Greggs, All London
Greggs is the largest bakery chain in the United Kingdom with over 1,700 stores. Even in London it dominates the Zomato category with a search yielding 187 rated locations. It’s very unfussy food, with cheap offerings and simple, comfort food category treats. Over my eight months in London I’ve frequented quite a few Greggs in my time and no doubt most Londoners do.
I like Gregg’s as it easy coin, they do pastries, and they usually pop in convenient locations. I guess when you have that many stores that tends to be the case. Greggs was first founded in 1939 by one John Gregg as a bakery in the conurbation of Tyneside. Major expansion started for Greggs when ownership was passed down to his son, who acquired many other bakeries along the way. The Greggs brand took a turn in 2013 when they decided to opt out of the bakery angle and focus on being a “food to go” venue, as they could no longer compete with the supermarkets. As well, this side of the business became the majority of their sales.
Greggs are harder to find in the central city of London – Sainbury’s Local becomes the Greggs in these hubs. You can can’t really find a cheaper lunchtime “meal deal” other than the supermarkets. I alway find myself veering towards the pastries section at Greggs. This is the closest thing that I can get to a “pie” from back home. Instead the savoury fillings are what the brits call “slices”. A much smaller amount of filling encased in two squares of puff pastry. The sausage rolls (99p) are all filled with pork rather than beef. This is also jarring. But get used to it, as it is the norm in this country and it’s not too bad.
I had thought they stored the pastries in a warmer, but now I’m beginning to think it’s a normal, non-heated cabinet. That hypothesis is due to the temperature of the pastries varying wildly. If you’re super sweet the staff member might nip into the back for a fresh one out of the oven, otherwise it’s hit and miss if it’s hot. The slices (including chicken, beef, cheese and onion) kill off any savoury craving. You can even buy frozen ones from Iceland so you can relive the joy at home too. It’s alright, especially for the sub £1.50 price. I do wish it was less pastry and more filling like a pie from back home. Tastes a little out of the packet (well, it is), rather than something that was handmade.
I wasn’t such a fan of the Greggs Belgian bun. This is so heavy and the icing is so sugar laden I could taste the diabetes. I extracted out as much of the topping as I could and the cinnamon bun left over is passable. Not sure if this is how the bun is meant to be as it hasn’t popped up in any of the other cities that I’ve resided in. On the other hand, if you zap it in the microwave it almost becomes a Cinnabon. Almost.
On the other hand, the banoffee donut is much more successful. The donut is light without the over the top sweetness of the frosting being too overwhelming. I haven’t photographed any of my sandwiches/ rolls, but I have got them on occasion too. They’re nice and cheap as well, like everything as Greggs. But you kind of see that when you open it all up. The quality is lower than Pret and there’s not so much of it. The few pieces of chicken made me think I was eating a salad roll. Super cheap too if you get it with a drink as a meal. Worth heading in if you’re needing a transactional type of lunchtime.