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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.

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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

Smoked Salmon and Dill Sauce at Opus, Clapham

2 Jul

LOCATION: Opus, 89 Acre Lane, SW2 5TN  [map]

PRICE: £4.20

BREAD: A white muffin.

FILLING: Smoked salmon, cucumber, tomato, dill sauce, rocket.

PROS: Well, dill tastes nice doesn’t it.

CONS: Opus only do toasted sandwiches. Bit annoying on a hot day but whatever. Also, every single sandwich, of which there are about 10, contains tomatoes. Stranger still is the fact that the ingredients list for every sandwich on the menu begins with ‘tomatoes’, like they’re the primary ingredient in any sandwich apart from a tomato sandwich. I stand for a minute or so trying to work out the reason for this but it’s a total dead end so I choose one of the sandwiches instead. There are normal options such as cheese, ham or cheese and ham together. And then, there is smoked salmon with cucumber and dill sauce. Toasted. That sounds like something which should be eaten cold, no? That will be weird, I think to myself. Won’t that just be really weird? So of course I order it.

It arrives in a paper bag with a piece of kitchen paper around it. She knows I’m eating in but perhaps she feels I can’t be trusted with a plate. I remove it from the bag and…MY EYES! The thing is stuffed to the brim with rocket. Shitloads of it. I hate rocket. I hate it primarily because it doesn’t taste very nice and it dominates everything with its gashness but also because it pops up sodding everywhere. Perhaps this offensive leaf invasion was listed on the menu; I wouldn’t know because I was busy thinking about why there were so many tomatoes of primary importance flinging about.

I press on. So the outside is blistering hot, right? Fair enough, that’s called toasting. Everything on the inside is cold though. The salmon particularly so. The contrast is unpleasant. As I make my way through the sandwich, the tomato, which is next to the bread, starts to warm up, taking on a fluffy, mealy texture. I’m frantically pulling out the rocket. Worst of all though is the fact that the salmon is starting to get warm too, but only in places. I do love eating a piece of fish that has both hot and cold patches, it’s not at all unnerving.

The thoroughly pleasant dill sauce has its work cut out trying to make amends for everything else, which is a shame. An ill-conceived sandwich, a baffling approach to menu writing and a waitress who couldn’t crack a smile.

SCORE: 2/10 

Bifana Especial at Cafe Max, Brixton

9 Apr

LOCATION: Cafe Max, 18 Brixton Station Road, SW9 8PD [map]

PRICE: £4.50

BREAD: White bap

FILLING: This Portugese beast is packing fried pork, a fried egg, a slice of processed ham, a slice of Emmenthal style cheese, lettuce and tomato.

PROS: Well, no-one could accuse them of being stingy with the filling. That’s a lorra lorra protein for £4.50. The bap was nice; fresh with a good bit of chew.

CONS: Let’s start with the pork, shall we? It was fine; clearly cheap meat but you know, fine. I think it had been marinated but didn’t have much flavour save for one bite when I found myself dealing with a piece of garlic. It was chewy, too. The egg was okay; they cooked it on both sides, I assume to make it easier to eat. It’s annoying to be presented with a fried egg and yet denied the joy of the oozy yolk though, don’t ya think? The processed protein products on top were um, unexpected. I don’t shy away from a slice of mystery meat and I regularly plunge headlong into the guilty pleasure pool of processed cheese but jeez, what was the point here? The lettuce and tomato underneath was…well it was there. Yes, definitely there. The sandwiches (I subjected a friend to this delightful lunchtime experience also) arrived at the table with mayo and ketchup. I squirted a bit of mayo on mine, mainly because I wanted to do a pattern with the squeezy bottle. Also, I don’t know what that substance is on top of the bun that was clearly left behind by the knife used to cut it, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t in my sandwich.

We were hungry, me and my mate, so we managed about half of our sandwiches. As I looked up at him to declare defeat I noticed he looked pale and concerned, “my pork” he said through a mouthful of four kinds of protein, “it’s raw in the middle”.

SCORE: 1/10


Cheeseburger at The Ship, Wandsworth

14 Mar

LOCATION: Legendary London pub The Ship41 Jews Row, London, SW18 1TB [map]

PRICE: £11.50 with fries.

BREAD: Glazed bun.

FILLING: 100% beef patty, pickled cuke, melted cheese, sliced tomato, shredded iceberg, red onion, French’s mustard, some other good saucy stuff.

PROS: The Ship worked on this burger for quite some time, and it shows. The beef is a mixture of 20% forerib, 60% chuck and 20% added beef fat. Tasty, tasty beef fat. That patty was a perfectly medium rare juice-fest and I made quite the mess of myself with it. Happy as a pig in shit. The cheese is ace; proper melty in a slightly ‘that’s so wrong it’s right’ kind of way, which it turns out, isn’t too far from the truth. The Ship make their own super-melting cheese by a method which I was pleased to learn involves adding more calorific goodness, then processing it in-house. The photo above doesn’t do it justice; it was like a yellow blanket hugging the sides of that patty with the slow yet progressive and unstoppable caress of lava over rock. The pickles were crisp, well balanced and sliced to just the right thickness so as to slot into the sandwich without threatening structural integrity. French’s mustard was present and correct; I just can’t do without its sunny mellow tang in my boiger. There’s some other juicy, saucy mastery at work in this sammy too, although I couldn’t put my finger on it. I didn’t try. I just stuffed it in my face as fast as possible then took a breath, looked up, saw some fries on the side and ate them too. They were great. The Ship is without doubt one of London’s most popular pubs, drawing record breaking crowds as soon as the sun comes out. Just make sure you’re down there with the cool kids, pint in one hand, burger in the other.

CONS: The bun was almost on its last legs as I came to the end of the burger. A minor grumble.

SCORE: 9/10

With thanks to The Ship for the photo above (too busy stuffing my face as per)