2016 had me crossing off much from my foodie bucket list, and this would end with my first taste of “turducken”. This one term is made by combining the words turkey, duck, and chicken together. And like it is with the word’s origin, the actual food item is exactly as you would expect. It is the stuffing of one protein into another, and then both into a third. An endeavour I have always wanted to undertake myself. But the preparation of such a treat have prevented me from following through. The amount of work, the cost, and the time. I have also looked into purchasing such a creation, and even then the price to pay and the need to bake it myself was more of a commitment than I could bare.
So when I saw that “Meat and Bread” were bringing back their annual turducken sandwich for two days only, I made an effort to cross another off my to-eat list. This effort included waking up early, then lining up in the rain to ensure they didn’t sell out; and that we could enjoy this Christmas treat, dining within their facilities.
I have been to their other location on Pender, so know of their concept and reputation. A few artisan sandwiches worth the buzz and the trip out for. Making them not only a lunch time connivence, but a destination for food lovers.
We were actually the ones to venture through their threshold first. However turned away, being 25minutes too early, despite their door being propped open and looking all inviting. But not before I was able to lay eyes on all their rounds of roasted meat, tied off, and lined up by the counter. It’s delicious scent followed us out the door. Instead remained the full army of staff, busy preparing up to the very last minute. No doubt they were expecting a busy turn out, and I guess we were proof of that. We walked away a few blocks, only to return right quick, as a line quickly grew 10 minutes to. We would be the third group of people let in, standing in a queue that snaked around the corner and down the interesting block.
When we were finally able to enter, we immediately tried to claim a table with our sloughed-off coats. However, we were prevented from doing so by the staff member who told us otherwise. His designation was to stand by the door and regulate traffic flow. Similarly there was another employee, on the opposite side of the room, constantly bussing dishes and cleaning the tables. Both of their specific roles ensured a minimal wait and a quick turn around. So instead, we and everyone else, wrapped around the wooden handrail that separated the counter to order from the seats by the window, and waited our turn.
The menu was a listing stencilled on a black painted wall. Today, along with the seasonal special, they were also offering their more familiar BBQ braised beef and meatball sandwiches. We would share the first and the third, without any sides.
The restaurant was an open space with the entire kitchen and its chef working within plain sight. Their designated space was set to a wall of tile, with a row of knives hanging magnetically on the wall. In front of it and behind sneeze glass, us patrons were treated to a show. One chef slicing the turducken roasts and chopping it into chunks, before ladling a handsome scoop of their homemade gravy over the lot, and then tossing it all together with his gloved hands. He then scoops out a handful for the filling of either sides of a ciabatta bun. Each side of bread is already spread and dressed by his colleague. In this case it is a colourful mix of their butternut squash remoulade, stuffing, and cranberry Cumberland sauce.
To see this process unfold, click the link.
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I don't wake up early for my much, but my first taste of #turducken would do it. Couldn't miss crossing this off my #foodie bucket list. Presenting @meatandbread annual turducken #sandwich. Come early or miss out. Only available for two days (22,23) and this is it for 2016. #Chicken, stuffed into #duck, and then both into #turkey; with Gravy, Butternut Squash Remoulade, Stuffing, Cranberry Cumberland Sauce. #magmeieats #christmas #vancouver
Each sandwich, when fully assembled, is brought up to the counter for serving. Each placed on a wooden board over wax paper, and then finished off with a large dollop of mustard as its side. A row of them is quick to complete by skilled hands. Then one by one, each customer claim theirs by rendering payment.
When it was our turn, I appreciated the clerk offering us an opportunity to add on a bowl of their tomato soup or potato salad, but we would pass on both, and later regret it.
We claimed our sandwich boards, and grabbed two seats along the family style banquet table. It was a comfortable sit that ran the length of their restaurant, across from the procession line in which you order and pay from. We preferred it over the bar seats overlooking the prep space; or the narrow two person tables, between the window and queue, that would result in us dining to a rotating line of customer’s buttocks.
Our seats were close to the “M-E-A-T” sign and their single stall washrooms labeled either “meat” or “bread”. Between the two, is a self serve station of water from pitchers with glasses to pour into. There was a similar station by the front door, that also offered customers the ability to take home the restaurant’s special mix of seasoning in jars. They offered you the ability to recreate some of the flavour of their meats that goes in between their bread.
The “Turducken sandwich” with gravy, butternut squash remoulade, stuffing, and cranberry Cumberland sauce; was like a Christmas meal in one bite. But with each unique flavour battling it out for supremacy, the sandwich was missing a dominant flavour to cohere everything around. A heavier gravy for a more pronounced meaty flavour, or maybe a heavier handed spread of cranberry sweetness, even some salt and cilantro would have helped give the sandwich a better focal point. As a result, we soon got restless with the on tone taste. Something that would have been easily helped by a side of salad or a bowl of soup, like the ones the clerk recommended that we had refused. Not that a sandwich should be crafted needing an accompaniment. The yellow mustard for dipping was a bare minimum and helpful for a few bites. But the second sandwich we shared helped mix things up best. A nice contrasting flavour to go back and forth on. So I guess you can say it the turducken sandwich we waited in line for, and paid $12 for, fell short and we were disappointed. But I still feel it was worth the try that I can now say I have had.
We were much more impressed by the “Meatball sandwich” for $3 less. It was a hearty handheld with three full sized all-beef meatballs, Parmesan aioli, kale, and gremolata. It was zesty with spices and tangy with cream. Good, but I personally could have used more sweet and salty marinara sauce, maybe even some stringy mozzarella, and for sure three toothpicks to keep the round meatballs in place as I bit now. The latter would have been especially helpful as it was messy meal, and there was more sauce on our hands and smeared over our mouths than expected. But overall a really delicious sandwich, well balanced and lots of flavour because they didn’t cheap out on the meat.
Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
It isn’t all that convenient for me, and if/when I venture downtown it is typically for a more fulsome meal; however if in the neighbourhood looking to snack, or if I worked downtown, I could see myself frequenting their sandwich shop more often. Especially given their rotating selection of hearty meat subs, easy to eat full meals between bread. Don’t deny your cravings.