“Home of the original smoked meat sandwich. “
My first time at “Phat” was during my attempt at completing Vancouver Magazine’s 101 tastes to try, back in 1999. The list brought me here for their smoke meat sandwiches. Tonight I was back for the same and because of the Guru (gurucooking.ca). He is friends with the owner and when in Yaletown, likes to stop by on the off chance that he is in. Tonight was not the case, however we did stay to enjoy a solid late night snack. “Phat” is a refreshing change out of all the places to eat in Yaletown at 12pm. A little shop snuggled amongst the dingy and dark dive bars, and the restaurants that strike you as more of a club than a place to eat. Here the music was not volumous with a tud tud of its base, there are no techno coloured lights, or overly rowdy crowds. When you walk in it almost feels like there is a filter over the room. Like “Hudson” on “Instagram”. After your eyes adjust, you eventually realize that there is a deli slash sandwich shop hidden under all the sports memorabilia. Action posters, signed jerseys, strung up pennants, and flags in flight.They don’t hide their support for our Vancouver Canucks, legacies and all. However there was one Canadiens jersey hiding in the mix of white, blue, and green. Guess they wanted to acknowledge the Montreal in their Montreal smoke meat sandwiches?
Who remembers the 90’s and what P-H-A-T actually stands for? Back in my day it meant “Pretty hot an tempting”. Usually a adjective bestowed on a more voluptuous woman, but I guess their meats are pretty hot and tempting.
The Guru says “Phat” has the best cold cuts in town. They were definitely the freshest I have ever tasted. Which is odd seeing as they are all flown in all the way from Montreal, which could be a day or two in travel. Cut on site, they get topped layer after layer to ensure each bite is the meatiest, and each one as meaty as the last, and like the one next to it.
I went for their famous the “Montreal smoke meat sandwich”. A dish so popular it got it own section on the menu. Under its options are different variations in cheeses, sauces, and breads. I got the regular, it was made on a mixed rye bread with a hot Dijon mustard, with a kosher dill pickle on the side. Believe it our not, this was the skinny version. The “Phat” edition came so much larger that it warranted a $3 difference in price. The meat was light with a taste milder than I thought it would be. You would think that all this cured meat would be salty. However it was the mustard that was the dominating flavour, to the point that I needed to scrape some off on the side.
I have been addicted to onion rings since my trip to Penticton, where I had the best ones at a stall on the beach. From hating their texture, to ordering them whenever I see them, and buying them frozen from the grocery store. So obviously half drunk, I had to have them now. And boy howdy at that time these were the most amazing onion rings ever. Beer goggles aside, these were ones most restaurants got from “GFS”. Mass battered, frozen, and then fried to order.
The Guru had the “Beef dip on a baguette”, served with horseradish mayo, and au jus. Like the smoke meat sandwich, this too was filled evenly with delicate layers of meat. The mayo gave the crispy bread a kick of spice and the au jus made each bite a multi textured melding of meat and meat juices.
You can get your meat on various platforms: bagels, buns, and breads. For ease, choose from predetermined great ingredient combinations. Or for a more hands on experience choose your own. Select your meats, cheeses, veggies, and sauces; to make your own super “Phat” sandwich. And they do breakfasts too, because smoke meat is good all times of the day.
We wanted a shot and left it up to our bartender to decide. She was the only one working front of house for us and the 5 other guests in the restaurant. For the most part everyone was quiet and engrossed in their own thing. She was chipper despite the day that stood behind her and the next day before her. She held conversations and made all her guests feel welcome. They returned her kindness with their continue seating and increased drinking. What she presented to us was what she liked, “Spice box”, a drink made with spiced whiskey with vanilla. I remembered not liking the taste, but not much more after that.
Would I go back? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
The atmosphere was chill, the staff approachable and the customers friendly. Known as a go to for the Canucks, you might see one when in season. The food was solid and sure to satisfy anyone’s meat-filled cravings. With enough to give a person some serious meat sweats. Plus if the Guru (gurucooking.ca) vouches for this place and is willing to revisit, you can be sure it is a quality establishment. Don’t deny your cravings