A (Long Overdue) London Sandwich Post

You know by now I have a  ‘healthy’ (bordering on obsessive) appreciation for sandwiches. I find it so satisfying to sink my teeth into a slice of crusty, fresh bread which yields to layer on layer of textures and flavours; it is a perfect self contained meal. Earlier this year I began to blog about sandwiches I’ve found around London but for some reason this slipped and I’ve now got a backlog. Here’s a little round-up, just to get us back on track.

First up, a London classic: the chorizo roll from the Brindisa grill at Borough Market. A ciabatta roll is stuffed with either a single or double portion of Alejandro Barbacoa chorizo (obviously I had the double) plus roasted Navarrico piquillo peppers and a good handful of rocket (£4.50 ish?) A drizzle of olive oil is all it needs in the way of lubrication as all the beautiful spicy fat from the sausage seeps into the bread, coating everything with its smoky, paprika flavour. This sandwich is intense and addictive, which is why the queue more often than not snakes right back into the market. The picture below represents a rare moment of quiet at the grill; when they are moving at full pace it is quite a spectacle of sizzle and smoke.

Next, a sandwich from my favourite local bakery, Luca’s. This is not one of their greatest creations unfortunately and would have been more enjoyable toasted. I mean, look at the size of that bread! Tim Hayward would hate this sandwich. The filling of brie and pesto was, as ever, fresh and high quality; the brie was ripe and pongy and the pesto tasted home made (it cost around £3).  Despite some ongoing problems with slow service, the staff are charming and endearingly ditsy and the baked goods are a cut above the norm. They also do cheese and charcuterie plates, an absolutely triumphant rye bread, preserves, biscuits and cakes.

There are a couple of irritating things about Luca’s though – one being the fact that their coffee is a bit watery (according to trusted sources) and the other that, as with most places in East Dulwich, you have to have a high tolerance for the presence of small children; this means lots of noise, mess and rows of increasingly alien looking pushchairs. I am practically immune to this now. If you can’t bear the thought however, I’ve recently heard from the charming Rosie Lovell that her deli (Rosie’s Cafe Deli in Brixton) will soon be stocking Luca’s bread and they will also be selling their goods at Brixton Farmers’ Market in the near future.

Next, another Borough Market offering: the salt beef from Roast to Go, which is one of those places I’ve always meant to visit but never felt particularly inspired by. To be honest, this wasn’t a particularly remarkable example of the classic. To me, thick hunks of meltingly tender brisket should be bursting out of the bread; this was just a bit rubbery and meagre in size and the miserly stripe of mustard down the middle wasn’t enough to invoke even a mild case of ‘mustard nose’. Pickles were present and correct but it pales in comparison to a classic salt beef from Bagel Bake on Brick Lane, which costs around £3 I think in comparison to Roast’s version for a fiver. The bread was sweet and soft though, almost bagel-like in chewyness. I think they could be onto something there…

Finally, a sanger from an Italian deli and restaurant called Tentazioni that Chris discovered down in Shad Thames. The deli seemed well stocked although I do have to question their choice of location. Are they really going to drum up enough business tucked down one of those dark side streets otherwise filled with estate agents and over-priced, under-sized apartments? It’s a shame really because the lady inside was very charming and keen to help, even if she did work at the most incredibly slow pace. As the place is not geared mainly towards making sandwiches, it was a bit difficult to see what was on offer and a language barrier issue meant we just had to point at a few things and hope for the best. We got some fennel and pepper salami and parmesan with cracked black pepper and salad. The ingredients inside were delicious but the sandwich on the whole, a little dry and bready.

That said, the place is definitely worth checking out. I spied some gorgeous looking (if ridiculously expensive) smoked mozzarella along with Sicilian fennel sausages, pastries, a range of Italian cheeses and meats and also dried products like good quality pulses. You can see more pictures in my Flickr sandwich set here.

So there we have it, a few sandwiches to digest while I search out the next victim. Londoners, I call out for your assistance in directing me to the best sandwiches in the city. Share your favourites please!

FYI: Jonathan also writes a great series on sandwiches in London: ‘The Sandwichist

Category: Sandwiches, Sandwiches and The City | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , 24 comments »

24 Responses to “A (Long Overdue) London Sandwich Post”

  1. youngandfoodish

    Every time I’ve tried the rubbery salt beef at Beigel Bake, which is too often, I’ve felt as though I were participating in a session of chew aerobics.

  2. Lizzie

    I know it’s a mini chain, but I really do love the foccacia sandwiches at Make Mine. Also my all time favourite hangover cure is a toasted cheese and ham – any ol’ sandwich shop will do.

  3. Helen @ World Foodie Guide

    The chorizo roll looks like something I could sink my teeth into! The best ‘sandwich’ I’ve had in the last year has been a fresh piadina in Marina di Ravenna, Italy, which was filled with a grilled meat & fresh herb patty and fresh rocket. It was heavenly! Here’s the husband’s one filled with squacquerone cheese – http://tinyurl.com/ydu6qe6

  4. Chris

    Great post – love reading about sandwiches and agree with all of this. I know the Borough Market chorizo roll is a cliché and a tourist trap but it’s still a lovely assembly of ingredients. And that salt beef baguette (why baguette???) has an incredibly stingy amount of meat in it. Contrast with the Brick Lane Beigel – they stuff so much meat into it you need the bag to catch the overflow. And it’s ludicrously cheap.

  5. Ollie

    That one from Tentazioni looks fantastic. I must say I’ve always found the Brindisa chorizo sarnie a touch overrated: its fame depends a lot on its unbeatable location. Lovely post.

  6. Patrick

    I know this is almost sacrilege amongst most people but I was a little underwhelmed by the Brindisa sandwich.

    I do love chorizo cooked that way though – had breakfast there a few times which featured it and it was great.

  7. Gastro1

    Great Post

    I struggle to find a better sandwich than those at Fernadez & Wells.

    Also recommend the Shish Taouk sandwiches from Maroush/Ranoush/Beirut Express.

    No matter how much I have drunk and that can sometimes be a lot the Salt Beef at Beigel Bake tastes horrible and rubberry.

  8. The Curious Cat

    Hmmmmmmm that first sandwich looks heavenly – it has rather inspired me to use jarred roasted peppers more often – would be lovely with some goats cheese!

    You are right about the second sandwich – way too much bread!

    I’ve been meaning to try out Rosie’s place as well…good excuse!

    Hmm…will have to think hard to give you a place I think does a good sandwich…maybe a little sandwich research of my own is required! xxx

  9. Helen

    Youngandfoodish – Are you are a glutton for punishment or something?! Why do you keep going back if you don’t like it? Seriously though, I’m not saying it’s the greatest quality or anything but it is generous, it is cheap, it is open 24 hours and it has been there to help me out on more than one drunken occasion when I’ve needed to eat something fast.

    Lizzie – I’ve never even heard of Make Mine! Got to agree on the cheese n ham though, can’t beat em. I often wish I had a Breville just for hangover toasties.

    Helen – Wow, it sounds amazing. I will check out the husband’s re-creation.

    Chris – Yeah, I love them. I love both of those sandwiches in their own ways actually. People can obviously appreciate places for different reasons and it doesn’t always have to be that the best ever ingredients are used either. I do wonder sometimes why people don’t appreciate this fact.

    Ollie – Yes, I agree that the chorizo sandwich is just that – a chorizo sandwich. I think I fell in love with it because I honestly had absolutely no expectations when I turned up for one the first time round. I think if I had heard the hype and got myself all excited about it then I may have been disappointed. I may have thought it was going to change my life or something.

    Patrick – Yes I can understand and I would say the same as I have said to Ollie.

    Gastro1 – Ah yes, fernandez and Wells – I really should cover them on my sandwich tour! Thanks for the Shish Taouk rec also, I will check that one out asap. I have to say, I’ve not had a problem demolishing a bagel when horrendously drunk. Probably because they fulfil the criteria most important to drunk me – they are open, they are cheap, they are generous with the portion and they are fast.

    The Curious Cat – Yes, an overlooked ingredient really. I too am meaning to get down to Rosie’s in the next week or so. If you think of a sandwich then please let me know!

  10. Martha

    Does a burrito count as a sandwich? Because chilango’s (fleet st and islington) do a cracking burrito – huge! And perfect for hungover days at work, even if I should prob avoid the breath-contaminant extra spicy sauce…

  11. sue

    I was brought up on salt beef sandwiches – and everything about that one looks wrong. As you say – it should be bursting with meat (and the meat should be much juicier and with heart attack inducing edges of fat) and the bread really should be sliced, crusty rye that has some ‘chew’ in it. It’s hard to get a good salt beef sandwich nowadays – so I construct my own. Buy the meat from Greenspans on a Sunday (a Kosher butcher Greenspans Kosher, 9-11 Lyttelton Road, London N2 0DW) The rye bread, pickles, mustard and cucumber can be bought in any of the delis near there.

  12. sue


    for a fantastic sandwich a bit closer to home for you

    El Vergel is a south american sandwich bar in southwark


    their churrasca palta rump steak, avocado and tomatoes in Chilean Village bread with chilli sauce is a sandwich experience not to be missed .

  13. rosie lovell

    had that chorizo one from brindisa the other day. was so bloody delicious my arm nearly fell off! x

  14. Jonathan

    Wonderful stuff and thanks for the very kind links. A sandwich tour de force no doubt. I particularly enjoyed seeing a beer in the background at one point.

    If it’s OK with you, can I offer a thought or two of my own…

    Gastro1, what are your thoughts on Cafe Helen? Recent experiences at Beirut Express haven’t been that great but both the lamb and chicken shawarma at CH were excellent… I’m very keen to tuck into Fernandez and Wells as soon as I can find time to get there.

    Also, very interested to hear about Make Mine and El Vergel.

    So, are you up for a giant sandwich off? Could be fun…

  15. Tanya

    The Brindisa sandwich is my absolute favourite! I’ve tried making it at home, but it is never quite the same. Maybe it is the anticipation that builds up in the queue?

  16. Helen

    Martha – yeah, I reckon it does. I think anything with a filling and some sort of bread counts as a sandwich. The burrito might be stretching it a little but hey, who cares. I recently went to a Burrito making masterclass at Chilango actually, it was brilliant fun. I found out rolling a burrito is harder than it looks. I do find their guacamole incredibly salty though.

    Sue – Thank you and thank you again. I must try making my own salt beef sandwich. I will also check out El Vergel – very intriguing!

    Rosie – Brilliant! I love it. I am very glad to hear you still have your arm though…! x

    Jonathan – Well, you know me, I like a drink once a year or something ;) I agree with all your thoughts re: new sandwich places and yes, of course I am up for a sandwich off. Let’s do it!!

    Tanya – yes I know what you mean! Perhaps it is that queue. I mean, the sizzle and the wafts of chorizo smoke, they really do get you all excited so by the time you eat it you are so excited your arm nearly falls off as Rosie put it!

  17. Gourmet Chick

    The Brindisia grill sandwiches are also available at Whitecross street market and are a firm favourite of mine – the simplicity of the ingredients is fantastic and love the way the chorizo oil runs into the bun – mmmm.

  18. fabhat

    I love the Brindisa Chorizo sandwiches too, and always regret that I never got to try the amazing cheese sandwich from the stall outside Neals Yard Dairy that everyone raved about. For hangovers, I always love the tuna cheese melt, at “thanks for franks” on ganton st in soho. Well worth a try, even if you’re not feeling a little delicate…

  19. Sophie

    It’s very hard to beat Gaby’s on Charing Cross Road for salt beef sandwiches – not the cheapest but seriously good.

  20. foodrambler

    I do love those Brindisa chorizo sandwiches – the way the chorizo is slightly crispy crunchy on the outside. They are a bit on the small side for the price though, and that queue…

    My favourite London sandwich has to be the hog roast roll at Whitecross Market – comes with apple sauce & pork scratchings and it is enormous! Don’t know if it’s still there though – haven’t been in a while.

    Farm in Farringdon do some really great sandwiches too.

  21. Ziu

    The best sandwiches in London, in my experience, are sold in the the ‘German Pub’ (I think thats how its called, although as far as I can see its more of a sandwich bar than a pub). It is very close to the Waterloo train station, at the botom of the Lower Marsh road (I think it is technically on the other road but I dont know its name). They make giant roasts, steaming hot, slice them up and stuck the gorgeous tender meat in between the fresh bread with loats of greens and other accompliments. Divine! Their pork & apple sauce baguette sandwich is to die for!

  22. aoife @ the gannet

    Been recreating the brindisa sandwich at home and made a pasta version. The ingredients work so well together. Probably didn’t need to add all the extras I did but what the hey!
    Was this post that sent me (finally) to Borough Market, so thank you.

  23. Helen

    Ah really pleased! Pasta version sounds delicious too.

  24. martha

    this is making me so hungryy

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