When I first heard of EARL Canteen, I almost had trouble believing that a sandwich that sounded so delicious could really exist. The tales I’d heard of crispy pork crackling inside a baguette otherwise full of tasty delights simply seemed too good to be true.
Since then, I’ve enjoyed a cheeky stop-off more than once so when someone at work (me) floated the idea of a lunch dash I did everything I could to make it happen – even if it meant making the run myself. What can I say? I’m just that nice of a person.
Walking back down Lt Bourke street with my brown paper bag full of dreams, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of accomplishment – all proud to be the shining bringer of good things to tastebuds. This is why:
Sitting at my desk for a quick bite before the real world kicked in again, the Teutonic punch of flavours opened up to me. Wafer-thin crisps of red apple. Savoury webs of wilted silverbeet with its witch-like hint of bitterness. White cabbage coleslaw with touches of natural mineral sweetness and creamy overtones. Of course, the slabs of slow-cooked pork belly interspersed with the hard crunch of crackling is the real killer taste here. I would probably say that the baguette I got this time was a bit too tough but it’s still a really well put together sandwich.
Averaging around $12 per sandwich, EARL is the kind of place I’ll only go to when I really feel like a bit of decadence amid the hectic whirl of the middle-week. They aren’t the best you’ll find in the world, maybe not even in Melbourne, but the wide variety of options and the unique approach to lunchtime food culture makes it worth a try at least once. The lime-poached chicken is definitely worth a mention too as it skirts around the bahn mi concept that this city hasn’t seemed to quite jump on just yet.
TL;DR: The pig meat in bread is good. Would enjoy again.