Max's / Crouch Hill, London


Doesn't it feel like everything now is served in a brioche dome and is being called a burger? Since when is lumps of duck in a bun a burger? What is wrong with banging stuff between two chunks of bread and calling it a sandwich? Don't panic. There is a new gaff doing exactly that, and doing it really well.

We arrived at the late night sarnie house pleasantly booze-lubed from a couple of lagers to be greeted by the jubilantly rambunctious Max. With only three sandwiches on the menu we decided to tackle them all in the order of Max's discretion. We cracked our cans of Holsten and let the journey begin.

First out was The Spaniard, or The Veggie One: A hulk of a sandwich created by a duo of huge croquettes filled with slow-cooked onions all bechamelled up into a super thick and rich sauce covered with a thin and crispy shell. Sweet herbs added freshness to cut through that richness, as did the sweet-yet-tangy pickled red onions with a touch of lime. Boshed on top is a payload of frankly insane spicy 'morunos' mayonnaise. If these guys bottle and sell this mayo, we will be buying all of it.  

While the first was delightful, the What's Your Beef All About? that followed was abundantly better. The long chunks of slow braised and pulled beef was soft and emanating all of the juice, buttressed by a sloppily flavourful hit from the superb gravy(!) mayo. The gratifying crunch of cornflour-dusted and deep fried broccoli counterbalanced the beefy softness and the spicy sour warmth of the kimchi perforated the creamy savoury notes - brilliant flavour combinations with a relaxed hint of Korean barbecue vibe. 

By this point we knew Max was toying with us, saving his choicest cut until last. The Ham, Egg 'n Chips throws a meal into a sandwich with swagger: shreds of ham hock and a deftly fried egg combine with the sour curry hit of piccalilli and the buttery tang of a mustard and vinegar mayo,  topped with uber-crunchy shoestring fries. It is all parts a classic lazy evening dinner stored in the first-rate homemade focaccia that houses all of the combinations so adroitly.  

A couple of New York Deli-esque openings recently have fallen despairingly short of the large quantities you would expect from them. What you might call the Londonification of portion sizes. Thankfully Max's smashes theirs fuller than a hoarders' cupboard, since these weren't designed to fit on a WW2-era enamel plate.

These are epic sandwiches.

The design of the place is simple and dirt cheap too: window designs are hand drawn, the wooden planks that frame the place are salvaged from pallets, the tables are the ones left by the previous tenants chopped in half and copies of the Metro have actually been put to some use - as papier-mâchéd light shades. The product too comes economically wrapped in greaseproof paper secured by an elastic band.

In aesthetic and quality of product it really does remind us of the first Patty and Bun location in it's infancy, also championed by a dude of fizzing vivacity in Max.

Max's is nestled amongst an otherwise not especial parade of shops at the base of Crouch Hill, just a little bit further up from Stroud Green Road, with numerous Crouch Enders sailing past on the W7 every day.

They need to get off the bloody bus and get in there.  

  • Rob

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