There’s not a lot I miss about England – I was never much of a one for marmite or excessive politeness. But I do make an exception for jacket potatoes (or “stuffed potatoes” as I’ve been informed they’re known in the US, following blank looks from my American friends at the mention of the word “jacket” in relation to the humble tuber). When I lived in London, I can remember getting takeaway jacket potatoes with baked beans and cheese (my favourite combo) at lunchtime for just a few quid. I can’t even recall where we bought them from now – surely Pret a Manger and Eat don’t sell anything so calorific? But buy them we did – and just the thought of the jacket potato I was going to eat for lunch was enough to get me through the misery of the morning commute on the Tube.
So it was with nostalgia as much as delight that I greeted the news of Jacketz: a new jacket potato shop that’s just popped up on the Kinkerstraat. I didn’t need to be told twice; as soon as I got the email, I was there for lunch the very next day with Scary French Lady.
The menu is the same kind of mix ‘n match concept they have at Salsa Shop: you choose your potato (either a half or a whole – and these bad boys weigh half a kilo each!), followed by your main filling, topped with various optional extras, and finished up with your choice of sauce. The potatoes themselves are fluffed up with salt, pepper, olive oil and crème fraîche – frankly, I could’ve eaten mine just like that.
I went for a half-jacket (which is odd for me, I know, but look at the size of the thing!) filled with pulled pork in a so-called “whiskey maple sauce” (it tasted like homemade BBQ sauce, and I’m not complaining) topped with cheese. I opted out of any additional sauces because the BBQ effect seemed sufficient, but I could have added garlic, tartar, pepper or honey-mustard sauces, not to mention hummus or pesto. It’s hard to imagine which fillings some of these were supposed to go with, but perhaps I’m just not thinking out of the jacket-potato-shaped box. (Incidentally, they do takeaway jackets in boxes that fold out into handy potato-sized plates – genius.)