The weather outside is frightful, but the staff and atmosphere at the Yates Street Meat and Bread are absolutely delightful as Jam Café Chef Sean Bodie and I meet for lunch.
Despite a typical Victoria downpour, patrons file in at a steady pace to grab a sandwich to go or sit at one of the long tables that fill the warm space.
Meat and Bread gives you just what you expect – amazing, fresh ciabbatta buns and tasty, moist meat. The buns come from Crust Bakery down the road on Fort Street. They are par-cooked, then fresh-baked at the restaurant, creating a perfect bed of chewy richness for them to pack on the good stuff.
We’re greeted at the door by Shae Nakano who gives us the run down. Behind the wood counter stand a line of neatly dressed men with an oven full of ciabatta baking behind them, a plump boneless pork roast sits at the ready. We order and watch the sandwiches built.
The menu at Meat and Bread is simple: four sandwiches, one soup and one salad. “I’m a huge fan of their menu,” says Bodie. “It’s so simple. They change the special daily, but they always have the porchetta and jerk chicken.”
Today, the special is Rossdown Farms Buffalo chicken thigh with iceberg, tomato, red onion and blue cheese ranch, and the vegetarian – which changes weekly – is pineapple curry tofu with pad thai peanut slaw and tamarind aioli.
Bodie orders the jerk chicken and I go for the vegetarian. “This is the best jerk chicken I’ve ever eaten in my entire life,” says Bodie. The sandwich is covered in spicy jerk chicken, jicama cabbage slaw, pickled red onion and cilantro lime aioli.
We skip the chili carrot coconut soup and cucumber tabouli salad. The man behind the roast tells Bodie they just started a Happy Hour: from 3 to 4pm get a sandwich and a beer for $10. “That’s like a buck a beer,” says Bodie. “Nice.”
We take a seat and Nakano checks on us, then introduces Meat and Bread chef Carmen Ingham. “Meat and Bread is a refreshing concept,” he says. “The menu is small so you have to focus, you have to pay attention to the details and produce a great product – that’s led to our success.”
The sandwich shop is the brainchild of Cord Jarvie and Frankie Harrington who opened the first Meat and Bread in Vancouver four years ago, a second Vancouver location followed and the Victoria shop opened last year.
We bite into the sandwiches, Bodie’s face lights up immediately. “It’s heavy on the cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice. Normally jerk chicken uses Scotch bonnet (peppers) but I think this is jalepeno … mmm, and pickled onion, that’s nice.”
The chicken is slow cooked, tender and Bodie says, delicious. As he chews he describes the porchetta. “It’s a roast loin with skin crackling all through it with salsa verde – it’s to die for. It’s a toss up with Roast as to who’s better.” As the sound of a gauntlet being thrown fades behind him, Bodie tells me he recently had a turducken sandwich at Meat and Bread. The fare included chestnut stuffing, charred brussel sprouts, pan dripping mashed potatoes and cranberry mostarda. “It’s like Christmas dinner in a sandwich.”
The veggie sandwich is not quite a holiday in my mouth, but delicious and filling enough for me to take home half for later.
We comment on how fast the line of people moves. “It’s the new fast food but healthier and more honest,” says Bodie. “It’s quick, wholesome and delicious at the same time.”