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Salt Beef on Challah Roll from Delancey & Co., Goodge Street

2 Apr

img_7398 (1)

LOCATION: Delancey & Co., 34 Goodge St, London, W1T 2QL [map]

PRICE: £10.65

BREAD: Challah roll.

FILLING: A huge amount of salt beef. I went for the ‘bigger beef’. A smaller serving is available at £8.75, although that isn’t actually small, either. Also American mustard, and mixed pickles.

PROS: All the pros. The challah roll is just sweet enough, just sturdy enough, and just about big enough, so it struggles a little to accommodate all that glorious meat. There are rye options, but they do far too good a job of containing everything and I prefer to pick up the spillage with my mustard stained mitts like a feral. Also, it’s tastier and it’s SHINY. Oh and it’s made by a Jewish baker who bakes it only for them. Just get the challah, guys, okay?

Oh, the beef! So soft, with lovely edges of fat. Just like me. They make it themselves. This has to be the best salt beef in London right now. Easily. Sorry Selfridge’s, sorry Monty’s, sorry…actually Beigel Bake isn’t really about the quality of the salt beef, is it? Anyway, sorrys all round. Forget about all others. Eat Delancey dust, etc. etc.

The pickles are excellent, by the way. Did you think they wouldn’t be? Ha, fool!  They make those, of course, and you can get sweet n’ sour, salty or New Green (NYC half sours – seasonal). I get a mixture of sweet n’ sour and salty in my sandwich. Do that. Sometimes I get a slice of Swiss. That’s not really necessary.

CONS: Well, I say ‘cons’ but really I just need something to write here. The menu can be a little overwhelming at first, with so many options for ‘load ups’ but it’s not, once you get started going there every week. What? The smoked salmon is worth a try, too. I like it on a plain bagel with chive cream cheese schmear and seaweed. Bonus picture at the end.

I love Delancey and Co. so much I just did a little spontaneous rap about them. Here it is.

Delancey and Co, I am a ho, for yo,

Can’t spend enough of my dough, getting your beef into my face hole.

Yeah okay maybe not.

SCORE: 10/10

Delancey and co smoked salmon

Holy Burger at Ham Holy Burger, Oxford Street

15 Aug

Ham Holy Burger
LOCATION: 3rd floor, John Lewis, 278-306 Oxford Street, London W1A 1EX [map]

PRICE: £8.95.

BREAD: Un-seeded burger bun.

FILLING: Piedmont beef burger, tomatoes, cucumber, lettuce, red onion, holy sauce.

PROS: Meh, I dunno, sometimes I tie myself in knots with my own format, here. I’m just going to whack it all under the cons, which to be fair, isn’t that far off anyway.

CONS: Ham Holy burger is full of really irritatingly bouncy, cheery staff, presumably because they don’t need to do a great deal. When I arrive, a woman at the door screeches at me “whaddya want?! PIZZA? PASTA? BURGER?” to which I reply “burger! Burger! Burger!” in the manner of someone trying to calm a person who is having a panic attack, and she ushers me towards Ham Holy Burger.

All the food is ordered on an Ipad. What? What’s that? Yes yes, I said everything is ordered on an Ipad. It’s saving staff costs and is more efficient, you see. PAHAHAHAHAHA. Just kidding on the last part. A very young, very enthusiastic Italian man is telling me how to use said Ipad. This takes a while. The obvious thought occurs to me: it would have been much quicker if he could just take my order. “Can I have a glass of Chianti please?!” I blurt out, desperately, confused by the fact I have been sat at this table for a while, talking to a waiter, yet he hasn’t offered me a drink. At this point, he turns his head from the Ipad to face me, bares his teeth in a sort of dazzling, threatening smile, and says ‘”OOOOH!” as if I have just suggested we have a threesome with one of the waitresses. He then stabs at the Ipad and someone else brings the Chianti, which is grim.

The Holy Burger is made from Piedmontese beef, which is criminally under seasoned. Perhaps because I am so discombobulated by the whole experience, I forget my Maldon pinch pot nestled in my handbag, but obviously I shouldn’t need it. Bun = fine. Lettuce = fine. Onions = fine. Tomato = fine. Cucumber = weird. Usually, of course, they’re pickled, but in this case thick slices of plain old cuke bring a sort of odd freshness, like I’m supposed to be eating a lamb pitta with tzatziki. The ‘Holy Sauce’ is rather nice actually, but there isn’t enough of it to bring the richness and pickle flavour that the burger so desperately needs.

As our hearts slowly sink and we contemplate asking (an actual person) if we can have the bill, my mate decides to take revenge. I snap a picture of him on the Ipad which he sets as the wallpaper and home screen, before password protecting the Ipad so they can’t change it back. We walk away, chuckling, and head straight around the corner to MeatLiquor.

SCORE: 3/10

 

 

Afternoon Tea Sandwiches at Claridge’s, Mayfair

8 May

Afternoon Tea Sandwiches Claridge's

LOCATION: Claridge’s, Brook St, Mayfair, W1K 4HR [map]

PRICE: £61 for whole afternoon tea with glass of Laurent-Perrier Brut (£51 without bubbles but seriously, why wouldn’t you?)

BREAD & FILLINGS: Chicken, lemon and tarragon on granary; ham, celeriac remoulade and tomato chutney on onion bread; smoked salmon on brown; egg mayo on white; cucumber on white.

PROS: Claridge’s is like some kind of ultimate pleasure palais; once you’re in, it feels like time could cease to mean anything at all and you’ll emerge three weeks later having spent a million pounds and destroyed all your organs. I like that. The light also has a disorientating green hue to it, as if you’re looking through absinthe goggles.

This afternoon tea has to be the most perfectly executed in London, surely. The room is as grand as they come and looks like it was jointly designed by the Queen and the Mad Hatter. The sandwiches arrive on that distinctive stripy china, and they keep on arriving until you stop asking for more. In my case, that was after the third round. I know. You knew I liked sandwiches though, right?

Tea sandwiches are so appealing because of their dainty size, and the fact they can be consumed in a few bites. It doesn’t feel like you’re stuffing yourself (until the third round) and you never get bored before moving onto the next filling. These are exemplary. The egg mayo is proper nursery food stylee, as it damn well should be; it’s one of the greatest and most comforting fillings of all time and I will not hear otherwise.  The smoked salmon is of first class quality (Severn and Wye), and plentiful. The ham is Dorrington, and comes with celeriac remoulade, which I love, and tomato chutney, which I would usually hate because I hate all chutney. Why has no-one realised that chutney tastes horrible? Weird. They somehow make it work; there’s just background sweetness rather than any taste of – boke – chutney. The chicken is Daylesford organic and therefore has actual chicken flavour, helped along by being at the right temperature; it’s sad that we now so often associate chicken sandwiches with too-cold pappy pre-packs. The cucumber numbers are perfect too, crisp as you like. Such an under-rated filling. Oh, and the best thing about all of them? So bloody British.

I took the cakes home.

CONS: Are you kidding?

SCORE: 10/10

Muffuletta at The Lockhart, Marble Arch

28 Jan

LOCATION: The Lockhart, 22-24 Seymour Place, W1H 7NL [map]

PRICE: £12 for 1/4 of a 34cm loaf, with crisps (REALLY good crisps which they make themselves).

BREAD: Big, round, sesame seeded loaf (bit like focaccia).

FILLING: Napoli salami, mortadella, hot capicola, provolone cheese, piquant tapenade sauciness.

PROS: I love the fact that I have to explain to at least 3 other people at the table what a muffuletta is. ‘IT’S A SANDWICH! I’VE GOT A RECIPE FOR IT IN MY BOOK!!’. They look at me with a mixture of thanks and pity. Mostly the latter. It’s a cracking sandwich though. A hollowed out loaf (traditionally a muffuletta), is rammed with layer upon layer of different meats and cheeses, and topped with a sort of zippy tapenade made of olives, capers, pickles, vinegar, herbs and olive oil. Well, that’s what’s in my recipe anyway. This tastes pretty much the same. There’s a lot to be said for layering a shitload of meats and cheeses on top of one another; the overall effect is a big protein squidge that amounts to ultimate sandwich satisfaction.

There’s a story that the sandwich was invented by a wily New Orleans grocer who spotted weary workers balancing various lunch ingredients on their knees. He thought he might be onto something by stuffing the lot rather conveniently into a sandwich and it took off immediately. What’s not to like? It’s a giant stuffed loaf, FFS. Also, I’ve not come across one anywhere else in London, so a bonus point for that.

CONS: I want to just sit in the corner and eat the whole thing to myself. We’re there for dinner though, aware that this is just a bar snack while we wait for others to arrive. We’re staring down the barrel of a meal of fried chicken, shrimp and grits, creamily dressed salads and and and and…is it wrong that I would’ve been happy with another wedge of muffuletta? I have a problem.

SCORE: 8/10

Yeah it was really dark…you get the idea. 

Lobster Roll at Burger and Lobster, Mayfair

4 Mar

LOCATION: Burger and Lobster, 29 Clarges Street, Mayfair, W1J 7EF [map]

PRICE: £20 including chips and a side salad.

BREAD: Brioche roll.

FILLING: Lobster meat bound with mayo, sprinkled with chives.

PROS: Everything about this sandwich is perfect. It brims with big chunks of tender, sweet lobster meat; the perspective on the photo doesn’t do justice to the generosity of filling. I was worried there might be too much mayo but no, just enough to bind everything together and lubricate. Perfectly judged. As much as I enjoy working over a lobster, there’s a lot to be said for having it all there, ready and waiting to be stuffed in my face. The bread is absolutely incredible too, the butteriest brioche I’ve ever tasted; the texture impossibly light and fluffy within, crisp and toasted on the outside, the butter in the bread leaving it caramelised. Bite after bite of that stunning, rich brioche and that decadent lobster meat, the subtle oniony tingle of chives. Heavenly. I ate half then made sure to finish my chips and salad before polishing off the rest; an experience to be savoured and repeated, often.

CONS: None. The first ever perfect 10 on LROS. I knew as soon as I took the first bite.

SCORE: 10/10

Smoked Eel and Horseradish at Quo Vadis, Soho

3 Feb

LOCATION: Quo Vadis, 26 Dean Street, London, W1D 3LL [map]

PRICE: £6.50

BREAD: Sourdough (I think), toasted

FILLING: Smoked eel and creamed horseradish

PROS: Two little squares of charred sourdough sported just the right amount of bitter char. A peek inside revealed a generous slice of rich, oily, delicately smoked eel, smothered with freshly grated, properly nostril-searing creamed horseradish. Is there a more perfect flavour combination than that pungent horseradish and luscious, creamy-fleshed eel? Not when you’re eating this sandwich there isn’t. The overall richness was countered admirably by a dainty wee pile of pink, lightly picked onions and it took every ounce of my strength not to shove them in the sandwich too, pick the whole thing up and make a right old mess. Quo Vadis is a proper restaurant though, and it’s such a glorious and smart little ‘wich that I didn’t mind eating it with a knife and fork, thus saving my companions the embarrassment of dining with a woman sporting a fishy face mask. The sandwich is small but to be honest, due to the richness I wouldn’t want it any bigger (lies, lies).

CONS: The splendour of the sandwich was offset by a couple of mistakes with the meal. It’s perhaps a little unfair of me to mention it considering this is a review of a sandwich and not the restaurant in general but it left a slightly bad taste in the mouth and so I’m knocking a point off.

SCORE: 9/10

Shrimp Po Boy at The Diner, Soho

22 Jan

LOCATION: The Diner, Soho (18 Ganton Street London, W1F 7BU). Map.

PRICE£6.40? Around the £6 mark anyway (I’ve lost the receipt and it isn’t on their web menu)

BREAD: A soft white sub.

FILLING: Battered, deep fried prawns with a mayo based sauce and shredded lettuce.

PROS: Um. Ummmmmm. Right, so the sauce was okay – piquant yet sweet mayo, with little crunchy bits of onion and ummm, ooh, the sub roll was nice and soft.

CONS: Crikey. Okay so, the prawns. This is a shrimp po boy right, so that means the shrimp/prawns are the  most important ingredient. If the prawns at The Diner did not come from a freezer bag I would be very surprised indeed; they tasted funky, almost ‘high’ with unpleasant fishiness and were coated in the kind of batter one finds surrounding a sweet and sour chicken ball. Po boy prawns should be coated in a cornmeal batter, surely? These tasted of grease and meals at TGI Fridays circa 1995. The sub was nice and soft, as I said, but really, I was clutching at straws.

You may, quite rightly, be wondering what I was thinking ordering a sandwich from a chain restaurant in soho. The reason I did is because I’d heard good things about a limited edition burger they’re soon to launch and the po boy – honestly – did look nice when they posted a picture on Twitter. Also, where else does one get a po boy in London? I was so excited to try this famous Louisiana creation but it seems I may have to make my own version at home, pending my lottery win which will take me on an eating tour of America.

SCORE: 2/10

My po’ boy recipe here.