Sunday, December 23, 2007

Wish you a Sausage-y Christmas

... and a Happy New Year.

The decorations above are from the Paperchase store on Tottenham Court Road. Sadly no real hot dogs were available.

See you next year for more sausage and bread bloggery. In the meantime, here's a nice little recipe for an American style gumbo that uses smoked sausage and leftover turkey!

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Bodean's, corner of Poland St. and D'Arblay St. (return visit)

A quick revisit to try their Cumberland sausage in a bun.

In brief, the sausage seemed to be of very good quality but I don't think barbecuing brought the best out of it. The already peppery sausage was given a smokey, chargrilled flavour that probaby suited the beef hot dog more. On the side was a serving of the house bbq sauce which, again, probably works better with their hot dog or ribs.

Still, they use good quality ingredients here and whilst £3.50 is a little steep for what you're getting, you can do worse in Soho.

4 out of 5

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Honest Sausage, Regents Park

After reading the recent Time Out Top Sausage list, I decided to try out one of the places recommended, Honest Sausage right in the middle of Regents Park.

This is a great locations for any cafe, let alone one specializing in sausages. It is surrounded by the vast Regents Park and is a stone's throw from the park's picturesque, landscaped areas, London Zoo and other attractions.

The only possible downside is that it is somewhat out of the way of central London, so unless you were planning a trip to the park, you have to make something of an effort to get there.

So what is so honest about The Honest Sausage? Well, the meat used in the sausages is strictly free-range and the bread they use is all organic, so you can be assured that your banger-in-a-bun is free of nitrates, MSG and any other bad stuff.

On the day I went, they were serving a their 'house special' pork sausage and also a pork and leek 'guest sausage'. Sausages are served in a white bun with optional freshly-made onion relish.

Ketchup, brown sauce and two mustards (mild and strong) are your condiment choices. You can also have your bangers with mash and gravy, if you're in the mood for that kind of thing.

As I'd come so far out of my usual Soho stomping ground, I really had to try both sausages. I had the house pork with ketchup and mild, grain mustard and the pork and leek with brown sauce, with onion relish in both.

On a cold autumnal day, I would have liked the sausages to be hotter but that is really the only flaw I could find. They were moist and unadulterated. No real herbs to speak of, so the flavour was purely in the meat and light seasoning. Very nice and natural tasting.

The mild, grain mustard was probably the wrong choice. I think the stronger English mustard would have been perfect with this classic pork banger. As for the brown sauce, if it wasn't HP, it was certainly a good approximation of it.

The bread was soft and airy and the perfect accompaniment to both sausages. Light enough to make eating two quite easy.

The sausages are on a par with E. Biggles, and the bread is better so I can't think of any reason not to give Honest Sausage full marks.

5 out of 5. Well worth seeking out.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Time Out gets in on the sausage action

The London listings mag has caught the sausage bug and published its own list of London's best sausages.

Time Out's Best Sausages

It's an intruiging list. Kurz & Lang is on my list of out-of-Soho places that I really want to try, but I hadn't heard of the Honest Sausage in Regent's Park. I'm hoping to review all of the places in the list at some point.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Condiment Corner: Wilkin and Sons Brown Sauce

In 2006, despite an internet campaign and even street protests, the production of HP sauce - the dark, vinegary condiment that's been an essential part of British breakfast tables since the early 1900s - moved from Birmingham to Holland, so ending a century of tradition.

Taking production out of the UK probably won't affect the taste of HP sauce, but it does diminish its homegrown appeal and you could say that the title of 'Great British Brown Sauce' is up for grabs.

Joining the brands that might lay claim to the title (e.g. Daddies, Branston), we now have a new player: Wilkin and Sons.

Wilkin and Sons are more known for their jams and marmalades (I have to admit I'm a big fan of their strawberry jam). Their brown sauce comes in a traditional looking glass bottle with the trademark, minimalist label. There is also a tag on every bottle with the name of the worker who (presumeably) screwed the top on and sent the bottle on its way. Appearance-wise, you can't fault it.

The sauce itself in very different to HP. It's lucky the bottle has a wide neck because you will have quite a job pouring the sauce and you will probably have to use a knife to encourage it out. The sauce has got a slightly gelatinous texture - almost like a very runny marmalade. EDIT: After the first use, the sauce became runnier and easier to pour.

Taste-wise it's much less vinegary, more fruity and sweeter than HP and it might remind you of a relish.

Overall I liked it. It's a good sauce that would go great with a spicier, flavoured sausage or a very peppery cumberland, or any barbecued meats. It's nothing like HP but I don't think it's trying to be. If you don't mind your sauce having a sweetness to it, give it a try.


Monday, October 29, 2007

E. Biggles, Marylebone Lane

E. Biggles is a purveyor of fine sausages based in Marylebone (just north of Oxford Street). It's basically a butchers that specializes in sausages, as opposed to a sandwich shop, so don't expect any tables, chairs or the niceties of a Soho cafe. If you peek down the spiral staircase into the basement area, you will probably see the chopping board and trays of mince that go into the Biggles links.

The unusual setting combined with the gentleman who served me - a glum looking, elderly gent who trudged up the stairs to serve me - gave the whole experience an almost Dickensian feel. It was great!

As well as selling uncooked sausages for you to take home, Biggles also has a daily selection of cooked sausages that they sell in simple baguettes for you to eat right away.

The one I chose was their 'signature sausage' - the Marylebone, a delicately herbed, pork variety. It came in a plain, supermarket-bought baguette from Morrisons. A good variety of condiments were on the counter.

A great sausage - lovely flavour, moist with a barely noticable casing. It was nicely cooked too, with a little bit of charring. The baguette was good and seemed fresh, although a softer, more floury variety might have complimented this particular sausage even better.

If you want something less traditional, there is usually a spicier sausage available too (they have literally dozens of varieties in the shop).

4.5 out of 5. A real treat. Highly recommended.

Be warned that there is nowhere in the vicinity for you to eat your sausage baguette, so you may have to stand and eat it in the street as I did, which was a little awkward.

Ebiggles has an official website here, although it wasn't working when I tried.

You can find some more info on .

Monday, October 15, 2007

Coffea, Brewer Street

Brewer Street is one of the most interesting and diverse streets in Soho, and indeed in London.

Along its length you will find excellent Japanese noodle restaurants, sushi bars, a Japanese grocery store, a couple of Italian restaurants (one owned by 'celebrity chef' Aldo Zilli), a fantastic French seafood bistro called Randall and Aubin, a falafel bar, an Italian deli, pubs, bookshops, a health spa, two DIY stores, a gay lifestyle emporium, adult sex shops and a porn cinema.

And a travel agent and three hairdressers. And a little shop that sells old-fashioned, English sweets from giant jars.

And it's not even a long street!

It also contains a number of small cafes one of which is very good (Cafe Rio) and another which is... well...

My Coffea experience started well enough, with friendly, courteous staff and no need to wait as the place was empty. I ordered a sausage sandwich with brown sauce. The waitress suggested a baguette and as I like to go with staff suggestions in places like this, a baguette it was.

Perhaps I've been spoiled with all the great places I've discovered recently (see the Top 5) but this was a truly atrocious sausage sandwich. The sausage was pasty and mushy, with little semblance of meat inside its casing, which looked like it had a fake tan.

The bread was definitely stale - but how many days old I couldn't quite tell. The attempt to toast the baguette had only succeeded in making it flaky and crumbly.

The brown sauce was generic cafe brown. Normally not a crime but in this context, it added to the misery quite considerably.

A bad excuse for a sausage sandwich and a rare instance of me buying a sausage sandwich but not finishing it.

0 out of 5. Avoid, and walk a few extra steps to Cafe Rio.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The Sausage and Bread Top 5 (October 2007)

I've discovered some really good places over the last few months so I thought the Top 5 needed a bit of revising.

Olly Olson is no longer with us and unfortunately Dolce Cafe has had to make way (although it's still a place that I would recommend for a better than average sausage sandwich). So, here we go. Here's the New Top 5:

Hangs on to fifth spot for its efficiency in preparation and quite decent pork bangers.

Takes over as the hot dog representative in the Top 5. Has a range of toppings to choose from and a passion for flavourful food.

Currently the best, basic sausage sarnie I've found in Soho and an excellent sandwich shop all round.

A fine chorizo and roasted pepper ciabatta in this haven for foodies. Their daily specials sometimes feature sausage too.

1 - PAUL (salami baguette)

It's a really tough call between Paul and Fernandez & Wells since both sandwiches are exceptional. In the end, I thought the Paul salamai bauguette just edged into the top spot based on the perfect mix of flavours and the slightly more sophisticated presentation. It just can't be improved upon.

Both sandwiches are a real treat, though.

Oct 2nd 2007

Thursday, September 27, 2007

A new Top 5 is coming soon

The Sausage and Bread Top 5 is in need of a major overhaul; several new establishments have emerged in the last few months and at least one has closed down.

So stay tuned for an updated Top 5...

Friday, September 21, 2007

Sept 24th is National Braai Day in South Africa

South Africans sure do enjoy a good braai (bbq) and no braai is complete without boerewors.

I have to admit the ones I tried when I was in Namibia weren't that appealing: dark and chewy meat with a somewhat musty, heavily spiced flavour. However they come in endless varieties and there is undoubtedly a 'wors' to suit everyone.

And what better way to kick off a weekend than watching Archbishop Desmond Tutu geting all excited over a sausage sarnie :D

Braai etiquette:

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Homemade: Wickham Manor Farm sausages

I was wandering through Balham in South London when I saw a small farmer's market selling organic produce. One of the stalls was for Wickham Manor Farm and was selling - you guessed it - sausages.

It was too good an opportunity to miss so I bagged one pack of pork sausages and one pack of cumberland. The friendly stallholder gave strict instructions not to rush the cooking of these sausages (allow 20 mins) and when I examined the label back home, I discovered that the farm is a supporter of the 'slow food movement' - a campaign to get people away from our current microwave-burger-bar-scoff-it-down culture and instead actually take some time over food - and thereby appreciate it more.

In other words, these sausages are made with the intention of being savoured. First up, the plain pork sausages:

The first thing you notice is how lean the sausages are. Very little fat comes out when you grill them. Solidly packed in a thin casing, meaty and delicately seasoned, these went great with mustard and tomatoes (grilled along with the sausages) in a fresh baguette. I did like the texture and flavour of these very much.

The following weekend I tried the cumberland variety:

Again, a very good sausage, although I thought it could have done with a bit more seasoning. The texture was good but I felt it lacked a little fat this time. This could have been purely down to me grilling the sausage for too long, but either way I think a bit more fat would have enhanced the flavour overall. The relative leanness of the sausage might be why I missed that peppery, herby taste I associate with a cumberland. You can't deny the quality of the meat, though, and I'd be happy to get a sausage like this in a sandwich bought in town.

Both sausages were really good but the plain pork was especially good, in my opinion. If you'd like to order or buy Wickham Manor Farm sausages, their contact details are:

Wickham Manor Farm
Panel Lane
East Sussex
TN36 4AG

tel: 01797 225 575 (

Or you might be able to catch them at the farmer's market in Balham High Street at the weekend. Enjoy!

Monday, September 03, 2007

Goodbye Olly Olson. Was nice knowin' ya.

Sad to report that after just a few months, Scandanavian hot dog pioneer Olly Olson has shut up shop.

Despite being in a great location (and my numerous visits), they seemed to have had trouble attracting customers in large numbers to the store.

They never really promoted the hot dogs that well and the whole concept - from the name to the look of the store - never really clicked. The quality of the actual hot dogs was variable too, and they were presented almost as curiosities, rather than as tasty food to be enjoyed. Whilst the Swedish Korv was memorably good, something just didn't work there.

Ah well, the choice for hot dogs in London just got smaller.

Olly Olson Review 1

Olly Olson Review 2

Friday, August 17, 2007

Canaletto Bar, Beak Street

A friendly, small cafe in one of the nicest parts of Soho, near Golden Square and Carnaby Street.

The toasted sausage sandwich on brown was okay. Like Cafe Rio they slice one sausage into thin slices for a sandwich.

It was a decent sausage with a meaty texture but is was noticeably saltier than average. Bread a little too toasted too. Belongs in the 'quality' bracket but not exceptional.

3 out of 5.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Bodean's, corner of Poland St. and D'Arblay St.

Bodean's BBQ Smoke House has been in Soho for a few years now and is known as the place to go if you want US-style barbecue ribs. What I didn't know was that they also sell hot dogs - and pretty good ones too.

Like Ed's Easy Diner (the only other place I know of that does American hot dogs), Bodean's is a US-themed restaurant but that's where the similarities end. Bodean's was founded by a man from Kansas called Bryan Tyrell who - according to the restaurant's publicity - has been a world BBQ champion twice and BBQ meats (ribs, chicken, pulled pork, 'burnt ends' beef brisket) are the main feature of the Bodean's menu.

I was only here for the hot dogs though...

Bodean's sells two sausage and bread combos - a Cumberland sausage sandwich and a 1/4lb 'Chicago' all-beef hot dog.

Tempting as the Cumberland sausage was, I felt I had to try the beef dog. I ordered mine with chilli and jalapenos on top. Pickles and a handful of fries came free with it. The pink blob on the side is some kind of mayo. It didn't taste great.

This is certainly the closest thing to a true American hot dog (such as those championed by the guys at that I've found in London. The sausage was nicely charred on the outside and moist on the inside. A really nice hot dog sausage.

The chili was a little wet for my liking and once it again it had beans. I have mental image now of what kind of chili would be perfect in a hot dog - it would be quite thick in consistency, dark, with a hint of sweetness as well as the chili kick, and the beef would be quite fine. The Bodean's chili wasn't quite like that but it still tasted pretty good and had a freshly-cooked quality to it. The jalapenos helped to add more of a bite. Other toppings you can get include sauerkraut, cheese and grilled onions and there are a variety of sauces (BBQ, ketchup etc.) on the table.

The bread roll was the weak point as it was somewhat tasteless - kind of an afterthought.

Overall, this was superior hot dog and there are plenty of toppings to choose from to maximise your hot dog experience. The only thing that could be improved is the bread.

4.5 out of 5. The best American style hot dog I've had in London so far.

Bodean's website.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Health concerns raised over cheap sausages

A new study claims that a common food dye often found in cheap sausages may pose a cancer risk.

Worrying news.

The additive in question is E128. I recommend you avoid any sausage (or indeed any food) containing this E number, which is already banned in some countries.

As some of my reviews have shown, it's a sad fact that cheap (and - we may as well say it - nasty) sausages are all too common in British greasy spoon caffs. Now, not only is there a serious taste warning attached to cheap bangers, but also a serious health warning.

Now more than ever, I think, is the time to highlight good sausages and where they can be eaten. We need to start raising the bar when it comes to quality of sausages served and sold in the UK.

Friday, July 06, 2007

A Day in the Life of a Danish Hot Dog Seller

You don't have to speak Danish to appreciate this wonderful little film about a splendid looking hot dog cart in Copenhagen.

Copenhagen is at the top of my must-visit list. I can't wait to sample hot dogs like this!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Fernandez and Wells, Lexington Street

A brand new arrival in Soho. There are actually two Fernandez and Wells stores. One is a cafe specializing in cakes, coffee and light snacks (in Beak Street) and this branch which is more of a deli selling cooked food, jamón ibérico and wine etc.

This is foodie heaven. Daily lunch specials such as paella or rabbit stew are advertised on a chalk board outside whilst magnificent legs of jamón hang proudly in the window. Seriously good stuff can be bought here.

This includes a grilled chorizo sandwich:

Ciabatta, rocket, grilled red peppers and a couple of deep red, oily, chorizo sausages. This is an intensely good sausage sandwich. The chorizo is soft and delicious and the oil seeps into the salad and bread (possibly a little too much).

The flavours may not be as subtle as the Paul salami baguette, but the sausage is the star here - meaty and intense and a great partner to the floury, airy ciabatta.

It's a tough call between this and the Paul baguette for the Number One position in the Top 5.

As well as the chorizo sandwich, I also sampled a daily special, a chorizo sausage and bean stew. A picture is worth a thousand words so all I can really say is it was bloomin' fantastic. The darker sausage was a type of black pudding, I think.

Soho has a new star.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Cafe Rio, Brewer Street

A pleasant surprise this. Cafe Rio is one of the larger cafes in Soho and has more tables and seats than other establishments. It's a great spot for a leisurely breakfast without people knocking into your table every five minutes.

Now, on to their toasted sausage sandwich on brown bread, with brown sauce; Very good. The sausage was distinctly meaty and well herbed. It was as good as any 'caff' sausage I've had.

They also used what seemed to be real HP brown sauce, which is a rarity (it's a travesty that this is so in London, the capital city of Great Britain, but there you have it).

The only downer is that instead of offering two sausages cut lengthways, Cafe Rio seems to give you just one sausage which is sliced finely into thin strips. So what you gain in quality, you lose in quantity.

That said, it is still an enjoyable, tasty sausage sarnie.

4 out of 5. A place in the Top 5 beckons (watch this space).

Friday, June 08, 2007

Jumbo Eats, Brewer Street

A well known Soho eaterie and takeaway, Jumbo Eats has been here for as long as I can remember.

Their menu has evolved to specialize in mediterranean style flatbread wraps which, as you can tell from the queue at lunchtime, are very popular. They also do the usual cafe fare, such as a sausage sandwich.

Quite a disappointment, this. Very, very poor, mushy sausage lacking meat and flavour. Any taste was overpowered by cheap brown sauce.

It's possible that the cafe owners take such pride in their wraps that they look on something like a humble sausage sarnie with disdain but still, it was an experience I'd rather not repeat. Try their wraps instead.

1 out of 5

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Homemade: Debbie and Andrew's Harrogate Pork

Part 2 of my Debbie and Andrew's review. Had these in the freezer for a while and thought it was about time I tried them out. To go with them: a Sainsburys crusty 'French' baguette.

For a change I cooked these under a proper grill (hence the tin foil). I have to say they browned beautifully and stayed plump and juicy.

They were good. Really flavoursome meat and not too much seasoning. Quite a clean taste, if you know what I mean. The crispy grilled skins worked very well with the crusty exterior and fluffy interior of the bread, I thought. I love the French style merguez and baguette sandwich and this sort of reminded me of those.

I've been pretty impressed with Debbie and Andrew's so far and I hope I can try the whoe range eventually. Recommended.

Friday, June 01, 2007

S and M Cafe, Essex Road, Islington

Another restaurant this time, the S and M Cafe on Essex Road, Islington.

Not a sausage and bread combo (although a sausage sarnie is on the menu) but I thought it deserved a mention.

Not only is this refurbished art deco diner a wonderful setting, the sausages are fantastic too.

The pork bangers I chose (they have a wide variety of sausages to choose from) were herby, plump and juicy and the mash was wonderfully creamy. The gravy was generously dispensed and there were three mustards, HP sauce and ketchup on the table. Perfection.