in case you don’t know, is basically really good tinned tuna. Not that grey mushy shite you get from Prince’s that looks like it was scraped out of the tumble dryer lint collector. No students, anywhere, are mixing this with mayonnaise and putting it on their jacket potatoes. So there’s that. Then there is the mozzarella which I know is Bianca la Bufala flown in from Naples because I asked about it when I wrote this review of their pizzas. Again, brilliant. There is sliced onion and chilli to give it some bite and there are shiny black olives. I don’t know anything about the olives except that they’re very good and I’m sad when they’re all gone. They’re glossy and plump and they slip around and out of the sandwich and you pick one up and eat it and feel happy.

It’s just a really classy sandwich, is what I’m saying. Tuna and sodding cheese.

CONS: Head fuck.

SCORE: 9/10

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Lamb Wrap at F M Mangal, Camberwell

30 Aug

Adana Wrap

LOCATION: 54 Camberwell Church St, London SE5 8QZ [map].

PRICE: £6.00 – £7.50.

BREAD: A very large, thin flatbread, the like of which I have not seen elsewhere.

FILLING: Lamb, salad (carrot, onion, lettuce, peppers), garlic yoghurt sauce, chilli sauce.

PROS & CONS: F M Mangal is very close to my house and I have long since stopped eating in. I’ve discovered the way to do things properly, which is to order the wraps, embellish with a Turkish salad and flamingo tarama (if going all out) and then just get on with life. Straying into the wider menu is for idiots and the uninitiated. You’ll notice that I have titled this post ‘lamb wrap’ as I couldn’t decide between the lamb shish and the adana. We often order both, then halve them and share. The lamb shish should be eaten first, while the chunks of lamb are springy and hot from the grill; they bounce between the teeth, just cooked in the centre, smoke infused. They’re as juicy as a tense plum, and the not-quite-bloody flavours and fats combine inside with the thin garlic yoghurt, chilli sauce and salad. This is why you get the wrap; this magical cauldron of tasty will not bubble if things are presented just so on a plate.

The adana, conversely, is better when slightly cooled; at least, it can take it, unlike the lamb shish, which has a tendency to taste livery if not still jumping from the heat. These lengthy pucks of minced meat and spice ooze fat and glory. My one complaint is that they do turn up the odd nugget of gristle but this adds to the spit, smoke and flame-licked animal appeal of it all. The key to making a good adana that stays on the skewer lies in the kneading of the meat mixture beforehand, which increases the density of the kebab and stops it flopping off into the coals. This is a good, solid but juicy example that they bash out consistently like a sewing machine hammers fabric. Confident and relentless.

SCORE: 9/10

Chicken Satay Banh Mi at Viet Cafe, Camberwell

23 Jan

LOCATION: Viet Cafe (formerly Cafe Bay), 75 Denmark Hill,  SE5 8RS [map]

PRICE: Ummm about £2.70 ish I think. Or £3.10? I’m just plucking numbers out of the air here. It’s cheap, basically.

BREAD: Baguette.

FILLING: A skewer of chicken flavoured with a mild satay, cucumber strips, pickled daikon and carrot, coriander, sweet chilli sauce, fresh chilli.

PROS: Camberwell is basically a sandwich wasteland so Viet Cafe must be making an absolute killing. This is by no means the best banh mi in the world but it stands out a mile in an area packing only a Subway (what IS that smell that comes from Subway?) and  numerous crappy cafes. Yes I enjoyed Rock Steady Eddie’s recently but seriously, there’s a time and a place, sickos!

I’m constantly amazed that the chicken satay banh mi is so much better than all the pork banh mi and, especially and, it’s better than the banh mi special which contains all the types of pork at once. ME CONFUSE. Anyway, it’s the best so I never order anything else. It’s also good and punchy, just the way a banh mi should be. I like the sweet chilli sauce filth factor, which they then ramp up with bits of fresh chilli so by the end I’ve really worked up a proper sniffle. Banh mi never have enough chilli in general, I find, so mad props to Viet Cafe in that respect.

CONS: Well you know, it’s not anything particularly ground breaking; you’re not going to find rice flour baguettes. I kind of wish they would stop arseing about with all the tuna mayo/cheese salad/chicken and sweetcorn rubbish though and just live up to the name of Viet Cafe – shake up that hood a little. I think Camberwell may just, just about be ready…

SCORE: 7/10 (relative to everything else in the area)

Bacon and Egg Roll at Rock Steady Eddie’s, Camberwell

6 Dec

LOCATION: Rock Steady Eddie’s, 2A Coldharbour Lane, Camberwell, SE5 9PR [map]

PRICE: About £1.60 I think. Well cheap, anyway.

BREAD: White roll.

FILLING: A fried egg, bacon, marg and brown sauce (the latter added by me).

PROS: Never is the pull of the greasy spoon more keenly felt than when one suffers from the excesses of the night before. That’s pretty much every day then, H, I hear you say? Well, yes okay then you cheeky sod, I am fond of the odd tipple. I am also fond of the caff in the way that I am fond of a proper old school boozer. From the latter I want names carved into glasses, plenty of dodgy taxidermy and every kind of snack made by the people who make Scampi Fries (with the exception of cheesy melting moments which are RANK). From the former I want formica topped tables, booth style seating and glass dispensers which leave your hungover brain pondering whether you’re pouring sugar or salt in your cup of charlie.

We order two bacon and egg rolls with a certain amount of trepidation. The first thing I notice is that the bun looks surprisingly good and bloody hell, IS IT?! Really fresh, perfect crust on top, a very decent chew which is just SO perfect for a breakfast bap; it will contain any amount of eggy oozage and brown sauceage. The amount of bacon is generous; 3 rashers for such a basic bap? I’m impressed. There’s also a bit of crispness to the fat which, in my experience, puts this towards the higher end of the greasy spoon quality scale where flabby bacon is the norm. The egg, although cooked in one of those funny ring things and flipped for neatness and ease of consumption, miraculously retains some ooze. This could be luck but I’m not complaining.

CONS: There is marg. Such a shame. Butter, people! BUTTER! Even cheapo shitty butter is better than marg. Even a poke in the eye is better than marg. Also there is the egg issue; I think I got lucky with the ooze to be honest, as the example across the table didn’t turn out so well. Didn’t stop me saying ‘HA HA HA, UNLUCKY!’ though, before gleefully smearing my roll around in the golden eggy drips on my plate. The egg could use work, let’s face it. Also, the whole place does appear to be covered in a thick layer of erm, character. I mean, I know it’s a greasy spoon  but I was a little reticent about squeezing the brown sauce from the bottle, for fear of what might come with it. It amused us greatly, then, that a sign on the wall addressed a problem with the unhygienic practices of the clientele; I’ve included a picture for your amusement below. The fact that this escalated to such problematic levels that they felt the need to write a sign is baffling/hilarious/gobsmacking/awesome. I know not where to start with the grammar/punctuation/slashes through the letter O like zeros. Rock Steady Eddie’s, I very much enjoyed your, as you put it, “cafe”.

SCORE: 5/10

Yorkshire Ham Salad, King’s College Hospital, Denmark Hill

31 Oct

LOCATION: King’s College Hospital, Denmark Hill, SE5 9RS [map]

PRICE: Er, £2.50 ish? (doesn’t matter, you won’t want to eat it).

BREAD: Malted wheat grain.

FILLING: Yorkshire ham, tomato, mixed leaves, parsley mayonnaise.

PROS: Quite cheap, innit.

CONS: Deep to the mother f***ing breath. Okay so I work very near to this canteen and sometimes, I find myself in a pickle when it comes to lunch. I find myself desperate. I find myself caving to the convenience of these pre-packaged horrors and you know what? I’ve had enough. It’s time to let rip on these muthas. 

Believe it or not, the ‘Yorkshire ham salad’ is one of the best; hell, I may subject you to the full spectrum of fillings in the future, just to get some closure. To be honest, it doesn’t really matter which sandwich I buy because somehow, via some kind of black magic, the makers of these sandwiches (‘Origin Foods’), manage to extract every single last bit of flavour from every ingredient they ever use. All the sandwiches taste of precisely nothing (note the hot sauce, salt and pepper); after that, it’s all down to texture and boy, do I have something to say about that…

The bread is soggy, because I’ve made the mistake of buying a pre-packaged sandwich which contains tomato. Everyone knows this is a mistake. The corners have turned to mush and need to be picked off and discarded; I’m not sure there’s anything more unpleasant IN THE WORLD. The ham, although not the worst I’ve ever encountered, is obviously cheap and watery. The tomato is in there, which makes it wrong wrong wrong. The mixed leaves look like something that got washed up at the side of The Thames. The mayo is starting to congeal at the edges, which brings me nicely to my next point…

The sandwiches are always, without question, within 1 day of being out of date. One could argue this means they’re keeping stock fresh but as we’ve seen, that’s clearly not the case. I’ve even seen one dated a day previously. This is a hospital.

GET WELL SOON, PEOPLE!

SCORE: 1/10

Cheeseburger at The Crooked Well, Camberwell

25 Jan

LOCATION: The Crooked Well, 16 Grove Lane, London SE5 8SY [map]

PRICE: £8.75 with side salad garnish and small pot of chips.

BREAD: Glazed, unseeded, slightly sweet bun.

FILLING: Donald Russell beef patty, cheddar cheese (I think), lettuce, tomato and a sort of tomato relish thing (I asked for ketchup on the side).

PROS: The beef had excellent flavour and the patty was a generous size. Bonus points for it coming medium rare as standard. The crisp pickles were nice too, with a good sweet/sharp balance, erring on the side of sweet.

CONS: The bun was a bit stale, had taken on an unpleasant woolly texture and collapsed before I’d finished the burger – the cardinal burger bun sin. The meat was cooked medium rare but not very evenly so, as you can see from the picture. I found the scant smear of tomato relish on top superfluous and the cheese, for me, was wrong; I don’t want to be a Burger Bore but the fact is, I like cheap American cheese in my burger. Perhaps it’s hard for a chef to even consider using processed cheese? I would say to him/her that the best burgers in London are made using slappy yellow slices – at Meat Liquor or Lucky Chip, for example. The ‘cheese’ should be gooey and taste faintly of guilt; a proper cheese like cheddar is too strong – it jars with the flavour of the beef.

I’m sad I didn’t like this burger because Camberwell is just crying out for more decent lunches. For me though, the thinking behind this burger, with its fantastic beef but sad bun and toppings was just a bit, well, crooked.

SCORE: 4/10