Cafe Review: Earl Canteen

Location: 500 Bourke Street (enter via Lt Bourke), Melbourne
Phone: (03) 9600 1995 

Cuisine: Gourmet sandwiches
Overall Impression: 7/10

After hearing the hype surrounding EARL Canteen, I was extremely skeptical. I mean, a sandwich is a sandwich. Let's not get *too* excited. Nevertheless, as the saying goes 'don't knock it til you've tried it', J decided to "surprise" me by taking me for a quick lunch there. I had been adamant about not wanting to try it as a protest against over-hyped sandwiches (in hindsight, I'm not sure what my problem was) but J pretended that he just wanted me to accompany him so he could get a take away but instead suddenly ordered 2 sandwiches, hence the "surprise".
The place was bustling with patrons. We arrived at 12.15pm, what most would consider a considerably early lunch time, but the place was packed. There was already a substantial queue. So we decided to join it while J decided what he would get for the two of us (unbeknownst to me).
Everything looked delicious. True to the philosophy behind EARL canteen, the menu certainly reflected 'restaurant quality' sandwiches. At this stage, I was still doubtful as to whether or not it would come through in the tasting.
 We got the following sandwiches to share:

Mushroom & Goats’ Curd $11.5
Roast field mushrooms, goats’ curd, pesto, chestnuts, rocket, ciabatta

There was a generous amount of goats' curd and its creamyness was a delicious match for the salty, nutty pesto. The mushrooms were roasted beautifully and perfectly seasoned.
Duck Confit $16
Confit duck, caramelised figs, walnuts, onion jam, radicchio, watercress, ciabatta

The duck was so tender and the caramelised figs brought a nice sweetness to the whole sandwich. The walnuts gave it a beautiful textural element. The only downside was.. *dramatic music* there was a huge duck bone. In fact, if you zoom into the picture above, you can see it very clearly. But as it was obvious enough that I saw and immediately removed it, such that it did not detract from my enjoyment of the sandwich, I'll let that slide.

All in all, the quality of the offerings were outstanding. The bread itself was delicious and for good reason too as they are sourced from what is known to be the best bakery in Melbourne, Dench Bakers in Fitzroy North.

These were excellent sandwiches. Overrated? Yes. But still easily the best sandwiches I have ever had. So, yes, I'm glad J convinced me to eat before I speak.

EARL Canteen on Urbanspoon