Best Sandwich Shops in London
Where does one go for a very good sandwich in London?
Personally, I have always been partial to that sandwich shop that is in ALL the train stations (I could have swarn it was called "Upper Crust" but someone told me there is no such place (?) - then it must be Pret a Manger.)
Anyway, while doing (food) research for my upcoming trip (I am a chowhound after all!) I see there are SEVERAL places I could go.
What are the favorites? (I don't like those "mushy" sandwiches with half a jar of mayonnaise! I was served that on my first trip to London and I thought I would be sick!-Thankfully I found out they weren't ALL like that :-) )
Firstly, this is essentially a 9 year bounce. I'm impressed.
Secondly, please don't SHOUT.
Thirdly, if you think Upper Crust offerings are remotely edible then you really, really should seek out a branch of Paul:
I know that no sane person is going to travel miles to find a good sandwich, and that Upper Crust's station locations mean that they are busy, but their sandwich like products are pretty dismal.
Personally I think all the chain sandwich shops in London (England) are rubbish. They have either that pre made chilled fridge flavour or the soggy mayonnaise flavour. You just can’t make a ‘good’ pre made sandwich. If you must eat something then M&S is the best.
The problem is the traditional English sandwich shops are even worse. They are the ones that have metal trays with pre made sandwich salad, which is basically some rubbish, like tinned tuna mixed with mayonnaise, or boiled egg with mayo, or you name it with mayo. The English put up with such rubbish sandwiches traditionally that the pre made sandwiches are a step up, but they are still rubbish. They have a long way to go before they can be counted as ‘good’.
There are a few ‘import’ deli type hand made sandwich shops with fresh choose your own ingredients, but they are so far and few between with a massive wait that for lunch you have to get there so early to get served with out waiting for 15/20 mins.
My favourite in London is Spianata in the city. Great fresh Italian. http://www.spianata.com/
If your in the Picadilly area; try the sandwiches at Fortnum & Mason. Their fresh,excellent and surprisingly reasonable. You can take away and walk a couple of blocks to Green Park, weather permitting.
If your on Marylebone High Street; Paul, a French chain has decent sandwiches as does Bonne something the corner sandwich shop two blocks South of Paul's, and they are very inexpensive for London. Enjoy
The un-Chowhoundish secret about London sandwiches is that the chains - specifically Pret a Manger and EAT - and the better shops - Marks & Spencers, and Boots at a push - are pretty good. Definitely better than taking a punt on an unknown independent sandwich shop, since the quality of most of these can be pretty poor. And they have the advantage of ubiquity - it's hard to swing a cat in central London without hitting one or more upmarket sandwich shops.
And few of the good independents are really good enough to be worth a detour. If you want to go out of your way for a special lunch, it's worth trying something apart from a sandwich bar.
More on the chains: Pret better for sandwiches, salads and their divine almond croissant. EAT better for soup (EAT do a great caldo verde on one of the days of the weel, although they don't call it that).
One difference I've noticed between American and British attitude to Sandwiches is that Americans seem to put a greater premium on sandwiches being made to order, whereas in Britain some of the best sandwiches are ready-made (e.g., Pret, EAT) - choosing a place simply because they make sandwiches to order isn't a way of guaranteeing quality.
A few good smaller places worth going to if you are near them are Benugo (off Oxford Street - this may now be a mini-chain), The Bush House Tuck shop (in Bush House Arcade, off the Aldwych - cheerful old school Italian sandwich shop), and Harry Browns (New Row, Covent Garden - big grilled cheesy ciabattas, a favourite of Jim Leff no less). I've attached a link to a thread with some other people's faves. Going slightly beyond the takeaway sandwich, if you're shopping in Selfridges or nearby, you could do a lot worse than have a salt beef or tongue sandwich at their salt beef bar. If you are Madame Tussaud's/the Planetarium, Reuben's on Baker Street also does a nice salt beef sandwich (although if you come from NYC, London salt beef probably won't blow your mind).
As a few people have pointed out, Upper Crust do exist - they operate concessions at major train stations. I'm not a huge fan of their sandwiches, but they are certainly going strong.
If you crave a bagel sandwich, I've been seeing some bagel shops in central locations. I haven't tried them. So far, I don't miss bagels. There's one at the Bond St. Tube stop and another in Victoria. I understand your 'mayonnaise' thing. One could overdose on some of the heavy mayonnaise use over here. :-)
Last fall I bought made to order sandwiches twice in the food halls on the top floor of Harvey Nichols. Great selection of breads, fillings and garnishes. Lovely attitude of the people making sandwiches. Took the second batch on the plane home to the great envy of those around us.
This is a peculiar question. Do you have a particular need to eat sandwiches? If so and you must have butter as the base as opposed to a disgusting spread you're better off making them yourself.
If buying sandwiches is your idea of chowing in London, then Pret a Manger is still probably your best bet along with the chain EAT, although you can get a decent sandwich in any supermarket or food outlet.
re: Tony Finch
Your wording made me smile.
I won't be eating sandwiches ALL the time :-) I'm not a compulsive sandwich eater!! ... They are just nice for lunch (so many nice picnic places in London) and nice for on the go. (I can't eat Fish & Chips every day!)
I never said I needed butter as a base (although that is very good) ... I was just thinking about some tuna salad sandwich I had (I THINK it was tuna) where the ratio was 1 jar of mayonaise to 1/2 can of meat. I just don't want anything like that.
Like I mentioned though, my 2nd trip was much better. I had wonderful sandwiches like cucumber and brie... it is just that I only visited the places in the train stations and thought if I was out and about and wanted an impromptu (sp?) picnic, I should ask on here to see what some other good places are.
I hope I cleared that up for you . (I didn't think my question was all that peculiar. ;-)
Rachel, I found your question to be particularly unpeculiar! In fact, many guests of ours (in london) ask the same question.
As to the (implied) notion that sandwiches are peculiar food or unworthy topics; good food can be enjoyed in any form and in many places... I believe that is the raison d'etre for this website.
When i must, or even when i just chose to, eat a sandwich in london, Pret is a good bet, as well as many clean looking italian deli joints. also, villandry on great portland st. if you are around oxford street.
re: angela gilliam
funny you should use the phrase "raison d'etre" because that is also the name of the of what i consider to be the best sandwich shop in london. located on bute street off of old brompton road, near the south ken tube station raison d'etre makes fabulous sandwiches with ultra-fresh ingredients. all sandwiches are made to order--you can choose from one on their menu and select your own ingredients. all are served on a choice of foccacia, baguette, or ciabatta. my favorite is the roasted aubergines with grilled onions and goat cheese on ciabatta. mmmmm. it's closed on sundays but open every other day til 4pm. the chocolate chip cookies are yummy too.