I'm a big fan of sausages. Always have been, always will. But recently I've taken the love a step further, by asking restaurants to serve a sausage on the side with whatever else I'm ordering. And you know what? It's completes any meal perfectly.
The problem is, most restaurants seem to reject the idea of adding a sausage to the main body of the dish at its inception, because they see the dish as complete without. A goat's cheese soufflé is a wonderful creation, but a goat's cheese and sausage soufflé? Possibly too much for some. A goat's cheese soufflé with a sausage on the side, however, is the perfect pairing. No one's committed to mixing their sausage with their goat, but the option's there to ponder for every mouthful.
In my honest opinion, a decent sausage is just about all a man needs in his mouth. And with the ever-increasing range in happy organic, hand reared, spoon-fed and sea salt scrubbed sausages on the market, now is the time to be side ordering yours. Here's a selection of my faves:
Roast, in Borough Market: These sausages make the grand old journey in from Wicks Manor, Essex, which is so close to the restaurant that you can virtually see the piggies playing in their luscious green fields. They're served pretty straight: classic, British, and oozing the 100% meat wow factor. I was here for breakfast recently and felt that the Tattie Scone (bacon, mushroom and egg in a scone type formation) just needed one on the side to finish it off. My date joined in as well, and word on the street is that she now loves a bit on the side too.
The Russet Café, Amhurst Rd, Hackney: This bustling little gem looks & feels like you're eating on an industrial estate. Then again, you are. But where a Wall's sausage might have once been the staple in this neck of the woods, The Ginger Pig sausage now proudly sizzles in the Russet's pan. Ahhh, The Ginger Pig: the bastion of the great British sausage. I'm considering asking for my birthday present to be sausage shaped and from this place. And yes, for the eagle eyed amongst you, that WAS their advert in the X Factor break... who knew.
Morito, Exmouth Market: A tapas twist on the conventional sausage, and luckily no need to worry about the 'on the side' rule here, as they come as their own little dish that's intended for sharing, but in all honesty is better ordered for one. Their Middle Eastern merguez has been spiced to within an inch of its life and tastes the dog's doo dahs for it. Great to eat with a cocktail stick over a glass of fizz whilst saying things like "yah, yah, meeja, I KNOW, yah..."
I HEART Sausage: That's a name, not a statement, and belongs to a mobile sausage stand also known as the Great British Sausage Co. They pop up just about everywhere, from festivals to airport terminals, complete with matching T-Shirts and coffee cup branding overflowing with innuendo. These are the Godfather of all sausages. Long, meaty, served with onions and sauce. There's no side action here as they're the main attraction - be warned, expect to queue.
The Draft House: This little chain of independently owned pubs which have popped up over London are all about great ale, but they serve the best range of sausages to munch on the side over a post work pint. Their Viennese Kaesekrainer is a scrummy variation on the norm, and tastes that much better by the fact that you can't eat it without getting half of it all over your face.
The list goes on but you get my point. A sausage on the side makes for great eating, as well as being a more interesting conversation starter and a sneaky test in customer service. Some restaurants just don't get it, especially when you order a veggie dish with a sausage on the side - that always throws 'em. Sometimes you have to ask pretty hard and justify your reasoning, but trust me; it's always, always worth it.