Meat & Bread.
It was a long time coming, but we finally made our way to the much talked about Meat & Bread. The visit actually took place well into this last summer, but I just never managed to put a story to the photos. I believe this blog post might have benefited from the delay and my reasoning for this can be found in the closing paragraphs.
Situated just off Hastings Street on Cambie, one can often see a line up of hungry and expectant patrons spilling out onto the sidewalk.
A stark ad on a signpost situated on the nearby intersection notifies passersby of a Monday to Friday afternoon special. The not so subtle design on the poster also hints at other better (and piggier) sandwich offerings.
The narrow space provides seating by way of a few small tables near the front, seats at the counter and communal table that runs nearly the length of the establishment. Be ready to get cozy with fellow patrons as room is definitely limited and busier times will almost certainly ensure that you are sitting elbow to elbow with other people (this photo was taken towards the end of our meal after the crowds had disbursed). We actually struck up a conversation with an elderly couple who was still very much in love with each other as well as their sandwiches.
The rear of the restaurant has an assortment of interesting knickknacks strewn about. From wall mounted animal visages to beaten in lockers, there is no shortage of eclectic bric a brac decorating the walls. Much like the Dirty Apron, there is a table for self serve water if one so chooses this route to quench their thirst.
A pair of vintage boxing gloves hangs with a worn in punching bag in the back as well, which only adds to the random nature of the decor.
And now to the *ahem* meat of this post. After lining up, one is invited to place their order with pleasant staffers before being able to watch preparation process unfold from behind sneeze proof glass guards. Nothing gets me quite so fired up as seeing food prepared right before my very eyes. From the slicing of the ciabatta bun to the slathering of house made sambal spread and addition of lovingly prepared fillings, no detail is spared.
For the porchetta sandwich succulent roast pork is sliced and cubed, still warm, from the pig roast. Unruly crackling (crisp pig skin) is separated and chopped up to be evenly disbursed within the mound of moist pork served in each sandwich so that the textures shift from tender to crispy from one bite to the next. If you enjoy this sort of thing, it truly is a sight to behold.
My lovely dining companion opted for a braised beef brisket sandwich that was perhaps a little less carefully studied as it continued to be slow cooked before construction. To the best of my knowledge everything from the sambal spread to the bacon maple ice cream sandwiches are made fresh daily. Yes you heard that dessert correctly!
The finished product shown above is the porchetta. Overflowing with juicy pork, it is no wonder that this is the establishment’s most popular food. The sambal adds a bit of a clean and refreshing flavour to the meat which is greasy (in a great way) and satisfyingly umami. I barely touched the mustard served on the side as I deemed it to be nearly unthinkable to mask the great flavours coming from the sandwich.
While preoccupied with my own porchetta filled bun, I only managed a small taste of this also delectable meat & bread combo. The braised brisket sandwich featured a bit more of the sambal flavour as well as the addition of spinach leaves. The beef itself was broken up quite thoroughly and had become extra soft from a long cooking time. This was also a solid sandwich and its owner enjoyed it quite a bit.
Looking back and comparing this sandwich with my lunch at Big Lou’s Butcher Shop it is a daunting task to decide which is the better choice. I liken the decision to a (truly unbiased) mother of two attempting to decide which child she loves more. And even though I ordered essentially the same sandwich at both eateries, the bread was vastly different, the portion size didn’t stack up and the value/service is all but impossible to compare. At this point the only deciding factors for me are perhaps queue length and proximity to the restaurant.
Boiled down, it’s not just hype that keeps Meat & Bread busy. Uncomplicated food that is large on flavour is something that everyone can relate to and that’s a fact.
Meat & Bread
370 Cambie Street
On a bit of a tangent, this blog posts features previously edited photos from this past summer, which, after some re-examination, I decided to re-edit. It’s striking how work done to seeming completion only a few months ago can become rather unsightly upon review. Practice makes perfect (or at least slightly improved in my case) and although there is a universe of growth still out there, I’d like to think that I may have conquered a miniscule corner of it.
For some words of insight and inspiration, look to a recent blog post done by Tomasz Wagner of Mananetwork HERE.