Saturday, June 4, 2011
Sandwich Saturday- Part 2: Fancy Banh Mi at Big Lou's Butcher Shop
After a successful start to Sandwich Saturday, with a truly delicious experience at La Ghianda, Jobin and I debated and discussed for a while planning our next sandwich stop. He wanted to hit either Meat and Bread or Big Lou's Butcher Shop in the gastown/crosstown area, and since I've been to Meat and Bread (and loved it), we decided to go to Big Lou's to try something new for both of us (although I insisted that he go to Meat and Bread as soon as humanly possible for their porchetta). So we got in the Honda Fit, or the Meat mobile as it was subbed on my last sandwich adventure with Coop, Leggy Redhead and Big A. and headed into town from the far west of Kits.
Located in a restored heritage building on the corner of Powell and Gore (across from Sunrise Market- a busy, cheap stand by for produce), this retro-styled butcher shop and delicatessen is brought to you by the same owners and chefs behind Two Chefs and a Table in Gas town. The inside features two large glass cases full of locally sourced cuts of beef, pork, and poultry, sausages, stuffed meats (*apparently everything is butchered on site), jars of local or in-house pickles, sauces, marinades,dry rubs, and seasonings.
They also carry specialty items like pre-marinated meats, braised short ribs, pork belly, lamb shanks, pulled pork, and coq au vin.
*My friend Tim said his sister swears that Big Lou's Argentian Marinated Chicken is life-changing!
There is about a 6-10 bar stools and a long counter along the wall for those eating in. The decor is manly- yet playful, retro- yet clean and modern with old butcher aprons, chalkboards, meat charts, an old cash register, and all the staff wear butchers whites.
Service was great- we got a warm and friendly welcome when we entered, were offered samples of their delicious salty, smoky, juicy pastrami while we pondered our order, and all of usual foodie questions were answered with real knowledge and genuine enthusiasm.
We were torn between the featured Canucks Playoff themed sandwich, the Big Lou-ongo ($7.50 spicy italian meatball, house made marinara sauce and parmesan on rustic ciabatta bread) and the Pulled Pork Banh Mi that was listed as one of Vancouver Magazine's best sandwiches in the city. Van Mag was certainly bang on with our sandwich one hour ealier (Corned Beef and La Ghianda), so went ordered their pick, the Banh Mi ($8.00) with house pickled vegetables, pork shoulder, house made pate, cilantro, spicy mayo on a crusty french baguette style bread loaf.
When our sandwich was ready, we asked that they cut it in half for us to share, and they wrapped up in a package with butcher paper and twine, the way a butcher shop would wrap up a steak. Pretty cool presentation, but it didn't last long as we ripped into the package to start devouring our second sandwich of the day. The pulled pork shoulder was plentiful and had a really nice texture. I'm not a fan of pulled pork that is too dry and like the sloppier texture but with chunks of the exterior roasting where its a little drier and crispier. This pulled pork was very much that awesome texture. Unfortunately, the pork was sweeter than I'd like it to be. If I could, I'd add some spice and take away some of the sweetness. The pickled veg was pretty much just carrots but it gave a nice tart, fresh, vinegar-y, light flavour to an otherwise pretty heavy sandwich. This sandwich also had a tonne of fresh cilantro which helped to lighten things up. The pate was rich, creamy and very "herb-y"- an interesting mix of flavours and texture. I LOVED the flavour of the spicy, savoury mayo, but this sandwich was bathed in it, and it was a bit overpowering, especially with all of the other "heavy" elements in the dish.
The bread was just okay for me. I thought it was a good sandwich, but not really worth the hype.
Jobin loved the combo and balance of the pulled pork and pate together in the sandwich and really loved all of the fresh cilantro. Unfortunately, he had a few bites of the pulled pork on its on and found the fennel (black licorice) taste to be displeasing. He also found a chunk of bay leaf it his sandwich which turned him on a bit.
Another good overall sandwich experience, but one that will probably have us coming back to try the other delicious sounding sandwiches (we bumped into one of Jobin's friends who strongly recommended the pastrami sandwich and claims they pile a pound of meat on the sandwich!) and to buy some of their meat products to cook at home.