For this instalment of Tastes of Faversham we sent our tasters out in pursuit of the best bacon sarnie in town. It is regularly voted the nation’s favourite dish, but what makes the perfect bacon butty? Should you use brown sauce or tomato ketchup? Should the bacon be grilled or fried, back or streaky? And what’s best: toast or bread? For me it has to be thickly sliced, soft white bread spread with butter, and a generous filling of grilled, thick-cut, well-cured bacon and roasted garlic tomatoes. I’m a big fan of Oscar’s white bread and Macknade’s molasses-cured bacon.
Our team of tasters sampled sandwiches at Faversham’s 12 café’s and takeaway shops during the second half of August. Attention was given to the following areas:
The sandwich – bread (type, freshness, doughiness etc), type of bacon (thickness, rind texture, taste), extras (butter, tomato ketchup etc)
The experience (friendliness of staff, cleanliness, social distancing, environment etc)
Value for money.
In this round of Tastes of Faversham we have three joint winners: The Yard for their quality sourdough sandwich, Havishams for a good all-rounder and Fillers for excellent value for money. Upstairs Downstairs was also highly commended.
We also tried the burger van on the Brents and the café in Shelter, but they are both currently closed. Macknade and the Courtyard at Brogdale do not offer a bacon sandwich.
In alphabetical order:
Annette’s Baguettes, Court Street
A miserable Tuesday lunchtime and Storm Francis is doing its best to keep everyone indoors. Tensions are running high at home, so it seems like the perfect time to bring some bacon sarmony into our house.
Good social-distancing measures, the service is friendly and quick, and we’re offered a bag to keep our baguettes dry. Back home the sandwiches were divided equally between the baconoisseurs.
Annette’s baguette was good and fresh, but the bread to bacon ratio was perhaps a bit high – maybe a bit unfair to judge it as such, seeing as we chose to bring a baguette to a sandwich fight. Given the size of the offering, it was good value at £3.95.
Overall mark: 8/10
The Café By the Creek, Oare Creek
The menu for this newly opened café lists a bacon bap/roll, but on request they were very happy to make me a sandwich. The white bread was standard, pre-packaged supermarket sliced variety – but it was thick sliced and very fresh – so served its purpose. It arrived surprisingly quickly. The fat on the regular back bacon wasn’t too plentiful and it was well cooked but not too crispy (which I prefer). I was offered sachets of sauce – not a brand known to me. Both bacon and sauce tasted OK and for £3 it was good value for money.
The sandwich itself wasn’t mind-blowing but it is the setting of the Café By the Creek that makes it well worth a visit. It makes the most of its great location with plenty of outside tables from which to enjoy the views of creek and boats. The staff were extremely friendly and polite, and the café was spotlessly clean. Tables were set in line with social distancing and hand sanitisers were clearly available.
Overall mark: 7.5/10
Cosgroves, Preston Street
First time in here and, all in all, quite pleasing. When ordering my sandwich, the waitress gave me the option of brown or white bread. I was then seated outside and given a serviette-wrapped knife and fork. I was mystified at first, but the sandwich arrived with a small salad garnish, so all became clear. It was served on a warm plate, which was off-putting, but the sandwich itself was fine. The seeded bread was freshly cut and the bacon was perfectly cooked, with just the right amount of rind crispiness.
Overall, great service and terrific sandwich but I didn’t like having a salad garnish on a warm plate. Fairly priced at £4.25.
Overall mark: 8/10
Fay’s Place, Court Street
This ‘old school’ café is also known to locals as Bush’s Café, which was its name back in the day. It is now kitted out with Covid screens, but there’s a warm welcome from behind them. You get the feeling that Fay’s is offering something more than just food – there's a sense of warmth and community that is clearly valued here.
The sandwich was of the classic thick-cut, white-sliced variety and was generously baconed, but it lacked the flavour of some of the other sandwiches sampled. For the bargain price of £2.50 you can’t really complain.
Overall mark: 8/10
Fillers, Whitstable Road
Before bringing home the bacon there’s one last call: Fillers on Whitstable Road. Again, the service is good and the staff are friendly. As far as I could see, it is one of the few places where contactless payments are possible.
The sandwich was prepared with classic white-sliced bread and compared with some of the other establishments the bacon had the edge – thick and tasty with a bit more of the essential fat and a good griddled taste. The bread was pillowy-soft and of better quality than expected. Overall, I was impressed with the quality and value for the bargain price of £2.50.
Overall mark: 9/10
Havishams, Court Street
I ordered my sandwich with a choice of bread and “brown sauce?”. Any waitress worth their salt knows that brown is the ONLY sauce to decorate a bacon sarnie. That is excellent service, right there.
Less than five minutes passed before delivery (it was a Sunday, admittedly) and I was presented with a plump-looking sarnie with a garnish. The seeded wholemeal bread was fresh, like it had been made that day, and the chef has nailed the art of cooking bacon to perfection. Smoky and juicy, with just the outer rind being crispy, rather than all of it. A perfect bacon sandwich for £4.95
Overall mark: 9.5/10
Kitchen at Oscars, Preston Street
The newly revamped Kitchen at Oscars still serves their delicious selection of freshly baked bread, but there is now a varied selection of snacks and decent coffee to take out. Rather than offer a traditional bacon sandwich, you can have either a Kentish huffkin (a traditional flatbread roll with a dimple in the top, £2.75) or a ciabatta roll (£3.50).
The shop was busy and the service was a little rushed. The huffkin was a bit lacklustre but the bacon was medium cut and nicely cooked. However, the Americano was excellent.
Overall mark: 7.5/10
The Moonlight Café, Preston Street
To make sure I’d be up for a bacon sarnie I squeezed in an extra pint before closing time the night before. Outside seating is available in the back garden (smoking permitted). As usual, the place is spotless with friendly, prompt staff.
The bacon sarnie (£3.10) and tea (£1.40) came in good time. The tea arrived with the bag still dunked, which I like, as it allows you to achieve the correct level of brew. The sarnie: white bread was of reasonable quality but I would have liked it cut slightly thicker to maintain the optimum ratio to sauce. The bacon was nicely cooked, with rind on and not too salty, evidenced by the fact that I wasn’t craving another cup of tea an hour later. There were good-quality sauces available on the table.
Overall mark: 7/10
The Secret Garden Café, Standard Quay
The café has plenty of space, with tables inside as well as outside in the large courtyard. Even though it was busy because of the government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme, the order came quickly. A decent sandwich with your bog-standard sliced white bread, thick-cut bacon and a side of salted crisps. I would have preferred the bread to be buttered rather than spread with a film of marg, but otherwise it did what it says on the tin.
The sandwich was moderately priced at £4.50 and a cup of tea at £2.
Overall mark: 7/10
The Swan Café, Market Street
The staff were pleasant enough, although not overly welcoming. My sandwich soon arrived and consisted of two slices of back bacon on some regular, pre-packaged, thick-sliced white bread – it was perfectly fresh. The bacon was well cooked; a little bit salty for my palate, but at only £3 it was good value for money. However, the sandwich was let down by a poor selection of condiments. All sauces are available on the tables in refillable plastic squeezy bottles, but the “tomato sauce” was a light-red colour with only a faint taste of tomato.
Apart from this issue, my experience was enjoyable: an ideal place to sit and people-watch. It is clean and well presented and, at £4.20 for a bacon sandwich and mug of tea, reasonable value for money.
Overall mark: 6.5/10
Upstairs Downstairs Vintage Tea Rooms, West St
After a bit of a wait the bacon sandwich appeared freshly prepared on a china plate. It was served on thick-cut brown bread and was mercifully lightly spread with something approaching butter. Brown sauce was provided without my asking. The back bacon was of high quality and properly cooked.
The service was cheerfully friendly and slightly amateur, which added to the charm of the place.
My overall impression was extremely favourable and I would certainly risk another visit.
The sandwich cost £3.
Overall mark: 8.25/10
The Yard, Preston St
The Yard bacon sandwich consisted of four slices of good-quality, local, smoked streaky served on sourdough with some salad leaves and cherry tomatoes on the side. The bacon was extremely tasty with the right balance of rind to meat and cooked to the perfect level of crispiness. I’m not normally a fan of sourdough but it was extremely good. Almost converted!
I was offered a variety of condiments and opted for tomato sauce, which was from an artisan brand that I hadn’t seen before. It was very nice with lovely flavours, but, personally, I would have preferred some good old Heinz.
The recent refurb of the Yard is very impressive and lends itself to social distancing. The measures put in place, including a one-way system, were clearly explained to us by the lovely Charlene.
At £5.75, the Yard sandwich is one of the more expensive you will find in town – but the quality is undeniable and well worth the price.
Overall mark: 9/10