DEREK ROBERTSON, SEPT 2017
For busy Londoners, always on the go, the simple sandwich forms the cornerstone of many a lunch. Chains such as EAT and Pret a Manger have long focused on tasty, nutritious fare, freshly prepared on a daily basis, to feed the hungry hordes between 12 and 2pm. But this most convenient of foods has come a long way since John Montagu, the fourth Earl of Sandwich, demanded his beef be served between two pieces of bread so he wouldn’t have to leave his beloved gaming table or get his hands dirty.
And, as with all things food related in the capital, imaginative chef’s have come up with a bewildering array of innovative, delicious, and downright decadent creations. Here are London’s best five sandwiches.
Monty's Deli - "The Reuben"
For those who prefer to keep things old school, head to Monty’s in Hoxton Street for the biggest, mouth-watering Reuben you can lay your hands on this side of New York. Lashings of Swiss cheese, stinging yellow mustard, Russian dressing, and sauerkraut are the perfect compliment to toasted sourdough and your choice of melt-in-your-mouth pastrami or salt beef. Be prepared to queue at peak times, but the wait is more than worth it.
The humble cheese toastie is such a simple idea, and yet done right, it borders on magnificence. It’s not that hard to grill some cheese in between two slices of bread, but Borough Market’s Kappacasein have elevated it to an art form. Key to the taste is their three-cheese blend; Montgomery cheddar, Comté, and Bermondsey Hard-Pressed, the latter made in-house by their very own dairy. This is served on exquisite Poilâne sourdough, to which can be added a bewildering array of extra ingredients. Hot haggis and caramelized onion anyone?
Banh Mi Hoi An
Think of Vietnamese street food, and stuffed baguettes might not be the first thing that springs to mind, but bánh mì goes way back. Dating from the French colonial rule, these Vietnamese baguettes are made with rice flour alongside wheat, producing an airier bread with a thinner crust, and this Hackney institution does them better than most. Roast pork belly, tofu, meat balls, and catfish are just some of the fillings to choose from, piled on top of shredded carrot, salad, and plenty of fresh chilli.
Dishoom - "The Bacon Naan"
As a fad, fusion food has long since been and gone, but just occasionally, some mad genius combines traditional elements to form an instant classic. A twist on a traditional British staple – the bacon roll – Dishoom combines smoked streaky bacon, ream cheese, tomato chilli jam, and coriander in one of their freshly baked, hand made naan breads. The result? Breakfast heaven. Get there before 11.30am to sample one of the most filling, and satisfying, ways to start the day.
Quo Vadis - "Smoked Eel Sandwich"
London being London, there are plenty of upmarket options even with sandwiches. You could tuck into a £25 lobster roll at The Hawksmoor Knightsbridge, or have afternoon tea – including cucumber sandwiches – at Claridge’s. But for a bit of tradition and class, head to Quo Vadis on Dean Street for this perfectly formed little gem. Juicy fillets of lightly smoked eel, golden squares of crisp sourdough, creamed horseradish, and strings of pickled red onion make this an incredibly moreish dish, so much so that just one might not suffice. Elegance never tasted so good.