An American tries Greggs for the very first time
‘It scarred me for life – I’m sticking to Wendy’s’
Coming to the UK, I had briefly heard of the place. It sounded like a convivial and good-hearted joint that was perhaps a little above your typical fast food restaurant. I was trying to think of the American equivalent, but couldn’t quite my finger on it.
“It’s our number one go to,” my friends told me, and my mouth was starting to water up. From what I’d heard, Greggs offered baked goods with all kinds of succulent fillings – steak, chicken, sausages, cheese. The pastry was crispy, the doughnuts sweet and delicious, even the sandwiches were good. They say it’s the holy grail of casual lunchtime food, all leading to the acclaimed “steak bake”. This was a place that could satisfy any craving, and all at a very low cost.
Little did I know that I’d be tasting some of the most deplorable food on the planet. Sorry Brits, I know you love Greggs, but my first taste of your institutional go-to bakery was traumatic.
The Beef and Vegetable Pasty
I started with the “Beef and Vegetable Pasty.” It smelt good, and it looked decent. The pastry glistened and I was expecting something similar to an empanada, one of my favourite dishes, stuffed with savoury meat and fresh, crunchy vegetables carefully chosen and seasoned.
I was disappointed, to say the least. It was alright, but it wasn’t not terrible – a little tasteless and lacking the promised crunch. It was warm and mushy, and made me think of food you’d give a baby if you wanted to make it cry, only more insipid. It also tasted nothing like beef or vegetable, or anything edible. 4/10.
The Chicken Bake
My second course was the “Chicken Bake.” Once you got past the crusty outer layer, the innards looked like vomit. The texture was even worse than the previous dish, as if that were even possible. As I took the first bite, I made the mistake of looking inside the pastry. The inside appeared as if cheese and chicken had been tossed into a blender, wrapped in pastry and shoved into the oven – which in fairness it probably was. It’s not even the food you’d turn to if you had the munchies. It’s the type of dish that makes you wonder why we have taste buds. A mediocre 3/10, and at that point I thought I had hit rock bottom.
The Steak and Stilton Roll
But I truly underestimated the power of Greggs cuisine. When I ordered the “Steak and Stilton Roll,” I was actually trying to order a regular sausage roll. I was told the sausage roll was up there with the steak bake – but like a bloody idiot, I didn’t actually read the little signs and ended up ordering a roll that simply looked like a sausage wrapped in pastry.
I will never forget this roll, as the mere thought of it now makes me gag. There are no words in the English dictionary capable of properly capturing the repugnancy of this steak-stilton roll, but I’ll give it a try. If the beef-vegetable pasty and the chicken bake were to make a baby, it’d be the steak-stilton roll. If I were to eat the regurgitated material a vulture feeds its fledgling, it’d be the steak-stilton roll. I’m sure there are great things about this dish, but none of them are gastronomic. One of the single most absurd and disgusting dishes I’ve ever come across. Even a dumpster would throw it up. A resounding 0/10.
The Steak Bake
Everything that came after that was bound to be better. I couldn’t judge the rest of the course objectively because I had nearly lost my spirits and was sure that my taste buds had committed suicide. But the following course was to be my saving grace – it couldn’t get any worse and the Steak Bake was the fan favourite.
It’s flavour was too strong and artificial, its ingredients explosive enough to recreate Hiroshima and equally as hot. I’m not sure how my stomach is supposed to digest it, not sure it ever will, but let’s give it some credit, it almost took my mind off the roll. Once I’d waded through the cement like gravy and found the meat, it was manageable A solid 5/10 for you steak bake. Thanks for helping through that difficult time.
The Sausage and Bean Melt
Finally came the “Sausage and Bean Melt,” comparable to the roll but let’s not go that far. It tasted like shit, looked like shit, and tasted like shit. I couldn’t take more than a bite, it reminded me of the roll too much. 2/10. And it tasted like shit. Couldn’t retreat a dish this horrible if I tried.
That was it for me. “Too much Greggs, kills the Greggs,” as the old saying goes. In my case, too much Greggs, can kill Jeremy. I love London and its cuisine, but if there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that Chef Gusteau was wrong; not everyone can cook. I left feeling stodgy, weighed down by the cholesterol and the gooey innards of several baked goods.
My trip to Greggs was memorable; it opened my eyes on a new, unique kind of gastronomy. Until today I had no idea that there existed chicken that tasted nothing chicken and that food could scar you for life.