Once you work your way through the crowds, one of the best sandwiches in London resides in Borough Market at The Gourmet Goat
Borough Market. Too expensive, right? Too touristy? Wrong on both counts. Yes, it is possible to drop a lot of money – I might as well set up a Direct Debit to Neal’s Yard Dairy, Mrs King’s Pies, and the Comte stand – but quality costs (increasingly so) and I’d argue blind that you’re still getting value for money.
And yes, if you visit on a Saturday lunchtime, you’ll be negotiating your way around the crowds grabbing free samples, photographing the dead rabbits and attempting to Instagram Bread Ahead’s legendary doughnuts, but they’re easily avoided if you shop early.
With more of the market now permanent, you also have the option to go earlier in the week. Avoiding the weekend masses is a good reason for doing this. The “lunch line” – the parade of takeaway options near Southwark Cathedral – is a better reason. And Gourmet Goat – tucked in that little alley behind Brindisa – is the best reason of all.
I first met founders Nick and Nadia Stokes when they were trialling their dishes at my regular Sunday morning hangout, the Alexandra Palace Farmers Market. As the name suggests, goat meat is the focus and, having been addicted to the goat wrap at the sadly demised Mooli’s in Soho, I was delighted to find an alternative.
Their slow-cooked goat was delicious, the pita was the best I’d ever had – Nadia explained that coming from Cyprus, she’d searched long and hard for the best possible bread to use – and the “zhug”, a hot, green, herby sauce of exceptional power and flavour, was so good, I bought it by the pot load for leftovers and sandwiches at home.
Over the last few years, the operation has evolved considerably, picking up a huge number of awards en route to this now permanent home. The bread is now made by a refugee women’s program at E5 Bakehouse and is even better than before. The slow roast option is now rose veal, the goat comes in kofta form, there’s grilled mature halloumi (a million miles from “squeaky cheese”), all of the above are now available as wraps or pilaf bowls, and there are excellent East Med salad options too. They’re all exceptionally good but my soft spot is still, and probably always will be, the goat.
I could bang on about the healthy nature of what Nick and Nadia – and their excellent staff – are doing (goat is incredibly lean and has high protein and iron content), their commitment to sustainability (they were very swift to remove single-use water bottles as a drink option) and their use of high welfare British meat but, for the most part, what swings it for me is that it’s exceptional value for money – you can reasonably expect a decent amount of change from a tenner – and it’s a really, really good sandwich. If I was the sort of person sad enough to keep a top ten of London sandwiches (and I am, so I do), Gourmet Goat’s is usually somewhere near the number one spot.