Our sister site Time Out London recently launched a feature ranking all 32 of the sandwiches available at Pret A Manger, and it caused quite a furore. The thing is, outside of London, Pret's not really that big a deal.
Greggs, on the other hand, is. These lunchtime saviours and hangover banishers have been keeping the population of this fair country well stocked in pastry-wrapped deliciousness for years, and over that time we've built up something of a fondness for them.
Now, for the first time ever*, the Greggs savoury selection has been sampled and ranked; now, once and for all, there can be no more arguments** about which slice, pastry, pasty, lattice, bake or bridie is best. We know. Read on to find out.
* We have done literally no research to verify this claim.
** There will undoubtedly be arguments. Have your say in the comments.
Pork, apple and stuffing lattice
The Greggs seasonal specials are a mixed bag - for every glorious spicy chicken and chorizo slice, there's an abomination like this. The stuffing is sludge, the pork is non-existent and the apple is cubed asbestos. Thankfully, it's for a limited time only.
With considerable effort, it's possible to make a scotch pie that isn't something you chuck down your gullet and hope for the best. This pie lacks that effort. The mince is slimy and the rock-hard crust will tear your gums.
Cheese and onion pasty
As one of the few Greggs veggie options, this one has a loyal following, but there's no getting around it: cheese and onion is a crime against flavour combinations. It's bad enough in crisp form; this lumpy-custard-like hellion takes that to the next level.
Cheese and onion roll
It's the exact same thing but disguised as a sausage roll. Doesn't make it taste any better, but you get the impression there's less of it, hence the higher ranking.
If diced chicken and gloopy, lukewarm mayo is your idea of a good time, this is the one for you. And we'll be honest - sometimes it's our idea of a good time too. But not often.
Steak and cheese roll
A relative newcomer to the Greggs stable, this young pretender attempts to be a 'new twist' on the classic Philly combo. Sadly, that twist involves replacing traditional provolone with Stilton (seriously - of all the cheeses...) and shredding the beef til it's devoid of any texture. It's still a rich, flavoursome experience, but the method of delivery is lacking.
The macaroni pie (apparently largely unheard except in Scotland and, according to Wikipedia, Trinidad and Tobago) seems like a slam-dunk of an idea - a nostalgia-provoking childhood favourite, encased in a pie crust for easy portability. Sadly, that crust is still hazardous to gums (see our earlier scotch pie comments), but the filling is still spot-on, if you don't mind it being not-quite-al-dente.
The highest-ranking vegetarian option on our list tastes like the solidifed version of that veggie soup your nan used to make, with maybe a sprinkling of extra pepper. It's by turns spicy and comforting, just like nan. Kind of.
Bacon and cheese melt
Picture the scene: Gregg Junior has just concocted a new, hangover-destroying cheese, bacon and pastry combo - but he doesn't have enough pastry for the top layer! 'Not to worry, son,' says Gregg Senior with a wise old twinkle in his eye, 'just fold it over, pop it in the oven and you'll have a perfectly servicable turnover. Oh, and mind add loads of salt to it.' Combine with Irn Bru for optimum revivifying effect.
Another regionally-specific Greggs offering (do they have Cornish pasties further south, perhaps?), the bridie tastes better than any simple combination of mince, onions and pastry has a right to. One of the few items in the Greggs repertoire that genuinely feels nourishingly good for you.
The classic - nothing special, but then its very basicness (and careful configuration of the flaky-to-greasy pastry ratio) is what makes the sausage roll an everyman's favourite.
Sausage, cheese and bean melt
Now this is just a masterpiece in breakfast engineering. While the sauce in other Greggs slices errs on the side of thickness, this viscous tomato-and-baked-bean mixture absolutely nails the formula, no doubt aided by the binding qualities of well-melted cheese. Some structural support in the shape of several processed sausages brings the whole thing together nicely.
The chicken bake we checked off earlier suffered from a lack of chunkiness; this hearty number couples some satisfyingly meaty beefy bits with a rich (but not too thick) gravy. Delish.
There are two schools of thought on the above picture:
(a) our photographer was so overcome by the combination of chicken, bacon, sage & onion stuffing, gravy and cranberry & red onion relish that he couldn't restrain himself and devoured it before he knew what he was doing; or
(b) it's not Christmas so we couldn't get hold of one. Whichever one you believe (it's the second one), we know we're far from alone in declaring the Festive Bake king of the Greggs savoury range - as far as we're aware, it's the only such product to have inspired its own Facebook group and Iceland product line. We're already counting the sleeps til Christmas.