Looking for a no frills, back to basics sandwich joint? Get yourself to Gastown’s Meat & Bread. It’s a Vancouver restaurant that has nothing to apologize for.
Housed in a masculine, modern-industrial space on Cambie Street opposite Victory Square, this Vancouver restaurant has had a lineup out the door since the day they opened last fall. With just a handful of small tables by the window, a few stools at the bar, and a long communal table that accommodates about twenty, seating is limited once you’ve ordered at this counter-service spot. It’s usually crowded, and turnover is brisk – not a place to bring a stroller or plan to linger over a leisurely lunch. No, you come for the sandwiches.
As you walk in the door, you’re greeted by Frankie or Cord (the owners) who walk you through the simple menu and tell you the features of the day. Then it’s decision time.
Porchetta: succulent roast pork cut to order with crunchy crackling mixed in. This is their signature dish – while I’m occasionally tempted by their daily roast feature, it’s this sandwich that keeps me coming back.
Daily Roast: varies. Some recent examples include Peace River Lamb Neck with goat cheese, red onion and watercress, Rossdown Farms Turkey Thigh with sweet soy glaze, house kimchi, cucumber pickle and sesame mayo, and Braised Fraser Valley Veal Breast with caramelized onions, blue cheese, watercress and horseradish cream. Drool-inducing, to say the least.
There’s also a classic meatball sandwich, and a grilled cheese for vegetarians. With a name like Meat & Bread, it’s no surprise that vegans need not apply. All their meat is sourced from local farms, is free-range and organic, and is roasted daily.
There’s only one kind, a ciabatta made by local Swiss Bakery. It’s the perfect compliment to all the meaty goodness that makes this Vancouver restaurant one-of-a-kind.
As you make your way along the counter, the very busy but always friendly staff assemble your sandwich. Served simply on a wooden cutting board lined with paper and dollops of house-made french mustard and spicy sambal, it’s an understated meal with a ton of flavour. Also available are sides of soup or salad, which change daily, and a choice of beer, wine, cider, or Boylan’s soda to drink. Just want water? Pour yourself a glass at the self-serve station.
If you haven’t already guessed, I’ve been eating regularly at Meat & Bread since they opened. I wouldn’t recommend it for very small children, as there are no high chairs, booster seats, or change table, but older kids who can sit still in their own chair would be fine. The sandwiches are on the small side, but very filling, as real handcrafted food tends to be. They tweet their featured daily roast every morning, and sometimes it’s all I can do not to run shrieking to Gastown and salivate on the sidewalk until they open for business.
Oh, and if you have room for dessert, I heartily recommend their bacon maple ice cream sandwich. Oh yes. Alexandra Gill of The Globe and Mail called it “…one of those things you really must try before you die.” Ticking that off on my bucket list, then.
Visit this Vancouver Restaurant
Counter service, eat-in or take-out. Sandwiches are $7-10, sides are $4 each and drinks range from $3 for soda to $8 for wine. Hours of operation are 11:00am-5:00pm Monday-Saturday, closed Sundays.
Meat & Bread