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Life’s little things: bacon butties

Mark Jorgensen starts an occasional series road testing the modest food delights which make life worth living

Published on November 11th 2010.

Life’s little things: bacon butties
Open minded as you may be to food and drink, it’s the small home comforts which can bring about the food fascist in nearly all of us. You could be perfectly happy to go to a restaurant and pick something which sounds delicious, allowing the chef the artistic freedom to present a dish completely of his own creation.

I have a serious quirk when it comes to bacon, it must be prepared exactly as I require. Every time I get someone else to make it, I prefix my request with ‘well-done’ as a matter of religious habit and stark warning. I’ve lost count of the times I then receive what looks to be a hunk of briefly flash-fried hog chucked on a bap.

Personally, I’d like an international protocol for bacon introduced akin to steak. When you get a steak you will always be asked how you want it cooked and this exchange negates any issues of personal taste.

Therefore, I wanted to test Manchester’s breakfast swine merchants to see if they appreciated the importance of getting this simple request right.

The two selected places are Froth on Cross Street and La Piazza on Little Quay St. My standard request at each was, “May I have a bacon barm, red sauce and (sternly)...can I have the bacon well done please.”

Froth attempt
Froth, £2.75 for bacon barm and a brew
First, the chap went into the back to cook the bacon as ordered so it was a good start. However, there were several errors. The bacon to barm ratio was all wrong. A huge, air-filled barm with a couple of slices of admittedly well-done bacon laying lonely in the middle. I therefore had to re-shuffle their alignment to make the sandwich serviceable but was still left with excess bread.

Secondly, the bacon itself was very very poor. Reminiscent of the kind of bacon you’d get in a pre-made supermarket butty so no amount of suitable toasting will mask this. Thirdly, it was lazily smeared with a slither of.....brown sauce. Not red. Very wrong. Also I know this wasn’t in the test but they completely omitted the sausage from my friend's bacon, egg and sausage sandwich. So, while they got the bacon roasting correct, everything else was all wrong.

Rating: 4/10

La Piazza gives it a go
La Piazza, £1.95 for a bacon barm and a tea
“No problem,” said the very friendly man as he went into the back to get my order. I settled down to read the paper assuming that he would take a little while to come back. I had barely got past the first football match report when my breakfast was ready for collection. That was suspiciously quick. As usual the bacon must have been pre-cooked and ready to be served which means the that chances of getting it cooked as you like it are extremely slim.

Some of the bacon was well done, other parts had large pieces of fat which couldn’t be considered well done under any circumstance and left me picking through trying to remove it. If I have to spend time picking through my breakfast to remove pieces of fat then the attention to requested detail has been overlooked. Two rashers inside a large barm again left the bacon looking like two little piggy islands in the middle of an ocean of bread and there was too much butter which overpowered the sauce.

Rating: 5/10

The results were disappointing and went some way to support me in my theory regarding the tribulations of getting a good bacon sandwich cooked to order. If you know of a perfect bacon butty rant below. This is but a meagre sample of two after all.

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23 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AgricolaNovember 11th 2010.

The bacon butties in Koffee Pot are quite the bees knees

mNovember 11th 2010.

When I lived in the city centre I spent months looking for the best bacon and sausage barm on my way to work.

I found a good sausage is far harder to come by than acceptable bacon. So often they pop like a water bomb in the mouth and have the consistency of mushed rice rather than meat.

I found the best sausage was unfortunately from a chain. Philpotts in the City Tower arcade, at Piccadilly Gardens. Also probably the most expensive.

Another great find is the Scottish lorne/square sausage sold in Baguette express on Mosely Street. It's a Scottish chain and looks pretty unappealing but as far as I know it's the only place in the city centre that will sell Scottish sausage on a barm. It's definitely worth a try as an alternative to the usual bacon/sausage and is a bargin price (£1 I think). Just ask for a square sausage barm.

NeedtoknownbasisNovember 11th 2010.

As a vegetarian I get all my bacon sandwiches from my sneaky stash at the back of the fridge. Shhh

Jemima PuddledickNovember 11th 2010.

It's R Daley Bread on Bootle Street

Clockwork OrangeadeNovember 11th 2010.

The Engine House (Anthony Burgess Foundation) cafe on Cambridge St does a majestic bacon butty: slightly fancy bread (but nothing too excessive), smashing bacon (cooked to order), well-judged butter, proper ketchup. You can feel your arteries narrowing as you eat it, but it's worth it...

NortherngeezerNovember 11th 2010.

Theres no such thing as the perfect bacon butty bought from a shop.....it dont exist and never will.
The only way to achieve perfection, and ultimate nirvana, is to make yer own, exactly how you like it, preferably on a Sunday morning after a night out on the pop.
The selection of ones provender is of paramount importance and is of course, one of personal taste.
Bacon (streaky, back, or for the flash barstewards amongst us, pancetta)
Bread, and its gotta be white(barmcake, bap, or thick sliced Warburtons)
Butter (or god forbid, marg!)
Sauce (red or brown, heinz or daddys or HP).
And lets not get started on things like pepper, or toasted!.
A bought bacon butty is always going to be a compromise, but compromise we must if we are to attain our 'fix' on a regular basis.
Mmmm, roll on Sunday.

Stuart BamberNovember 11th 2010.

Koffee Pot obviously owns. But I can recommend Detox/Retox off Mosley St by the Art Gallery (£2.00 for a nice butty and a brew).

Don Giovannis never let you down either.

Tried a Greggs bap once. Never again. Truy dire.

janineNovember 11th 2010.

The best ever bacon butties are from Cafe Delice, Barlow Moor Road, Didsbury. MMMmmmmmmmmmm

Hobson's ChoiceNovember 11th 2010.

Best breaky sarnie bar none is 'The Cobbler' from Hobsons on Liverpool Road in Castlefield. Bacon/sauage/beans/egg/tomato on a full toasted ciabatta with choice of HP or Ketchup - close on £4 but sets you up for the day !!!

AnonymousNovember 11th 2010.

Thought Hobson's closed some time ago...

Hobson's ChoiceNovember 11th 2010.

Cobblers Anonymous, I was in there this morning !!

AnonymousNovember 11th 2010.

Is Hobson's the one under the bridge, next to the now-closed Saab showroom?

AnonymousNovember 11th 2010.

Oh my god - square sausage? As a Scot who gets square sausage sent down in emergency parcels from up north, I have to check this out!

DescartesNovember 11th 2010.

There are two places that do good bacon in Manchester, first (and by far the king of breakfast barms) is Koffee Pot - no one else comes close.

Bowlers on Albert Square is alright, and so long as you haven't been to Koffee Pot recently you'll love them.

tangledladyNovember 11th 2010.

The place on Fountain Street that used to be Coffee Republic does cracking sausages, PROPER sausages not the processed shit you get in most places and a hot counter infront of you with various breakfast items, very tasty, with tasty prices however. Philpotts at Lowry House is good too and does a good deal with coffee or tea.

BanesNovember 11th 2010.

Ok, firstly, let's differentiate between a "perfect" bacon button (rare-breed smoked bacon, sourdough bread, yadda yadda) and a PROPER bacon butty which is what you want when you're hung-over (cheap, tasty, filling).

Also, as noted above, let's not get prissy about bacon. Even crap bacon tastes pretty darn good (unlike sausages where bad ones are grim beyond belief) so I think the clincher for top-spot depends on bread - you need a barm with decent texture, not that cheap fluffy bread that disintegrates into mush on contact with ketchup etc.

So on all important criteria - decent bacon, cheap price, quick service (noone likes to linger with a hangover), cooked to order fresh, good quality bread, tasty as can be - the winner is Williams sandwich bar off Hilton St. Really good bloody bacon barm, and about £1.50 a pop I think.

Rest of their sandwich stuff is fine, in it's way, but don't be swayed - if you go there then go there for the bacon butties, ideally with a stinking hangover.

RayNovember 11th 2010.

Lorne Sausage? Bring it on! With HP, naturally - ketchup is (for me) an absolute no no with meat. A horrible American invention.

Paul MastersNovember 11th 2010.


Mark JorgensenNovember 11th 2010.

Thanks for the suggestions people! I shall report back with my findings.....
We need to raise our collective trotters and stand together for the sanctity of Manchester's morning sandwiches.

Because it DOES matter.

AnonymousNovember 12th 2010.

Gabriel's Kitchen's bacon butties are amazing too, so I guess they match up with the Cambridge St branch (same people).

NortherngeezerNovember 12th 2010.

Best place in the world for bacon butties bar non.................my house, but they are all mine i say THEY ARE ALL MINE!!!!!!!!

JayNovember 12th 2010.

I have to disagree with the person who said that the bacon butties at the Anthony Burgess are good; they come on ciabatta for god's sake. Oh and they cost about £4.

cocapinaNovember 12th 2010.

in response to Tangledlady. The Place on Fountain street is called Franklins Deli and there's another one at the bottom of spinningfields. The BEST sausages in town by Ken the butcher.

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