In search of London’s best sandwich since sliced bread
The air has turned crisp and frosts are starting to plot their slippery assault on the soles of our shoes. Scarves are gearing up to be useful and winter coats are being remembered after six months of solitude.
Autumn is the traditional time of year for eating pork, which is why roast pork with apple sauce is such a cracking combination. It’s less of an issue now, but in days gone by the cooler air made the mass slaughter possible and provided the ideal conditions for turning the pigs into the ham, bacon and sausages that have kept people happy throughout the chilly winter months.
On a bracing morning only one thing will do – and that’s a bacon sandwich. But scandalously, a good specimen is harder to come across than a cep on Wandsworth Common. When you ask the sandwich cognoscenti where to find the best bacon sandwich in London all roads lead to St. John.
At over five quid it’s not a cheap bacon sandwich. But you get what you pay for. The bacon comes from top class Gloucester Old Spot pigs whose meat is smoked to perfection. They’ve experimented extensively in their quest to find the ideal bacon for their sandwich, which differs from the crispy type that goes better with a fry up. When contained within two slices of bread, meatiness and juiciness become more important than brittleness. If the job of St John’s chief bacon taster comes up, we’re hoping we might be interviewed!
The attention to detail only begins with the bacon. The bread is a soft sandwich loaf which is baked on site and toasted over an open char grill along with the bacon which lends the bread the telltale griddle marks. Most bacon sandwiches are finished with a smear of Heinz tomato sauce. But not here. At St. John they make their own ketchup using a crazy amount of tomatoes, vinegar, spices, apples and most impressively, a Thermo-Mix which is normally used by molecular gastronomists for turning seaweed proteins into Michelin stars.
The result is London’s best bacon sandwich. The bread is so soft, squidgy, charred and buttery that you wouldn’t even be that upset if there wasn’t any bacon inside. But thankfully there is. And lots of it. The bacon is magnificently juicy, smoky and meatier than Smithfield Market itself. The super fruity tomato ketchup is a more grown up version of the red gunge we are so used to and is a perfect foil for the salty bacon. The sheer size of this sandwich means it takes so long to eat that you may need a second pot of tea to wash it down with.
You’ll leave with a smile on your face, some tomato sauce on your shirt and a film of bacon grease on your hands that will keep you in bacon heaven for the rest of the day.
Whilst we love the bacon sandwich at St. John we’re always on the look out for other fine examples. So if you have any other suggestions for where we might find a swine filled sandwich to rival this one, please let us know.
Served until 11am
94-96 Commercial Street
London E1 6LZ