In search of London’s best sandwich since sliced bread
And Lo, God said unto Ali, thou must go forth and make sandwiches and roast perfect coffee, lest the sandwichedels and coffee heathens smite thy brethren asunder. And so it came to pass that St. Ali opened in Clerkenwell to serve the trendy architects and digital geeks of Farringdon a communion of coffee and a litany of imaginative morsels and sandwiches.
St. Ali is a fabulous addition to Clerkenwell’s café scene. With Prufrock, The Department of Coffee and Social Affairs and J+A within sneezing distance, the area is showing the rest of London how it’s done. St. Ali hails from Melbourne where they have a reputation for being masterful bean roasters with a creative spirit and knack for serving coffee that would make an American Starbucks drinker have a caffeine induced enema. It’s a joy to see coffee treated with such hip reverence.
We’ll let you fetishise over their coffee over on the Café Hunter. For things get really fun when you tuck into their unusual sandwiches. We’re all used to coffee shop sandwiches being over-priced; simultaneously gloopy and dry; and about as interesting at a copy of Encarta from 1994.
At St. Ali they’ve turned things on their head. Truffled egg rubs shoulders with roast salmon and rocket and an electric orange spiced sweet potato and chutney baguette that looks like it’s been art directed by Gary Hume.
We’ve not tried the posh egg baguette yet, but can report that the salmon number was the best fish sandwich we’ve had in London to date. The flesh was moist, flaky and worthy of being served without the bread in a restaurant, whilst the lemony dressing added a light touch that most sandwich composers sinfully ignore.
The spiced sweet potato and chutney baguette looks like it is made up of lots of cubes of tender chicken. So much so that we had to check after each bite to see whether our senses were telling the truth. The chutney was a delicious way of adding an extra dimension and marks this out as a sandwich even for meat eaters to order time and again. And just to round things off, their bread has that chewy, crusty quality that you only get when it's freshly baked on site.
So, take off your shoes and make your lunch time pilgrimage to St. Ali where they may not bathe your tired feet, but they will certainly restore your faith in London’s sandwich scene.
St. Ali is at 27 Clerkenwell Road EC1M 5RN
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