In search of London’s best sandwich since sliced bread
During dark times, sales of affordable luxuries such as lipstick rise rather than fall as people splurge on treats to put a glossy smile on their faces. So we decided to splurge on London’s most iconic luxury sandwich which is to be found in the gilded café at Sotheby’s amongst works of art and pieces of furniture that are so expensive that shelling out £18 on a sandwich seems like a bargain.
Having avoided damaging, or bidding for, the £3.8 million Chippendale commode on our way in we settled into the ultra-tasteful café and mentally devoured the whole menu. Twice. We attempted to order a brace of lobster club sandwiches but were rationed to just one which was pretty irritating considering our next-door-neighbour, who arrived after us, was successful in his bid for one. But then again he was wearing a particularly expensive suit, so it’s OK. We’ve heard that the trick is to ask one of your secretaries to telephone your order in first to avoid disappointment.
The sandwich itself is enormous. It’s like the Arc Royal turning up when you expected a small tug. Four double-decker brioche triangles arrived groaning with lobster, a little too much mayonnaise, tomato, lettuce and smoked bacon. Everything about this sandwich oozes richness and tweed-clad-class. But like all lobster dishes it’s anything but graceful to eat and almost calls for the notorious technique of covering your head with a tea towel that is required when eating ortolan. And therein lies the fun of eating lobster. It’s such a primeval thrill that you are miffed if you don’t emerge looking like a toddler who’s just discovered a water-pistol loaded with scarlet Dulux.
The brioche was pillowy inside and crisp on the surface – the oiliness simply adding to the decadence. The lobster didn’t taste much of the lemon and Tabasco that Laura Greenfield apparently roasts it with, but never mind. However, the slightly stingy amount of lobster meat involved was more problematic. But given the delicious flavour and our heartfelt love of bacon it was still a fine sandwich that had us grinning so much we were in danger of placing an accidental bid on a Ming Vase. Our suggestion would be to serve fewer sandwiches per portion but with the same amount of lobster.
Whilst the sandwich didn’t quite live up to our extravagant expectations, it’s still one of London’s finer sandwiches. It’s just that it isn’t perfect and neither is their rationing system. And with this homage to the, far from humble, homard, we wish you good luck as you trudge through the annual flurry of festive sandwiches.
Sotheby's Café, 34-35 New Bond Street, Mayfair.