In search of London’s best sandwich since sliced bread
Is there a more passionate sandwich maker in London than Yianni Papoutsis? His enthusiasm and dedication for perfecting the dark art of burger making won him the best sandwich gong at the British Street Food awards. His thorough research has taken him across the pond to legendary burger joints such as In-n-Out and Hodad’s in San Diego where he’s not only gathered inspiration for burger ideas that London’s burgerati are gagging for, but has also developed ninja-esque cooking skills.
We stood by the pass and watched Yianni in action. Freshly ground, 28 day aged chuck steak with a fat content of around 15% is manhandled into patties, seasoned and cooked to order with the sweaty grace of a focused perfectionist. Dead Hippies are squashed and squirted with American mustard; hot dogs are doused with liquid to allow them to steam and fry before being covered with a cloche and swamped with spicy beanless chilli con carne; and bacon isn’t simply fried and applied, but steamed, chopped and griddled before being married with the meat like at Hodad’s. This is burger cooking of the highest skill and all at break neck speed for hundreds of greedy customers.
Yianni hasn’t just reached a higher plane of burger cooking, he’s also created a sense of theatre that enhances the burger eating experience. You can almost taste his enthusiasm which has proved to be infectious. It’s impossible to spend anytime as a food lover on Twitter without developing a burger craving due to #Meateasy appearing in your news feed on a daily basis; and then once you are safely on the premises the darkness, noise, low-fi decorations, long wait, hip vibe from the fellow burger lovers and sense of smugness that you’re in the know creates an atmosphere that contributes to the flavour of the burger.
It would be fascinating to do a experiment to analyse the taste of #Meateasy’s burgers without the extrinsic factors we’ve just mentioned. Just as burgers from the #Meatwagon tasted all the better for being served from a van, at the #Meateasy do they taste glorious in part because of the dive bar vibe? The point here isn’t to detract from the food. Quite the opposite. It’s to praise the #Meateasy for creating the perfect stage for Yianni’s burgers to shine.
We tried almost everything on the menu. Dead Hippies were a massive step up from the Big Mac they are modeled on; Bacon Cheeseburgers were epic with their bacony crust complementing the juicy beef; Chilli Cheeseburgers were reassuringly spicy with almost too much of the green stuff; a Philly Cheese Steak looked just as disgustingly ravishing as it should do; and the hot dog smothered in chilli and cheese was by far the best we’ve had in London. They all deserve a post in their own right, especially the PCS which are few and far between in London. Part of the secret we suspect lies in the top secret oozy cheese which deplorably coats everything it touches in awesomeness and the soft sourdough buns that are freshly baked to Yianni’s exacting specifications.
Aside from these killer sandwiches, onion rings, chilli cheese fries, mac and cheese and chicken wings were as good as anything we’ve had elsewhere in town. And the cocktails jammed into jars are unspeakably good.
You’ve got until April 16th.
Above the Goldsmiths tavern - 316 New Cross Rd, London SE14 6AF. Open Tuesday to Saturday, 6pm – 11pm for food, later for drinks. Cash only.