Hunters - artisan sandwiches in Helmsley
PUBLISHED: 13:10 28 April 2014 | UPDATED: 10:44 27 May 2016
Sandwich fillings are not what they used to be. Esther Leach visits one delicatessen where no customer request is ever refused
There’s an art to creating a satisfying sandwich. And it’s not necessarily all about the bread. For many it’s more about the choice of filling and how the ingredients are stacked to create the perfect sandwich.
Hunters, a delicatessen in the market town of Helmsley on the edge of the North York Moors National Park, has earned a reputation for building, yes I think building is the right word, their sandwiches.
Owner Chris Garnett makes less fuss about the bread – ‘a fresh, soft roll is best’ – but instead insists the ingredients for the filling count for everything. ‘Load the roll with meat, the finest beef or ham, fresh horseradish or mustard, some crisp salad, my idea of sandwich heaven,’ says Chris. But like any wise man, he listens to his customers who are invited to choose their own ingredients in any combination to fill their sandwiches.
Chris recalls a request for a stuffed-pepper sandwich which raised an eyebrow or two but an order for a beef and beetroot salad sandwich is no longer unusual; the most popular remains a conservative ham and coleslaw.
Laura Poole who has been making sandwiches at Hunters for about six years says they are very much led by their customers when it comes to deciding which fresh ingredients to order from local suppliers.
‘Our customers can have anything they want, nothing surprises us now,’ says Laura. ‘We usually use soft rolls for our sandwiches but one biker came into the shop and asked for a small white loaf which I sliced into quarters and filled with anchovies and coleslaw. I think that’s probably the most unusual request we’ve had – so far. I would never hesitate to make up a customer’s request but I do sometimes think, for example, that maybe having different meats - ham, pork and beef - in one sandwich probably doesn’t work very well, but people do ask us to make them.’
If there isn’t strictly speaking an art to crafting a sandwich there is a well practiced method at Hunters. ‘A beef and horseradish sandwich for example,’ says Laura, ‘begins with horseradish on the bread, then the salad – crisp lettuce, sliced tomatoes, cucumber whatever the customer wants – then the meat and if the customer is a real horseradish fan, more horseradish topping the meat. The fillings are very deep. We are famous for our deep fillings. We sell more than 50,000 sandwiches in a year,’ she added. Most of the food in the store comes from local growers and suppliers and that includes ingredients for sandwiches. The ham, pork and beef are cooked daily on the premises. Their freshness is vital for quality and customer satisfaction. And the choice of fillings seems endless including delicious chutneys. Add to that a box of salad, a pork pie or a tub of soup and your picnic lunch is more than ready to go.
But could I test Laura’s sandwich making skills and her professional customer courtesy with my own slightly bizarre order? A potato salad with green salad sandwich please. She didn’t blink an eye and my order was swiftly prepared, packed and handed to me as she broke into a huge smile. ‘I bet that’s delicious,’ she says. And she was right.
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