"It's not much but it's ours"

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


I realised on Monday that I had spent almost 90% of the last week in my flat staring at the computer screen working on EATING FOR BRITAIN and other writing assignments. I was going stir crazy and decided to head out for lunch even if I only had an hour to spare.

Recently, someone posted on DH asking where we found out about new places. It was a good question as, quite apart from HP’s extraordinary detective skills and the dozens of P.R e-mails we now receive, it is often just word of mouth or a quick glimpse at one of the food boards which brings a little gem to our attention even if it is right on our doorstep.

Take Assenheim’s 56 on Copthall Avenue. I live less than five minutes walk from this small sandwich bar just off London Wall and would not have given it a second glance but for a rare click on the moribund UK discussion board of

There a poster with the screen name of Howard Long (I am guessing because he is called Howard Long) was enthusing about the grilled chicken served here although he was less taken with the service, which he compared to Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi.

It sounded like it might be worth a try and, by the time I got down there at midday, it also seemed that half of the workers in The City had the same idea as a line was already forming. On the left as I entered, was a standard sandwich bar, nothing to report there. But, in front, where the queue was pointing, rows of polystyrene trays had already been laid out with salad waiting to be filled.

Behind the counter, two men were busy turning chicken on a hot grill and another was taking the orders. Despite Howard’s warning, this was nothing like the ordeal I endured on my one visit to West 55th St and I was merely asked if I wanted dressing on my salad, Tabasco on my chicken and a slightly curious green sauce over the whole lot. I did, said so and was pointed to the cash desk, to where my tray had been passed and asked to cough up my £7. It’s hardly The Krypton Factor.

Most people were taking their meals away desperate to get back to their offices in case their jobs had vanished in the ten minutes they were gone. I had a whole half hour to linger, so sat at the one small counter to examine my food.

Well, it’s certainly not the prettiest plate, er tray of food I have ever encountered, but then again I always think that the cheffy notion that you “eat with your eyes” is total bollocks and the best food I have ever tasted was often not much to look at.

On that basis, the chicken at Assenheim’s 56 is wonderfully messy fun. The salad can be discounted, not least because it had bits of raw pepper in it, a total no-no. The red rice is a harmless distraction, but this is all about the chicken. £7 does not get you a lot, but the small portion was moist and delicious with a charred crust dotted with flecks of Tabasco and that lurid green sauce turned out to be quite nice, flavoured as I think it was with lots of coriander, parsley and garlic. It certainly made an agreeable difference from my usual bowl of New Covent Garden chicken soup.

By the time I left, the sandwich bar was still as busy as when I had arrived with workers wanting to sample an alternative to all the chains offerings that litter The City’s streets and the staff were well into the groove of their obviously well practiced routine as they dealt with everyone efficiently.

HP who used to call this neck of the woods his “manor” tells me that the Square Mile is dotted with lots of curious places like this so, given that I am going to be stuck in the flat for a few months longer doing this here writing lark, any other suggestions would be most welcome. IN the meantime, Assenheim's 56 might just be worth a try.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can i make a recommendation for you? Simpsons tavern at 38 1/2 Cornhill, Ballcourt EC3V 9DR. It's basically an old chop house - dishes have a slightly school dinner air (especially sides and desserts), but the meat is good and well cooked.

service is quirky (old dears who call you darling but are otherwise rude. shared seating - which i'd never tolerate normally. old city boys with red faces).

if you go, the lamb chump chop, with a fried egg on top, side order of bubble and peas. if you're really hungry add a sausage as well. it's not pricey.

its not gastronomy but it is a curiosity.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009 9:28:00 am  
Blogger Hermano 2 said...

Sounds just my thing

I'll give it a whirl



Wednesday, July 22, 2009 9:31:00 am  
Blogger Nick Loman said...

Re: the moribund egullet - where do you prefer to hang out?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009 1:29:00 pm  
Anonymous Harters said...

egullet moribund?

Not if you live outside of London, it ain't. Apart from ongoing threads for my home area around Manchester, it's provided good tips for a recent trip to Brighton and, only in the last 24 hours, several ideas for a forthcoming night in Oxford. I know no other board in the UK with such a span of information.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009 2:58:00 pm  
Blogger Hermano 2 said...

I did not say that Egullet was moribund, although I think it is less useful than once it was. I said the UK board was and , sorry John, any board that seems to average about 20 posts a week when pre-2003 it averaged hundreds strikes me as moribund where ever the few posters a day are writing about.



Wednesday, July 22, 2009 10:05:00 pm  
Blogger Hermano 1 said...

I'm with HS on this.

It may be that food boards, at least here in the UK, have had their day. The traffic all seems to be on Twitter these days.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009 10:17:00 pm  
Anonymous nezbrun said...

I am so sorry that you were not subjected to the wrath of the Chicken Nazi on your visit! It's part of its attraction in a strange way.

On Wednesday I dared to ask the afformentioned uber chicken meister the make up of the infamous green sauce, and you're pretty accurate: coriander, lemon juice and parsley as I remember him saying.

Glad you enjoyed it!

Cheers, Howard

Thursday, July 23, 2009 3:14:00 pm  
Anonymous Todd said...

try Chop'd for yr quickie lunch or "the windmill" which is a pub on tabernacle st.(beer and ambience) but owned by an italian,hence italian food prepared in a tiny kitchen with the best chips in London!(no skins either!)

Thursday, July 23, 2009 5:16:00 pm  
Blogger Hermano 1 said...

Thanks for the recs. We walk past The Windmill quite a lot and we have heard good things about the cooking. Trouble is it doesn't look like the most inviting place to eat, filled as it is with cheap city suits guzzling pissy lager. Do they have a seperate eating area ?


Thursday, July 23, 2009 8:27:00 pm  
Anonymous Silva said...

try G Casella on Salisbury Ct (just off Fleet St.) - have walked miles at lunch for their sandwiches and lunchboxes! Fantastic Italian grub at decent prices.

Friday, July 24, 2009 9:53:00 am  
Anonymous Jimbaud said...

Rather humble I know but I'm very fond of the Chicken Escalope sandwich from City Corner Snack Bar on Middlesex Street opposite Liverpool Street station.

I've always hung onto the idea that this sandwich was an underrated london particular - a hangover (I assumed) from the influx of Italian cafe owners to London in the 50s. Is this a product of my imagination? Can you, in fact, get all over the country?

Anyhow it costs £1.20 and is very tasty.

Friday, July 24, 2009 4:08:00 pm  
Blogger Hermano 2 said...

@Howard - thanks for the tip.

@Harters interesting to see that your link to EG was deleted. Just goes to show what insufferable c**ts the people who run that board still are.

Saturday, July 25, 2009 11:41:00 pm  
Blogger Hermano 1 said...

Heh Heh you'd think they could do with all the posts they could get.


Sunday, July 26, 2009 12:09:00 am  
Anonymous nezbrun said...

Re: deleting of post to here on EGullet

Crikey, you're right.

Why on Earth would EG delete Harter's reply? Suddenly I am rather disenfrancised with them. Time to find another board I think!

Cheers, Howard

Tuesday, July 28, 2009 12:38:00 pm  
Blogger Hermano 1 said...

Any board that wouldn't let the members organise meals without following a set of rules and regs has to be viewed with suspicion. In any case they're following an outdated model. Maybe they should merge the UK board into "Elsewhere in Europe".


Tuesday, July 28, 2009 5:36:00 pm  

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