In search of Londonâ€™s best sandwich since sliced bread
Given that sandwiches were allegedly invented in the UK itâ€™s not too much of a stretch to imagine London as being the epicenter of the worldâ€™s sandwich culture – a city where the streets are paved with sandwiches stuffed with imaginative fillings and enclosed within a range of artisan breads.
But you have to search very hard to find a sandwich to write home about. Sure, Pret, EAT, M&S, Greggs and other high street outlets do a half decent job of serving prepackaged cold sandwiches and your local sandwich shop will knock something adequate together for you. But it is almost impossible to find somewhere on the high street that serves hot deli sandwiches that you will find strewn across America.
Surely, London should be leading the charge. Surely we should be tucking away roast pork and apple sauce baps, wild mushroom bloomers, duck confit baguettes and other hot savoury wonders like you find in Londonâ€™s trend food markets on a daily basis. But instead we eat cold, flaccid, mayonnaisy shadowiches whilst sat at our miserable, crumb strewn desks.
This isnâ€™t the place to drone on about the food costs, bizarre taxation, outdated licensing and habitual inertia that perpetuate this sorry plight. Rather itâ€™s a chance to showcase a cracking sandwich shop in East Sheen, called Pickle & Rye, who serve an authentic array of American classics that prove that this trend can be bucked.
Pulled pork, a California club, Buffalo Chicken, Philly Cheesesteak, Pastrami on Rye all intermittently grace the menu that has been lovingly created by an all American chef who comes from Philadelphia. Alex spoke longingly of his love for American sandwiches and of his despair at finding that London only offered a few passable renditions of American classics. Heâ€™s a proper chef who runs a catering business and has aspirations to open a proper American soul food restaurant which London is crying out for.
His barbecued brisket with homemade slaw came in a whole-wheat bap and slicked with tangy hickory sauce. The home-roasted, shredded meat was moist, generous, moreish and unctuous. The acidity and crunch of a signature gherkin added a textural and sour counterpoint to the comforting richness. It had all been cooked by Alex who wouldnâ€™t tell us his secret, which made the sandwich even more satisfying. As beef sandwiches go, itâ€™s hard to think of a many better sandwiches in London. We wonder whether it could become even better if it was given a minor bread upgrade, but thatâ€™s just us being picky.
We didnâ€™t get a chance to test out the rest of their sandwiches. Weâ€™ve got a suspicion that their pulled pork could be off the scale. And have an inking that their Philly Cheesesteak is worth a schlep to Sheen as well when itâ€™s on the menu.
So well done Pickle & Rye for showing us that it is possible to serve hot American deli sandwiches in London. Although letâ€™s hope that we donâ€™t see any Big Kahuna Donut Burgers anytime soon. Weâ€™re not sure London is quite ready for that.
Pickle & Rye
30 Sheen Lane, East Sheen, SW14 8LW, London