Meat & Bread Gastown
Meat & Bread is a sandwich shop started in Gastown that is known for their Porchetta sandwiches. They were featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. They have expanded to more locations in Vancouver, Victoria and Seattle. Each location serves their famous Porchetta sandwich, a rotational daily special, and signature sandwich. They also have a vegetarian sandwich and daily soup. At the original Gastown location, the signature sandwich is meatball.
The ordering system here works like an assembly line. You tell the staff closest to the entrance who is the one chopping all the porchetta and buns, what sandwich you want and he starts making it. As you move down the line, the second person will take your soup, salad and drink order. The third staff accepts your payment. By the time you pay, your food is usually ready. It's a pretty efficient setup! At lunch time, the line ups can look intimidating and seats may be full but don't worry. The line moves fast, and seats clear up quick too. Most seating is on the large communal table. There are a couple of small tables by the window if you want to eat privately.
Although we work closer to their Burrard location, we love the gastown location the most. There is more space to sit, and the pork tastes juicier here! Sorry Burrard! They also serve with mustard on a wooden plank while the other location serves it in a take out box even if we eat it there. No mustard is provided by default at the Burrard location. We haven't tried the Victoria or Seattle location to compare.
For the purpose of the review, I will only be critiquing the items that can be ordered regularly such as the Porchetta and Meatball sandwich. The rotating daily soups and sandwiches will not be reviewed as they're not regularly available. The soups are the same price (I think). The daily sandwiches may vary in pricing.
WHAT WE TRIED:
Porchetta | $9.5 | Salsa Verde, Mustard
Meatball | $9.5 | Kale, Parm Aioli, Gremolata
Phillip's Craft Rootbeer| $3
Phillip's Craft Orange Soda| $3
Phillip's Craft Gingerale| $3
Tomato Soup (Special) | $4
Chili (Special) | $4
Tortilla Soup (Special) | $4
Daily Sandwiches | $$$ (Price varies)
Porchetta sandwich is the star of the show here. Roast pork, with crispy crackling, salsa verde and mustard. These are all classic flavours that go well together. When executed well the food speaks for itself. The mustard is also made in-house which customers can buy to take home. Note: Do not come late into the afternoon when it's near closing time as you may risk them running out of pork!
Another reason we love the original location more is because of the meatball sandwich which is regularly available! When we want to change it up from their porchetta, we love their meatball sandwich too! Especially the old recipe which was a spicy tomato sauce, house sambal and grana padano. With such classic ingredients, they all work well together. The recipe has changed recently to Kale, Parm Aioli and Gremolata which in our opinion is for the worse. Kale is such a hipster vancouver ingredient they want to put in everything. The bitterness of the kale doesn't go well with the tomato sauce. Even the aioli with tomato sauce is not as satisfying as cheese and spicy tomato sauce. You don't need to mess with classic flavours! Whenever I'm feeling for this sandwich again, I ask to replace the aioli with house sambal and keep the gremolata as it doesn't spoil the sandwich but it doesn't necessarily add much to the dish. I still get the kale but I ask them to put it on the side.
OVERALL IMPRESSION OF MEAT AND BREAD:
Meat & Bread is the city's best porchetta sandwich. You can't go wrong coming here. It's one of those places that we would recommend anyone, especially friends visiting from out of town. My only pet peeve is the meatball sandwich. The new recipe is not working at all and in our opinion is worse than the previous iteration. If they change it back to the old recipe or improve on the current one I will bump up their rating to 10/10. If there are any dishes or drinks you love at Meat Bread and think we should try it next time, feel free to contact us!
Meatball sandwich got worse =(
Simple and tasty
Super efficient setup with ordering
Good value considering quality of ingredients