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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).

Sushi Sandwiches at Sapporo Ichiban, Catford

26 Sep

Fashion Sandwich

Photo: Ewan Munro on Flickr

LOCATION: Sapporo Ichiban, 13 Catford Broadway, SE6 4SP [map]

PRICE: £5.20 for 4 pieces (triangles, so one sandwich in total I guess)

BREAD: None. It’s rice. PSYCH!

FILLING: Fish! Options are salmon, tuna or prawn with avocado and Japanese mayonnaise. I had salmon.

Yeah, that’s right: sushi sandwiches. Never thought you’d see the day, did you? Me neither tbh. They’re real though, I promise, and they await you in deepest darkest Catford.

I ate these sandwiches with people I now make a magazine with so you can see that they are blessed with innate creative power and universe spinning wonderment. I am absolutely sure that the magazine would’ve failed had we not shared the experience of eating these sandwiches.

It’s not sushi IN a sandwich. Not the rice and fish together, inside bread. Are you sick? This is a sandwich made with the two constituent ingredients and then fashioned into the shape of a sandwich because we all know that if you just make something the shape of a sandwich that qualifies it as such *HEAVY SARCASM*. See the Yorkshire pudding wrap that’s been doing the rounds recently.

But while the Yorkie wrap mildly irritates me, I feel extremely positive about the sushi sandwiches. What kind of person fashions sushi into the shape of a sandwich with a straight face and then goes the extra mile by calling it ‘Fashion Sandwich’ and charging people money for it? Brilliant. They deserve to get rich on the concept and open dedicated sushi sandwich branches, all over town. It will become like Pret, only with better mayonnaise and more laughs. The people behind it will then be given an OBE or whichever one it is for services to gastronomy and Catford will become a place of pilgrimage for coachloads of Japanese tourists, bringing huge wealth to the area but not a level of gentrification that makes people unhappy. Brexit will be reversed, Trump won’t exist and we will all live happily ever after munching on triangular bits of rice and fish. I think you’ll agree.

SCORE: 10/10

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

Double Candy Bacon & Chilli Burgers at Mother Flipper, Brockley

31 Jan

Let’s start with the Double Candy Bacon Flipper:

LOCATION: Brockley Market, Lewisham College Car Park, Lewisham Way, SE4 1UT [map]

PRICE: £6

BREAD: Glazed, slightly sweet, un-seeded.

FILLING: Double beef patty (from Marsh Produce); slappy cheese; lettuce; onion; ketchup; mustard; CANDIED BACON.

PROS: This is exactly the style of burger that floats my boat. Double patty and gooey American-style ‘cheese’ that stays melty right until the end of the burger. American mustard, ketchup, a sprinkle of iceberg for texture (no other lettuce in my burger, thanks), then that all important candied bacon. Did I mention I like candied bacon? It worked really well as a topping, the salty/sweet flavour serving to intensify the dirtiness of the burger experience. A dirty burger experience is a good burger experience, by the way. There was no weird chutney or silly ‘proper’ cheese or other nonsense. They also use the cloche method (briefly covering the finished burger and top part of the bun with a cloche) to get a nice juicy result.

CONS: The patties were over-cooked, well beyond the advertised medium rare (pic here) but then it’s obvious that these guys have yet to find their stride and I’m sure they’ll get up to speed over the next few weeks. I’m not entirely sold on the beef either; it did have fairly good flavour but was by no means the best I’ve tried. I bought some bacon from the same producer and it let out a huge amount of water when cooked, which makes me doubt their quality somewhat. The beef is the most important ingredient! Still, a fine burger experience and, CANDIED BACON!

SCORE: 8/10

And the Chilli Flipper:

LOCATION: Brockley Market, Lewisham College Car Park, Lewisham Way, SE4 1UT [map]

PRICE: £5.50

BREAD: Glazed, slightly sweet, un-seeded.

FILLING: Single beef patty; Swiss (?) cheese; salad leaves; chilli shreds; chilli chutney; micro shoots; mustard; ketchup.

PROS: This burger just wasn’t for me. The bun was nice though and held up well right until the final bite.

CONS: Having eaten the candied bacon burger, I just can’t understand their change of approach here. The chutney doesn’t work because it tastes overwhelmingly of star anise, which has no place – ever – in a burger. In fact, I really wish people would just calm down and step away from the star anise in general. The cheese melted well to begin with but solidified and became unpleasant after a couple of bites. We’ve been through this before. The leaves were all fancy and therefore pointless because they can’t be tasted in a burger and if they could, they wouldn’t work because their bitterness would be unpleasant. Also, MICRO-SHOOTS? I’m not even going there. There was no real discernable chilli heat. My boyfriend and I had planned to swap halfway through but I took one bite and asked him to gimme back my candied bacon double.

SCORE: 4/10

I feel bad for hating the chilli burger because these guys seemed lovely and can genuinely make a great burger. It’s called the Double Candy Bacon Flipper.