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Egg Mayo Bun at WA Café, Ealing

13 Aug

Egg Mayo Bun

LOCATION: WA Cafe, 32 Haven Green, Ealing, Greater London W5 2NX [map]

PRICE: £2.10

BREAD: Wellll, I’ll come back to that.

FILLING: Egg mayo.

PROS: Brace yourselves, guys, because this ain’t no ordinary egg mayo bap. This is, and I’m absolutely not kidding here, egg mayo in a sort of savoury doughnut, which has been coated in cornflakes and deep fried. Yes. Sounds disgusting, right? I know. This can’t possibly be good, I thought to myself; what kind of bonzo brained muppet puts all that savoury dairy inside a sweet bread? What kind of quack-assed twerp is still doing things that stink of the ‘dude-food’ trend, like coating doughnuts in cornflakes? The thing is, it’s brilliant. The Japanese have such a lightness of touch when it comes to frying. The egg mayo is rich with yolks, which makes it much more passable as a filling than if it were all wibbly bits of white hanging out in there. The doughnut-like ‘bun’ is very thin, and not very sweet. It’s also lightly curried. The coating is just so – enough to provide crunch, enough to be playful, enough to raise a smile but not make you feel like you’re chowing down on something conceived of by ten year old boys.

There’s also a curry bun. It’s very good. I’ll be publishing a full review of the place on Londonist, so head over there next week to find out what that’s all about (hint: curry, buns).

CONS: Ealing. EALING. Also, I went twice because the first time, I got there and the buns had run out. I ate a sandwich which I didn’t particularly enjoy, drank a can of cold oolong tea which I did enjoy, and then trudged off again. The buns are available between 12-2pm, I have discovered. The hard way.

SCORE: 9/10

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. 

Classic Falafel Wrap at Mr. Falafel, Shepherd’s Bush

18 Jun

LOCATION: Mr. Falafel, Units T4 – T5, New Shepherd’s Bush Market, Uxbridge Road, W12 8LH [map]

PRICE: £5.00 (for the XL size)

BREAD: Hollyland flatbread

FILLING: Five falafels, hummus, fried aubergine slices, pickled cucumbers, pickled turnips, lettuce, tomato, green chilli sauce, red chilli sauce, tahini sauce, parsley. Phew.

PROS: I am forever chasing the perfect falafel. I thought I’d found it once, unexpectedly, at um, Bestival, in um, some year or other I can’t remember, they blur into one. Festival food in general is rubbish and expensive as I’m sure you know but this falafel wrap…sigh. I probably hadn’t eaten in a while, granted and it was the middle of the night in the middle of a field but it was just so perfect at that point in time, not to mention restorative. Mr. Falafel is also very good, but I fear he does live somewhat in the shadow of Festival Falafel. Unfortunate really because it can’t possibly have been all that.

Anyway, Mr.F is serving really good and proper Palestinian falafel, definitely some of the best I’ve had in London. The place is a little hut, really, right on the end of Shepherd’s Bush Market. There are a few shabby tables and an incredibly lovely, friendly man cooking. I watched as he used his nifty little scooper thing to mould balls of chickpea mix and pop them out into the fryer. Five of those in the XL size wrap, really light (as falafels should be) with lots of flavour from good quality chickpeas. This means they’re not over-spiced to compensate. The hummus is as smooth as Marvin Gaye dressed in silk stroking a baby’s bottom. Eww. Sorry. Mr. Falafel also spoils us with not one kind of pickle but two, cucumber and turnip; as a pickle fiend this pleases me. Also, everything is just so damn FRESH. We just can’t stop banging on about how flippin fresh tasting the whole thing is, me and my mate and believe me, the word fresh can really make a mess if spoken repeatedly through mouthfuls of mashed up chickpea. The tahini sauce is good too, not bullying and cloying as it can be. The fried aubergine slices are obviously a stroke of genius and a generous gesture, I think, considering this is the standard wrap and it’s massive. The liberal use of fresh parsley is a nice touch and something I now consider essential; it really does make the whole thing rather um…rifles through list of adjectives…oh fuck it, fresh.

CONS: I used to live in Shepherd’s Bush and yet I never discovered this place (actually I used to live in West Kensington but I never came to terms with that so I always lied and said I lived in Shepherd’s Bush, partly due to the fact I was terrified I’d end up calling it ‘West Ken’ like a massive tosser). Yesterday it took me an hour and a half to get there from Peckham, although I did discover that the Hammersmith and City line genuinely exists as part of the tube network. All this is not Mr. Falafel’s fault of course, I’m just having a moan. His hot chilli sauce isn’t hot however. I asked for this first but then decided I had to have both hot and mild, yet still picked up barely a prickle. Next time I’ll ask Mr. Falafel (he has a real name I’m sure and I wonder if he is this man) to put one of the pickled chillies that come as garnish inside the wrap. He’d do that, because he’s very nice. I know this from his general demeanour and the fact that he invited me behind the counter so I could more easily take the picture you see above. ‘Wasn’t he nice?’ We kept saying, me and my mate. ‘Wasn’t he a lovely nice friendly man?’ It took him a good, what, 7 minutes or so to make the sandwich, what with it being all so erm, fresh and all, and in that 7 minutes he really made an impression on us. He just had the air of someone who is a genuinely happy person and it made the whole experience even more enjoyable. He wished us a good day and he meant it. Awesome guy,  kick ass falafel.

SCORE: 8/10