The fourth Earl of Sandwich, contrary to popular belief, wasn’t the first person to put some tasty morsels between bread and declare it a meal. For example, a reference to panini appears in a 16th century Italian cookbook and the Mexican taco predates the arrival of Europeans. However, in the spirit of the good earl (John Montagu, a profligate gambler, who is said to have begun eating his eponymous delicacy to avoid having to leave the gaming tables in 1762) we sought out the finest examples in Sydney of the original: meat between two slices of bread. These are somewhat more elaborate than the earl’s card-table treats, but we think he’d approve.
The Late Night Sandwich at Bar Brosé
The menu at Bar Brosé is designed for sharing, but a bite of the Late Night Sandwich can engender a change of attitude to this democratic dining style. It’s a simple snack, a ham and cheese toastie that chef Analiese Gregory used to whip up for hungry staff post-service. It proved so popular she was persuaded to add it to the main menu, where it continues to cause friction between usually polite diners. Why is it so good? It could be the ham – aged Christmas ham that’s glazed with pineapple and mustard. Or the cheese – French comte is sweet and nutty and melts beautifully. Or perhaps it’s the nduja, a spreadable salami made from pork and roasted capsicum. It could even be the bread – white, light and toasted until perfectly golden and crunchy. Whatever it is, we’re not sharing ours.
231a Victoria Street, Darlinghurst; 0450 307 117
The Bronson at Clementine’s
There’s barely room to swing a cat at this tiny Pyrmont café helmed by Eric Morris, but from that diminutive open kitchen comes Sydney’s finest Reuben sandwich. At its simplest, the Reuben is a pastrami sandwich on rye bread, the kind served up in classic New York diners. Clementine’s iteration, named for ever-hungry rapper Action Bronson, is inspired by a life-changing Reuben that Morris experienced at Kenny & Zuke’s in Portland, Oregon. Morris says the key to a successful Reuben is balance. To that end, the Clementine’s crew takes great care to layer precise ratios of pastrami, sauerkraut, mustard and Swiss cheese, keeping the balance of rich, sweet, tangy, sharp and salty just right. The other important factor is the quality of the ingredients – Clementine’s pastrami is from Challenger Smallgoods, the pickles are from Marrickville’s Westmont Dill Pickles, and Morris makes his own mustard blend and Russian dressing. If you’re hankering for a Reuben, turn up to Clementine’s on a Friday at lunchtime – that’s the only time you’re going to get your mitts on one. Fun fact: In Omaha, Nebraska, March 14 is Reuben Sandwich Day. In Pyrmont, it’s every damn Friday.
Shop 2/52 Harris Street, Pyrmont; 0405 302 830
The Baloney at ACME
The Baloney has been on ACME’s menu since the restaurant opened in 2014 and its popularity hasn’t waned. Perhaps that’s because ACME’s eponymous owners (Andy Emerson, Cam Fairnbairn, Mitch Orr and Ed Loveday) drew on the flavours of their own childhoods to create the nostalgic little pocket of baloney and ketchup. We’re talking mortadella (specially made for ACME by LP’s Quality Meats) and house-made tomato sauce on a potato bread bun crafted by Mitch Orr’s own fair hand.
60 Bayswater Road, Rushcutters Bay; 0435 940 884
Nighthawk Diner's The Cuban
If you’ve seen the Jon Favreau movie Chef, you’ll know what a Cuban sandwich is. If you haven’t, allow The Nighthawk Diner chef Alistair Fogg to enlighten you: “It’s everything I love in one bite – the delicious combination of the pork, cheese, pickles and American-style bread.” The sandwich originated in the Cuban immigrant communities of Miami, Florida and caught on in a major way. At Nighthawk, the sandwich is piled with slow-roasted marinated pork shoulder, citrus-glazed ham, pickles, American cheese and chipotle barbecue mayonnaise. This stack of wonderful is transferred to a grill and toasted until the cheese melts. The Nighthawk Diner operates out of a food truck (named Queen Latifah, fyi) and has various Sydney haunts. Go to The Nighthawk Diner to find out where they’ll be next.
The Katsu Sando at Café Oratnek
The signature dish at Café Oratnek is chef Kenny Takayama’s Katsu Sando, a sandwich that sees tables at Takayama’s Redfern spot quickly fill up come lunchtime. Katsu is like Japanese schnitzel; tonkatsu is thick slices of pork, crumbed and deep-fried to crunchy, juicy perfection. The Katsu Sando combines the pork with the “softest white bread ever” from Brickfields, according to Café Oratnek’s general manager Daryl Russell. On top, there’s a Japanese barbecue sauce, horseradish mustard and the fresh, cool crunch of shredded cabbage. The crusts are cut off and the sandwich is cut into delicate fingers of crunchy, tangy lunchtime bliss. Takayama added the Sando to Oratnek’s menu because it reminds him of home – he used to pick one up on his way home from school in Japan. The chef’s tonkatsu is made with his own secret marinade and coated in extra crunchy panko breadcrumbs. The pork is cooked from raw every time, so each sandwich takes about 15 minutes to make. Totally worth it.
4 Pitt Street, Redfern; (02) 8394 9550
Arcadia Liquors’ Ham, Cheese and Tomato
It’s not until the aroma of a sandwich gently toasting behind the bar at this Redfern hangout reaches the nostrils that you realise how deeply and intensely you need one. There are several more elaborate options on the menu, but for our money it’s all about the ham, cheese and tomato. We’re in classic toastie territory here – oozy, stringy cheese, salty ham and tomato so hot it’ll burn your chin. Cheers to that, Arcadia.
7 Cope Street, Redfern; (02) 8068 4470
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