By: Gabriel Kitsos, SFU Student
Little about the cold, restless streets of downtown feels inviting, unless you’re near the warm golden glow coming from the wooden interior of Meat & Bread. Its glass window spans across the wall and reveals everything — cooks dressed in black preparing food right at the bar — drawing you in.
Meat & Bread’s atmosphere is modern, without feeling cold. In fact, the room is quite cozy, with wooden floors, counters, and furniture that command the room’s aesthetic. This, along with the white-painted brick and faded mirrors, create a laid-back café environment.
The first thing on their menu is the porchetta sandwich. It’s their most popular item and even if you ordered nothing else, it’s worth going out of your way to get. Walking inside, you quickly see that the meat is the centre of attention. Their carving station is within two steps of the front door. Behind the carving station’s glass cage is their porchetta, an Italian pork roast, presented as if it’s in an art exhibit. It is a hulking piece of dark-crusted meat, smothered in herbs. The porchetta is brought to life as one of the cooks slices the meat, and then reaches for the decadent strips of pork “crackling,” or crispy pig skin.
This sandwich is simple, but every component is in perfect ratio. First, there’s the ciabatta bread. While most ciabatta I’ve had is crumbly and dry with a leathery crust, this one is different. It has a thin crust with a toasty brown colour. When cut open and placed on the cutting board, it reveals a light and pillowy interior.
Piled on top is a mountain of their glistening pork, a mixture of light and dark meat, which lends the bread an abundant amount of its juices. As soon as the juicy pork paints the soft bread, the salsa verde — a fragrant sauce of chopped herbs and oil — is spooned in generous amounts over top, slowly cascading through the crevices of the meat.
The salsa verde is light and citrusy, a perfect balance to the rich meat. There’s a subtle sweetness deriving from the almost unnoticed fennel seeds. Then follows the perfect contrast to these textures, the crackly pork skin, which is placed on top. Its crunchiness remains even in your last bite.
You can get your food to go, but it is not very hot, so I suggest heating it up. If you are at SFU’s Goldcorp Centre then you don’t need to go far, as it is next door. The porchetta sandwich sells out quickly so make sure to get there earlier in the day. The sandwich is $12.50, and is certainly substantial for lunch — you might even decide to save some for later.