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Meat & Bread does sandwiches just right

Meat & Bread

A well-made sandwich is a wonderful thing, and not easy to find. Why is it so difficult to get a good sandwich that isn't overly complicated, ill-conceived or stale and soggy? (I'm talking to you, Starbucks.)

Meat & Bread does it just right. This bustling counter-service lunch shop across from Victory Square serves four types of sandwiches – three variations of freshly roasted meat on bread, along with a grilled Gruyère for vegetarians.

These simply sensational sandwiches are built to order, quickly but perfectly, without too much embellishment (no lettuce or tasteless tomatoes). A fresh ciabatta bun, custom-made by Swiss Bakery, is the only type of bread available. They're served on paper-lined wooden cutting boards with dabs of spicy sambal and French mustard on the side; the overzealous slapping on of condiments is where so many pre-made sandwiches go wrong.

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Porchetta ($8) is the main attraction. "The king of all pork dishes," as anointed by Saveur magazine, is a boneless roast roll, layered with various cuts of meat, fat, skin and herbs. Meat & Bread uses local free-range, grain-fed pork from Two Rivers Specialty Meats. It's packed tight, slow-roasted daily and hand-carved to order.

Served with a dollop of salsa verde that cuts the fat with a touch of herbaceousness, this porchetta sandwich is moist, juicy, full of sweet flavour and not overly salted. Best of all, it has lots of crunchy texture from golden bits of crackling.

It's no wonder there's always a long (yet orderly and quickly moving) lineup between the carving station and the communal table. It doesn't hurt that the "mantique" décor – an old leather punching bag hangs in the back, against peeling white-brick walls – is so metrosexually handsome.

In addition to the grilled cheese ($7), there is a regular meatball sandwich ($7) and a daily roast ($8): BBQ beef brisket, cumin-braised lamb shoulder, and sometimes a finger-licking roast chicken with deeply delicious caramelized onion jus and zesty cabbage-apple slaw.

Save room for dessert. The maple bacon-ice cream sandwich – hand-churned with salty chunks of meat, pressed between Italian pizzelle wafers – is one of those things you really must try before you die.

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About the Author
Vancouver restaurant critic

Alexandra Gill has been The Globe and Mail’s Vancouver restaurant critic since 2005. She joined the paper as a summer intern in 1997 and was hired full-time as an entertainment columnist the following year. In 2001, she moved to Vancouver as the Western Arts Correspondent, a position she held until 2007. More

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