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Sunday, 25 March 2012

Meat & Bread – Gourmet Sandwiches Galore!

_MG_8664 copy_thumb[1] With the Vancouver weather finally showing some signs of spring (aka sunshine), Rich and I ventured out to Downtown for an afternoon drive. It was around 2PM or so when we started getting hungry, because we had a really late breakfast that day. Since we were in the neighbourhood, we decided to check out Meat & Bread, the sandwich shop that has been raved about so much recently. It took a few loops around the block before we were able to secure meter parking on Cordova Street. 26 minutes of free meter from the last payer…WIN! I promptly added another dollar to top it up to 46 minutes and off we went. :)

The exterior of Meat & Bread is very unassuming. In fact, if I didn’t know about it, I would probably never visit. Not to mention it’s in an area of Vancouver that we rarely visit as well.

The menu is simple, with four sandwiches, including a daily special that changes and three staples: porchetta, meatball and grilled cheese. We snapped the picture right after we finished eating – which was ~30 minutes after we had entered. It seemed like the crowd-favourite Porchetta was sold out. One thing I did note was that these are some pretty pricey sandwiches. Rich was busy snapping photos, so I decided to go ahead and order. I opted for the Porchetta and Meatball. Although the daily special sounded interesting, one look at the words chicken and cilantro meant that neither of us will like it. When Rich asked me why I didn’t get a soup as well, I pointed at the price tag…
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Customers are greeted by a brightly lit array of freshly baked ciabatta buns made by Swiss Bakery. Right behind is the star of the operation – the famed Porchetta – a savory, fatty and moist boneless pork roast – arranged with layers of stuffing, fat, and skin. Once your orders are taken, the chefs are immediately at work, slicing the bread, carving the meat and arranging their signature mustard on paper-lined wooden cutting board serving plates. The atmosphere just has an endearing touch to it that’s hard to explain unless you personally experience it. The whole process has an assembly line feel to it – as you watch your sandwich come together before your eyes. From ordering to eating takes less than five minutes.
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It should also be noted that you’ll be eating at a big communal table. The picture above was the scene as we were exiting the store… at 2:30 PM. The place was still a constant influx of customers – with lineups forming briefly. However, the staff were so deft at serving customers and clearing tables promptly that nobody really had to wait too long. The communal table idea probably also gets customers out the door faster. :P Who would want to hold long personal conversations when you’re elbow-to-elbow with the stranger next to you?
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Pictured above is the Porchetta, a $8 guilty-pleasure sandwiched by two pieces of toasty bread. The pork pieces were really melt-in-your-mouth tender and were perfectly seasoned. I must say that it was quite fatty from the few bites that I had. It was topped by a generous serving of salsa verde (anchovies, capers and pickles plus fresh green herbs), which helped balance the abundant carnivorous delight.  Rich liked the mustard (in-house special?) and thought it complemented the flavours of the Porchetta.
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Our other selection was the meatball sandwich ($8). The last meatball sandwich I had was from Subway…which doesn’t come remotely close to the Meat & Bread offering. As you can see, there is plenty of meatball stuffed in between the two slices of bread, topped with slices of grana padano (an Italian cheese) and gremolata – a chopped herb condiment (usually made from lemon zest, garlic and parsley). There was also ample amounts of their special sambal sauce in the midst of everything, which gave it a surprisingly spicy kick. I hadn’t expected it to be as spicy as it was… and found myself gulping down water. There was so much filling that it was kinda too heavy for the bottom piece of bread to support everything. I ended up taking it apart so I wouldn’t make a complete mess. Oh well :P
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Oh, the water is self-serve in this little tin jar on the side with extra napkins as well.
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They also sell cute little jars of their sambal sauce, mustard and salt rub for $7 each. I quite liked the little display they had on the wall.
The Yummies:
  • Excellent sandwiches made with fresh ingredients
  • Efficient service – nobody has to wait long even though the lines can be quite long
The Yuckies:
  • Pricey… $$$ sandwiches – the price is the only factor that may deter me from returning…
  • Yucky downtown parking… limited and pricey (although meter parking in this part of town isn’t too bad)
  • Only the grilled cheese would be Nabs-friendly :(

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Meat & Bread on Urbanspoon
Let’s throw in some of Rich’s downtown photography from the same day! :)
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Peter Holbrook said...

Why have I never read your blog!? Great stuff,
keep it up

Nabeel said...

Hi Peter,

Thanks for the positive feedback fellow foodie! You're doing a heck of a job yourself =)

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