Saturday, 20 November 2010

The Battle of Borough Market: Roast v Brindisa

I don't know about you but whenever I visit Borough Market, I just have to grab a bite to eat. It's the only way to cope with the ever increasingly stressful ordeal of visiting this market on a Saturday. I usually go for a double chorizo sandwich from the open grill outside Brindisa. However, I fancied a change one Saturday, so I wandered over to Roast To Go.

Penélope Cruz, courtesy Wikipedia
Whilst in the queue, I began to daydream about an imaginary battle between these two stalls to decide who is The King of Borough Market. The film running through my mind is a gangland drama with Ray Winstone, exuding his trademark quiet malevolence, playing the head of the Roast mob. Javier Bardem portrays the boss of the rival Brindisa gang boss, for the simple reason that he's the first Spanish actor that popped into my head.

As with most big Spanish films (real or imaginary), Penélope Cruz is in it and it was at the point when her character was abducted by Winstone's that I reached the front of the queue. My screenplay would just have to wait; although I'm pretty sure Pedro Almodóvar won't be calling anytime soon.

Back at Roast, I duly ordered the pork belly with apple sauce sandwich (£6). Unfortunately, it was bland and tasteless. To add insult to injury, the crackling was chewy and not even the apple sauce could lift this poor effort. It really could've done with some stuffing or gravy but even that wouldn't have disguised the fact that it was overpriced and under-seasoned.

In contrast, Brindisa's trusty old double chorizo sandwich (£4.85) shows Roast how it should be done. There was always going to be more flavour, as chorizo naturally has, but it was the sweet piquillo peppers that nearly stole the show. Not even the presence of devil-weed (rocket) could spoil this superior sarnie. It's no wonder that there's always a queue for this beauty.

So, there's only one winner in the Battle of Borough Market and that's Brindisa, which isn't really much of a shock. Anyway, now we've established that, I know you're all dying to find out what happens in the rest of my screenplay, 'The King of Borough Market'.

Bardem rescues Cruz from the clutches of Winstone, who follows in hot pursuit. However, the Spanish gang leads Winstone's mob into a trap at a deserted Borough Market. Bardem has Winstone on his knees but spares him on the understanding that the Englishman will learn how to season pork belly properly. OK then, I guess I won't be giving up the day job anytime soon but I can always dream!


  1. Forget Penelope - that chorizo sandwich is a beauty.

  2. It's not only Roast that sells under seasoned bland food at Borough Market. It's becoming a common theme there from what I can gather. All though I try to not to go there that much.
    But yeah Chorizo rocks.

  3. I work nearby and I've never even been tempted to try Roast. Not the stall anyhow - the restaurant looks alright. For my money, the best lunch in Borough is still the bacon, bubble and cheese bap.

  4. Totally agree the chorizo sandwich at Brindisia is unmissable - a total classic! Have you been to the raclette man? also amazing.

  5. Couldn't agree more. Roast to go is awful. The salt beef is diabolical as well. Brindisa chorizo sanger on the other

  6. GDiva - it most certainly is!

    Mzungu - you're right, there's a lot of shall we say 'tourist-friendly' stuff down at Borough Market nowadays.

    Chz - lucky you, working near BM.

    GChick - I'm not big on raclette so alas no.

    Helen - I thought I may have been unlucky at Roast in terms of what I ordered but if the salt beef is bad too then it does make you wonder!

  7. Having lived around there for the past 13 years, I have certainly seen Borough Market evolve into a hugh destination. Or is it just a tourist trap? Victims of their own success?Everyone has their own opinion. You decide. The quality of produce is amazing, but now it has become a little bit expensive. So when you have a bad experience it makes it even more disappointing.
    I suggest you go there on a different day, as Saturdays do tend to be crowded. Shop around, there's plenty of choice. I agree the Brindisa chorizo sandwich rocks!
    For the past two years I have been writing food and wine articles for their magazine. I'm always around doing my 'research'.

  8. Shame the Roast effort didn't live up to expectations. Fernandez and Wells does an awesome roast pork sandwich. Dribbly, porky goodness. With crackling.

  9. If i go to Borough, i tend to go early before the official opening time as the crowds are pretty thin then and you can get what you need easily. But, it does mean that the food stalls aren't up and going at that point. When i do venture there to eat, the venison burger is pretty damn good, and I think there's a boar sausage place that does a pretty mean sarnie too. The chorizo is very good, but i tend to be put off by the five mile queue...

  10. Roast is crap across the board I think - once tried their bacon rolls and they were dire. Nasty bread and very little bacon and pricy too. Love the chorizo rolls. And the hot sausage rolls from Ginger Pig. Scallops from Shellseekers also a total treat.

  11. Robert - welcome! I think the work on the Thameslink railway coupled with too many gawpers has made Borough Market less welcoming. Unfortunately, Saturday is the only day I can get to BM (I work during the week) but if I get there early enough then it's not too bad. The one thing that I would say is that there is far too much hype about BM because there are so few other decent food markets in London. I mean I can't imagine the French, Italian or the Spanish getting so worked up about somewhere like BM.

    Lizzie - I should know better as 'muggle-style' pork belly often disappoints when compared to Chinese-style! F&W do some really great stuff but I can't recall whether I've had their roast pork sarnie - I must check it out next time I go.

    Gworm - early is best although I'm not sure I can make it quite as early as you! By the same token, if you get to Brindisa by around 11.30, you won't have to wait long for your sarnie. Good tip on the wild boar sausage sarnie too!

    bron - not much love at all being shown to Roast! Looks like Winstone is getting a metaphorical beating! Thanks too for the other snack tips.

  12. I 'worked' in the area a few years ago and used to partake of that Roast pork bap, it was absolutely gorgeous. Sad to hear of its demise AND THAT IT IS NOW £6!!!!!!!!!!!! Ouch

  13. Damon - welcome! A shame but it wouldn't be the 1st time that a place went downhill. But I may have been unlucky but at £6 a pop, I'm not going to see if my 1st impressions are wrong! Great FA Cup blog by the way - keeping it real at grassroots!