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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

Pork Roll Bánh Mì at Aobaba, Elephant and Castle

3 Jan

Banh Mi at Aobaba

LOCATION: Aobaba,128-132 Walworth Road, London SE17 1JL [map]

PRICE: £3.50? £4? I really need to get better at this.

BREAD: Baguette (I think rice flour).

FILLING: Pork roll, pate, pickled carrot and daikon, coriander, chilli, cucumber, mayonnaise. SUPPOSEDLY.

PROS: I struggle here, I really do. Um…it was a rice flour baguette as far as I could tell, which may please the authenticity sticklers amongst you.

CONS: This is easily the worst bánh mì I’ve ever eaten. None of the baguettes are advertised on the menu as containing pork roll, which is probably how I ended up ordering it. It’s probably called something else, I don’t know. What I can say, is that I don’t like the stuff; it often comes with a rind on the outside which is impossible to eat and sure enough, there it is – an orange rim so disgusting and chewy it was like the arse end of a stripper’s thong after a fresh fake tan. The pate was present only as a skid mark.

Pickled carrot and daikon however – definitely present. A great whacking tangle of the stuff, with all the flavour and charm of a half-unravelled rubber band ball. I mined down to find cucumber underneath. Fine. But what of the chilli? The coriander? Both essential. I sigh, take a swig of my Saigon beer and make my way back across the vast, soulless, plastic bamboo-skirted floor to the counter where…I have an argument with the server. He insists he put chilli and coriander in my banh mi. I tell him that he didn’t. He tells me he did. I show him the sandwich and give him an evil. He reluctantly slaps some chilli and coriander on top. I take the sandwich and sit down. The sandwich looks better for some colour, but tastes of nothing. The pork roll, apart from knicker rind, is mostly flabby fat. I’m a huge fan of fat – the size of my arse is testament to the fact – but even I don’t want JUST fat. Well, not unless it’s lardo on toast. Or the finest milky Iberico fat. Or the underneath of a pork scratching. Look, you get the idea. Quality fat is full of flavour. I expect my thighs would be delicious.

I know that this place is popular with students in the area (it is practically, if not actually, underneath student halls) and you know what, if I were one of them I’d probably take my hangover along for a noodle soup, squirted with obscene amounts of Sriracha. I’d be happy with the price and the convenience of it. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised to see young ‘uns scoffing in their pyjamas having wobbled downstairs after a night on the sauce. I certainly can’t think of a reason why anyone else would eat there.

SCORE: 1/10

 

 

Egg Mayo Bap at Sandwich Box, Borough

21 Feb

LOCATION: Sandwich Box, 9 Newington Causeway, SE1 6UD [map]

PRICE: £2.45

BREAD: White bap

FILLING: Egg mayo

PROS: One of the best things about writing a blog like this is that I find myself wandering into sandwich shops I would never have otherwise bothered with. Sandwich Box is a properly old school outfit, the kind you’d look at and think ‘huh’ and possibly ‘aww’ in a nod to its being so fabulously preserved in time, that time being about 15 years ago.

There are certain sandwiches that this kind of shop does extremely well however; the kind of  fillings people that are total dicks would term ‘retro’; fillings that more modern places attempt to pimp and embellish, thus ruining them. Some sandwiches have a nursery school appeal and should not be messed about with. Egg mayonnaise is one of them.

The bap (‘d’ya wanna sammich or a bap, luv?’) was really fresh with excellent chew; for some reason this type of bap seems to be a feature of the old school places. See Ed’s Diner in Camberwell. It’s so enjoyable. I’m bored of tooth testing ciabatta and too thick cut five seeded pumpernickel rye. Gimme a nice big white BAP. I like the way she took a hard-boiled egg and made the egg mayo there and then, rather than having it ready mixed in one of those metal trays where it forms a thick yellow crust on the top. Mmmm.

I really enjoyed eating in Sandwich Box; I enjoyed the sandwich, the price; the shitty tea that tasted like it came from an urn (it reminded me of a time doing voluntary work in a drop in centre many moons ago). I enjoyed Spandau Ballet on the radio (‘I Know This Much is True‘) and the mirror that fittingly read ‘nostalgia’.

CONS: Wellll, one must choose carefully in these places; like I said, this is about memory lane. It’s about craving an old time favourite that’s not been messed about with. No capers, no chives, no salad, no nothing but egg and mayo. I’d steer clear of anything more ambitious. The service is, well, what you’d expect from an old school caff in Borough. No nonsense. I said a cheery ‘bye!’ as I walked out the door and got a noise that sounded like ‘mm’ in reply.

There was nothing to particularly rile me; we must see this place for exactly what it is – a surviving sandwich bar hanging on in there, despite being just down the road from a Starbucks and a Pret.

SCORE: 7/10

Ham, Cheese & Salt & Vinegar Crisps at Dish and Spoon, Nunhead

2 Nov

LOCATION: The Dish and The Spoon, 61 Cheltenham Road, Nunhead, SE15 3AF [map]

PRICE: £4.50

BREAD: Soft white.

FILLING: Hafod Welsh Cheddar, ham, salt and vinegar crisps, butter, tomato chutney.

PROS: So in the morning I whinge on Twitter that I have an unholy craving for a ham, cheese and crisp sandwich. The next thing I know, Dish & Spoon tweet that they will deliver one, to my office. How. Cool. Is. That? Top marks for coolness and spontaneity.

The sandwich arrives 20 minutes later and is packing plenty of thick cut proper ham that’s really meaning business, some frankly outstanding Hafod cheddar that has those crunchy little crystals which I think are collections of the amino acid tyrosine, and a sign of good maturation? Cheese expertise welcome at this point. It’s very good anyway; all those big fat wadges of it. Tomato chutney arrived on the side, just in case I wanted it, and I did.

Salt and vinegar crisps are my sandwich crisp of choice, closely followed by cheese and onion. What made me very, VERY happy about this sandiwch however, other than the fact it was delivered into my hands, was that they had left the ‘press down’ for me to do myself; you know, when you press the top slice of bread down and all the crisps crunch together.  Surely half the pleasure of eating a crisp sandwich.

CONS: The bread was a little too thick for my taste, but no big deal. Also, I would’ve added mustard – wholegrain probably, plus a little spread of mayo, rather than the chutney.

SCORE: 8/10 plus MAD PROPS for bringing it to my office. 

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

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 

Madras Chicken at Blackbird Bakery, East Dulwich

15 Feb

LOCATION: Blackbird Bakery, 46 Grove Vale, East Dulwich, SE22 8DH [map]

PRICE: £3.50

BREAD: A good quality white (baked by Blackbird).

FILLING: Chicken mixed with madras curry mayo, lettuce, sliced tomato and finely diced red onion.

PROS: This is basically coronation chicken in disguise but my goodness, it’s delicious. The large, juicy chunks of chicken are plentiful, bound in a borderline indecent amount of curried mayo. Although this is made with a curry powder blend, it miraculously  swerves any danger of tasting like something one might find chilling in a motorway service station and instead plants itself firmly in the camp of luxurious; silky soft and dreamy. The sweet little nubs of red onion are the perfect garnish too, adding just the right amount of allium bite. For £3.50, it’s extremely good value, because this sandwich is an absolute giant. At the halfway point I almost considered saving the other half for later. I didn’t, of course. Blackbird are trying to revive a British classic and are doing so with style and taste.

CONS: The insipid tomato needs to go. Also, the second time I bought it there was no red onion, which upset me a lot; I’ll mention it next time I go in. Speaking of return visits, I almost didn’t make one after a particularly irritating morning about 6 months ago when I popped in to pick up a sandwich on my way to work. I asked if there were any sandwiches available and the lady there told me that no, they don’t make them until 10am. “Oh, you don’t have the ingredients yet?” I asked her. “Oh yes, we just don’t make them yet” she replied. That’s fine, but I took a quick look around, and considered the fact that there was only one other person in the cafe and two members of staff. I then asked very nicely if they’d mind putting one together, a request which was met with a flat ‘no’ delivered in what was, frankly, a truly arsey tone. Is it really too much trouble to make a sandwich when you’re not doing anything else and I’m a regular customer? Really? Hacked me off for months, that did.

Anyway, the sandwiches are good so I return. Sigh.

SCORE: 7/10