Cheese toasties will never go out of fashion. This classic hot sandwich has evolved from Breville-scalloped pockets of molten cheddar and beans through to golden artisan sourdough pressed with multiple varieties of cheese. They’re a staple of the street food market, ever-present on Instagram, and a hit on pub, cafe, and restaurant menus all over London. Accept only the best.Read More
The Ultimate Guide to Cheese Toasties in London
1. Cheese and ham toastie at Jolene
The third opening from Jeremie Cometto-Lingenheim and David Gingell of Primeur and Westerns Laundry is a bakery, so it’s practically law to serve a toastie. Bread here is made with a mixture of grains including spelt and rye from their farms in Gascony and Sussex. The two-cheese filling (Montgomery cheddar and Westcombe cheddar curds) is enriched with a mustardy bechamel, and topped with Jamón de Teruel. On the side, a pile of knobbly cornichons for necessary acidic pit stops.
2. Cacio e pepe toastie at Wine and Rind
Wine n Rind’s Holly Chaves has taken inspiration from London’s favourite Roman pasta dish and stuffed a mixture of pecorino, mozzarella, and black pepper into a Breville-pressed toastie. It’s a stroke of borderline genius and one of the best toasties in existence. Chaves also knows that generous filling enhances the chance of overspill during toasting, which means the sauce seeps out to form a crisp, lacy skirt.
3. Tandoori paneer tikka club at Brigadiers
Find this stunning Indian take on the hotel classic club on the Brigadiers Saturday brunch menu. Inspired by chef Shanti Bhushan’s favourite tiffin snack at school the sandwich includes paneer two ways: marinated and sliced with mint chutney, and paneer ‘bhurjee’ (grated) with a spiced, tangy sauce. Eat it with the Tropical Cyclone mango IPA or a mimosa made with clementine sherbet and sparkling wine for maximum effect.
4. Three-cheese toastie at Kappacasein Dairy
London’s most famous toastie is served swiftly from a hatch at Borough Market, rustled into a white paper bag. Poilane sourdough is sliced thinly and clamped around heaps of grated Montgomery cheddar, Comte, and importantly Ogleshield, a washed rind (Raclette-like) cheese developed by Kappacasein owner Bill Oglethorpe. Diced leeks, red onion, and crushed garlic add further excitement. Its popularity is justified.
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5. Tuna and olive panuozzo at Theo's
Theo’s makes some of the best pizzas in London, and at lunchtime it serves panuozzo, which are sandwiches made from the same charred, bouncy dough. Somehow, Theo’s has taken the concept of the tuna melt and made it into an excellent lunch. Fillings change, but this is a Camberwell branch classic — Ortiz tuna, mozzarella, black olives, and its famously addictive house-made chile sauce.
6. Stilton, bacon, and pear chutney toastie at the Cheese Truck
There are many cheese toastie trucks, but this one — and its outrageous, sloppy sandwiches — stands out. The most fun is to be had with the Cropwell Bishop Stilton, sweet-cured back bacon and pear chutney sandwich, a riot of salty, sweet, and tangy flavours. The bread is from Bread Bread in Brixton, based on an Italian pagnotta and made with white and rye flour to ensure even browning. Importantly, it has a tight crumb to prevent the cheese from leaking. This attention to detail means it sells around 1,500 every month.
7. Cheese, ham, and pickle toastie at Cora Pearl
Is this the daintiest toastie in London? Inspired by chef George Barson’s childhood memories of toasted ham sandwiches with Branston pickle, it may look small and simple but is actually hours in the making. The cheesy element is a ganache enriched with Guinness, while the ham comes in the form of shredded smoked hock and jowls. A sauce made from pork bones completes the sandwich. On the side, he’s swapped the Branston for a tangy homemade pickle.
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8. Three-cheese and mustard toastie at the Wigmore
At the other end of the scale is London’s largest cheese toastie (probably) at around a foot long (approximately). This beast is layered with Dijon mustard, red onion, cornichons, chives, and an obscene amount of Montgomery cheddar, Ogleshield, and Raclette cheeses. It arrives at the table squished under two cast-iron Netherton Foundry bacon presses, which keep the cheese gooey until every last portion is consumed. Easily enough for two to share, but that’s not to say one inebriated person couldn’t smash it solo.
9. French onion soup toastie at Cellar SW4
The French onion soup toastie is a menu staple at this south London wine bar thanks to St Leonard’s sommelier Donald Edwards, who conceived it while working there. Caramelised onions meet Comte and a generous slick of Bovril, for all-important beefiness. Eat it with a glass of the Le Grappin Beaujolais nouveau. A modern classic.
10. Croque monsieur at Levan
Peckham locals are lapping up Nicholas Balfe’s bistro-style menu, especially the classic croque monsieur. Country-style white bread from neighbouring Brickhouse bakery is layered with Flock & Herd Gloucester Old Spot ham, Cantal cheese from Provisions, 18-month-aged Comte, and a double layer of bechamel seasoned with bay, black pepper, and nutmeg. It’s a beautiful, bronzed hulk of a thing which ought really to be made into ‘madame’ with an egg.
11. Broccoli and Stracchino Allpress Espresso Roastery & Cafe
The sandwiches at Allpress deserve more attention. Springy Dusty Knuckle focaccia is loaded with delicate, creamy Stracchino cheese from Lombardy, tenderstem broccoli, and wild rocket. The real secret here though is the butter, seasoned with anchovies, lemon, chile, thyme, and parsley — a melange of essential salty-savouriness. A final flourish of extra-virgin olive oil and Maldon salt completes one of London’s most satisfying toasties.
12. Hamish Macbeth at Deeney's Cafe
Like a Scottish patty melt, the Hamish Macbeth makes use of haggis to provide a spiced, meaty dimension to the classic toastie. The use of granary bread is a departure from the toastie norm but works well with the cheddar, caramelised onions, and smoked bacon. There’s mustard too for that all-important kick. Be warned, however: With spiced offal and cheese comes much richness.
13. Cheddar, leek, and red onion toastie at Fernandez & Wells
Fernandez and Wells was serving excellent sandwiches to Londoners when it was still pretty thin on the ground. It was also certainly one of the first to serve the now-familiar thinly sliced Poilane sourdough stuffed with at least an inch of Montgomery cheddar, leek, and finely diced red onion. It’s simple, it’s fantastic, it’s a true London classic.