EARL Canteen, CBDEarl Canteen is a cafe that specialises in sandwiches and subs, though it also sells a range of salads and also has a soup of the day. The one I went to was on Bourke St, between Queen and Williams St, but there's also one in Collins Place on Collins St, between Exhibition and Spring St. Although the address is on Bourke St, you actually have to go in from Little Bourke St, as it's just behind the NAB offices.
The cafe itself isn't very big, with a communal table taking up much of the space on one side, and a few smaller tables the other. It was relatively busy when we went on a weekday a little before the lunch crowds came in, and the staff were attentive and friendly, and happy to give us suggestions as we hadn't been there before.
The two sandwiches we ended up choosing were the Pork Belly ($13.50) and the Harissa Lamb ($15), as they were two of the most popular ones according to the staff, and the one that made people want to come back to Earl Canteen again.
The Pork Belly consisted of crisp skin free range pork belly, with an apple and fennel coleslaw and wilted silverbeet. The pork belly was extremely tender and didn't have much fat to it. It wasn't too salty, and together with the coleslaw, made for a very refreshing and light sandwich. With the coleslaw, you could really taste and apple flavour, and that, plus the wilted silverbeet, gave the sandwich a good, crunchy texture. However, the one downside to this dish was the crackling on the pork belly, which was extremely hard. My friend initially though it was a bone, and I actually couldn't eat it at all- I thought I would chip my tooth or something because it was so tough.
The lamb sandwich consisted of slow cooked harissa rubbed lamb, quince, hung yoghurt, green beans and almonds. The lamb was very tender, and there was good flavour but it wasn't too strong and overpowering. The hung yoghurt felt quite sour at times, but this was balanced out by the other elements. There was also a sweetness in the sandwich which really brought out the flavour of the lamb, and kept the whole sandwich in an equilibrium of flavours. The green beans and the almonds gave the sandwich a crunchy texture, and was refreshing amongst all the other strong flavours.
Both of the sandwiches had lovely soft bread that was nice and warm, which I really enjoyed. However, I wasn't feeling extremely full after the sandwiches, and felt that for the prices, the portions could've been bigger, or had more filling to them. Despite this however, I'd be willing to return again to try some of the other sandwiches.
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