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Best of Three: Paninis

This time: It's just a posh toastie, so how hard can it be to find a good 'un? Well, you never know...

Published on January 14th 2010.

Best of Three: Paninis

DOWN the years, the posh toastie has had many guises. It started off in caffs the land over as just plain Welsh rarebit. Britain marched on it to build empires and win wars, and, but for the influence of Johnny Foreigner it would have have stayed that way (that's enough rabid Daily Mail intro, ed).

Happily, the French turned it into croque monsieur for The Good Life market in the 1970s, the 1980s saw sales of toasted sarnie makers rocket; by the 1990s it was the sub, from the States, that we seemingly couldn't get enough of our laughing gear around.

The 21st century posh toastie is called a panini and everyone is doing them, with varying degrees of success: It's Italian, it's olive oil ciabatta and pesto drizzles, and it even sparked a whole stylish youth culture (the paninaro in Milan, who the Pet Shop Boys even wrote a song about). We just get scallies, but at least we can eat like Robert de Niro's waiting.

Where: The Piazza, Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral, Mount Pleasant. 0151 707 3536

What: Chicken and pesto panini

How much? £4.35

The panini: Nothing special to write home about in terms of taste or texture, but fresh and inoffensive enough otherwise.

The filling: Was what made it stand out from the others. Huge slabs of moist chicken breast protruded from every side of the bread, speckled with drizzles of pesto in just the right proportions and had neither made the bread soggy or impaired the flavour of the meat.

A bit on the side: A lot on the side. A big, colourful salad of mixed bag leaves, including the ubiquitous rocket, and red and yellow pepper slices, cucumber and a wedge of tomato that was absent in flavour, literally “letting the side down”.

Overall: Looking good, especially if you are feeling virtuous (and isn't that what cathedrals are about?).

Verdict: 6/10 – Holy toast!

Where: Caffe Nero, Branches around Liverpool including Bold Street and Castle Street.

What: Spicy meatball and mozzarella panini.

How much: £3.75

The panini: This was quite chewy and kept our tester silent for quite some time. So much so that we were quite alarmed. On further venturing into the panini, however, it was all change and had gone from crisp and nondescript to soggy and unpleasant owing to the seepage of the all-encompassing tomato sauce.

The filling: Frankly, a fairly heavy, congealed mixture of tomato sauce, which lacked any discernible flavour, coating a number of flaccid meatballs. Did we detect a hint of chilli? Yes. More than a hint of meat in the savoury binding? Not sure. All smothered in thick, thick mozzarella.

A bit on the side? Nothing. Thankfully.

Overall: Had our tester rushing off somewhere, back to the cathedral, they reckoned, to repent.

Verdict: 4/10 – Whatever happened to Welsh rarebit?


Where: The Italian Club, 85 Bold St, Liverpool, L1 4HF .0151 708 5508

What: Mozzarella, tomato and basil panini

How much: £4.75

The panini: The bread that this came in was so soft and sweet and with such a good texture, that it was good enough to eat by itself.What's inside? Good quality mozzarella, and plenty of it, had been set upon by an avalanche of ultra sweet cherry tomatoes that had simply been cut in half, sprinkled with basil leaves, some torn, some left whole, and drizzled with olive oil. That was it.

Bit on the side? Nothing

Overall: Simple but delicious, owing to the quality of the ingredients.

Verdict: 8/10. Italian style

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13 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

DigOctober 21st 2008.

What's a panini? Is it anything like a punani? Forgive my ignorance.I've heard my brothers talking of 'eatin punani'. But not panini' I'm confused now.

Reg SarneyOctober 21st 2008.

How very arty, this is also the theme to Melvyn Blog's South Bank Show. Variations on a Theme by Panini.

dannyOctober 21st 2008.

The best in my oppinion is on the wirral. Panino over in moreton. Also has the best coffee on either side of the water.

Rusty SpikeOctober 21st 2008.

Just goes to show yer. For years I thought 'panini' was a section of an orchestra; sat just behind the timpani lot who seem to bang triangles and thump kettle drums. For years, I couldn't quite figure out what the panini musos did but reckoned they might have waved football rattles or blew whistles. Imagine my surprise when I first read that people were eating them. I thought I was in a nightmare induced by cheese and the thought of folk trying to then chomp on a symbol made me grimace...Thank goodness its a sandwich, that's all I can say.

Cock endsOctober 21st 2008.

recession? what recession? this is the cozy bubble that is Liverpool where 20 new restaurants opened just two weeks ago. They'll know it when COC ends!!!!!!

EbenezaOctober 21st 2008.

£4.75 for a grilled cheese and tomato sarnie!? The world has gone mad. Saying that - I've eaten in the Italian club several times and their food is good - but £4.75 for a.......

L'homme sur l'omnibus de GarstonOctober 21st 2008.

Préemballé? Pah! Ils étaient sur commande! Peut-être vous pensez à un autre établissement?£4.75 for a cheese and tomato sarnie? Phew! Whatever happened to the recession?

Mr DunnyOctober 21st 2008.

The best ciabattas and Paninis can be found at the cafe in FACT. Brie and Bacon or Salami and cheese, lovely!!!

Edelweiss PirateOctober 21st 2008.

Mass redundancies at the Kulturkampf Company and vain, bungling politicians put on public trial, we Council Tax payers can only hope...

DigOctober 21st 2008.

What is the plan when CoC ends? Wasn't that discussed at the meeting on Thursday with that stupid boffin Leunig? Maybe Larry can enlighten us. Come on Larry spill the beans, meatballs and cherry tomatoes. I know this has mixed 2 articles but what the hell. I'll double up!

GET ON THISOctober 21st 2008.

DIG'S DATE IS ON THE HOME PAGE.blimey days she is fab.

DigOctober 21st 2008.

I was very disallusioned earlier in the year. I think the 2nd half has been particularly good. Although I may have been corrupted by The Biennial and other events that would have happened regardless. I really enjoyed the whack a mole stand with Ringo and Pete Price and John Bishop. Or did I imagine that?

Croak MonsieurOctober 21st 2008.

Petit Delice is a prepacked chain of paninis from a factory. Nice, if you like that sort of thing.

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