As a longtime Calgarian, it pains me to promote any import from Vancouver, even though I briefly lived there many years ago. But when said import considerably elevates Cowtown’s sandwich game, who am I to protest?
The sandwich shop in question is Meat & Bread, which I enthusiastically reviewed shortly after it opened in Vancouver’s Gastown district in 2010. It delivered everything I look for: delicious, innovative sandwiches, made to order yet produced so efficiently that the lunchtime line moves swiftly.
Such a sandwich shop was sorely lacking in Calgary, at least until a Meat & Bread location opened in June in the historic Grain Exchange Building, along downtown’s busy 9th Avenue. While it’s a franchise (there are currently two other locations, in Vancouver and Seattle), it’s in the capable hands of Eric Hudson and wife Bao Nahn. Most importantly, the experience and quality is essentially the same as at the flagship restaurant in Vancouver.
The keys to success are deceptively simple. First, there’s a very short menu of sandwiches—on fresh ciabatta buns—including a few standards, such as the outstanding signature porchetta, with its crunchy cracklings, and a barbecue beef. On a recent Friday, I opted for the special: three substantial, moist pork and beef meatballs topped with parmesan aioli, a chopped herb condiment and kale ($9.50).
Second, everything is freshly made each day by skilled “chefs, not sandwich artists,” featuring quality ingredients. Indeed, there’s no freezer on the premises.
Finally, and crucially at lunch hour, there’s a highly efficient crew assembling these four or five sandwiches. Such that our counter order is delivered to a high table in scant minutes.
The sides are similarly limited—a daily soup and a salad and a handcrafted chocolate bar for dessert. Nice to see a small selection of beers from Calgary microbrewers.
“It’s simple,” the company’s mantra goes, “we make sandwiches.” What more do you need?
Meat & Bread
821 1 Street SW, Calgary, Alberta
Monday to Saturday 11 am-5 pm. Closed Sunday