I admit it, foodies on Twitter chirruping incessantly about Earl Canteen, a new cafe in the CBD, led me to check it out. Peer pressure, yep. It was those damn lunchboxes – the offer of a sandwich, a small salad, then a sweet morsel, all for $13.50 and freshly made. I very rarely have lunch out but figured it’d be worth checking out with fellow food blogger Alex from the Melbourne Social Guide.
It’s a bit tricky to find at first – if you enter from the swinging doors at 500 Bourke St, then go through to the back and you’ll get to a courtyard and find it below Movida Aqui. Alternatively, despite its actual address, you can enter from Lt Bourke St, nearest to the corner of William St. Believe me, you’ll thank me for these elaborate directions!
There wasn’t much in the way of seating inside and it was all taken. Thankfully, Melbourne decided to grace us with a gorgeous autumnal day, so we sat outside in the courtyard. While I waited for Alex, I scoffed down two salted caramel macarons, brand new to the macaron line-up. Should’ve bought four more…Damned delicious. Alas, these beauties are no more. For now.
*News flash, Fuku-san! They’re back! Wheeeee!
Whilst scoffing down my macarons greedily, I had the very unexpected pleasure of bumping into Claire of Melbourne Gastronome fame. Coincidentally, I finally got to give her a copy of a macaron zine I’d been holding onto for her. Naturally, we gabbed about food, macarons and serendipitous meetings. It was pretty lovely of her to make me not feel like that weirdo from the internet.
Alex then arrived, and serious business could then begin: the eating of the magical lunchbox. On the day we went, there was a salad of sweet pumpkin, a berry friand, and a baguette inspired by the Waldorf salad – chicken with a creamy but light dressing, with walnuts and finely chopped Pink Lady apples. Sadly, I have decided I am hopeless with baguettes. I know they’re supposed to be crusty, but my mouth and jaw has to work far too hard to chew the bread for it to be enjoyable. This makes me a sad foodie. I might ask if they can make up their sandwiches with a softer bread because I’m so lame. The only thing that made me feel better was that Alex couldn’t eat his salad on account of not liking pumpkin or sweet potato. Sorry chum, I outed you. Win for me – the salad was delicious and I love both pumpkin and sweet potato.
I returned for another ‘research’ trip and to have lunch with good mate Luke. Whilst there, we were joined by Steph (who is a consummate ‘cookie-foodie’ – check out her personal blog for the requisite evidence) and Lindsey who both made me give in to peer pressure – yeah, I had the pork belly sandwich. No, I had no regrets. Led by Jess, Lindsey and Steph all yelled at me for eating it incorrectly. I truly didn’t realise you can eat a baguette incorrectly. My crime? Attempting to use cutlery. The correct method of cramming the porky goodness into your mouth is to: shove the pork deep into the baguette, close baguette tightly and squeeze down, and then place into mouth and NOM (vb. intransitive). Consider me suitably chastised. No more impromptu sandwich parties for me!
Luke had the sticky lamb baguette and very kindly let me snap a shot of it. I am sorry to report that there was a sliver of bone in it – apparently due to the fact that lamb neck is bony. Poor Luke had pork belly lust as we all tucked into our sandwiches. There’s always next time, chum!
Of course I needed more macarons. This time the rose and coffee ones. Thanks Steph for letting me get a quick photo.
There has been some consternation about Earl Canteen’s prices and I have to confess I’m a bit over it. Earl Canteen have explained their philosophy and quite frankly all you haters can suck some (meat)balls. I say meatballs because there’s a wagyu meatball baguette on Earl’s menu (it is alas mythical to me at present but fellow EDSer Ryan has tried it). Yes, Earl is a little pricey. I’m not particularly affluent but am not at all bothered because the prices reflect supporting a specific food philosophy somewhat antithetical to fast food culture (not that I’m above the occasional fast food burger…). Will it work? Ask the horde of regulars Earl have attracted in the short time they’ve been open. When possible, that’ll include me.