The London Review of Breakfasts

"Hope is a good breakfast, but it is a bad supper." (Francis Bacon)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Sandwich Box, Highbury

The Sandwich Box
4a Gillespie Road
N5 1LN
020 77041988

by Grease Witherspoon

Having only moved to my area fairly recently, I am still feeling smug about my decision. It's a place for parks, families, quirkiness, proximity, watering holes and local characters - and you just can’t knock it.

So it was with stubbornly high hopes that I decided to meet fellow new locals Min and Fe at The Sandwich Box, which I had already decided was a slice of Parisian quaintness. Every time I pass this tiny café-cum-takeaway with its striped awning and outdoor tables (spread over the pavement with an arrogance that only continentals can achieve), I am transported to the backstreets of Montparnasse. As we sat down I mourned leaving my sunglasses at home and instead pointed my nose upwards, trying to look like I had a certain je-ne-sais-quoi.

But instead of the Eiffel Tower straddling the horizon, our view was obscured by the cranes of the Highbury Square development; and instead of rubbing shoulders with would-be Serge Gainsbourgs, we were ogled by men in Arsenal shirts, perfuming the air with the smell of stale beer. I may have set myself up for disappointment.

Once seated, the friendly staff did their best to please, bringing a plate of toast cut from a proper loaf and completely smothered in salty butter. Très bien. But after a cup of strong tea my Gallic delusions quickly dissipated and all I craved was a proper British greasy spoon. Having arrived earlier, Fe was already tucking into a plastered together vegetarian, wheat and dairy-free option: beans, eggs and hash browns. Min had settled for a cheese toastie, a not unfeasible substitute for a croque monsieur, which I was told hit the spot. I eagerly awaited my full English, feeling my bets were aptly hedged.

There I went, setting myself up for disappointment again. The sausage was reheated and cold in the middle, the bacon was an odd mix between crispy and tough, the eggs - rubbery. Admittedly the hash browns fell apart in a flaky way that hinted at a kind of home-made domesticity, but perhaps this was only a wishful projection.

However, I did spy some homemade cakes on a counter, waiting to be sliced. Next time I might give the full English a miss, although for £3.95 you could do worse, and come back for tea and cake. So perhaps it isn’t so much "goodbye" to the Sandwich Box, as "au revoir".


Anonymous Matt said...

It's a sandwich shop. The sandwiches are pretty good (fresh, decent bread, fillings prepared daily, etc). A breakfast bap usually hits the spot (a hash-brown in a sandwich? Surprisingly successful). The home made salt beef is also worth a try.

1:47 PM, August 17, 2010  

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