Big Lou’s Butcher Shop
269 Powell Street
“Me, too”, “Me, three!!!”. Isn’t it funny that, once somebody establish a new type of restaurant, copycats pop out as if there is no tomorrow? After Meat & Bread opened, there is Dirty Apron Deli and Big Lou’s Butcher Shop – the topic of today’s post. Well, it is not that it is bad; specially when these are different enough and/or has an unique twist. Rather, it is the fact that it does not feel… Original? Regardless, here is the question: How is the end product?
Now, what I just mentioned is not 100% accurate. Some delis have been selling sandwiches for a long time. For example, La Grotta del Fromaggio makes killer sandwiches; likewise, some banh mi shops double as Vietnamese delis as well. But, given some short-sightedness of some Vancouverites, i.e., it has to happen in Downtown Vancouver for it to spread or to be noticed… But, I am digressing here.
Big Lou’s is not a deli; instead, as the name suggests, is a butcher shop. And, yes, they have steaks, chickens and what not. But, at the end of the shop, there this small area where your sandwiches are prepared. Furthermore, they have some pedigree: they are the same people who run 2 Chefs and a Table (which I haven’t had a chance to visit yet). So, despite it is a “new” shop, the excuse of “recently opened” shouldn’t be used. But, moving to the food…
They have a couple of stools and after, getting my order, it is there where I sat myself to snap this shot. OK, I am just teasing you guys here, it does not tell you exactly what it is but it does show some details, specifically the butcher theme. Butcher paper to wrap the sandwich? Twine to tie it? As for the sandwich itself…
Since I have mentioned Meat & Bread (M&B), I had to order that one said sandwich instead of their namesake Big Lou’s Chicago Style sandwich (which is a house made sausage sandwich). Yes, I ordered a porchetta sandwich! So, a direct one to one comparison has to be made. Starting off with the bread, this one had a good texture and the fact it felt lightly toasted gives this one a slight edge over the one from M&B. Also, it felt chewier compared to M&B but, given this is a preference thing, it could go either way. As for the meat, M&B felt it was roasted a bit more and it had more cracklings sprinkled. The one from Big Lou’s had a slightly meatier/fattier feeling to it. Once again, depending on how you like yours… Now, here is the main difference between the two places: In M&B, they use salsa verde; in Big Lou’s, they use chimichurri. OK, there can be a bit source of confusion: salsa verde literally translates into “green sauce” and chimichurri can be technically considered to be a salsa verde. But, here is the key detail: salsa verde can be made from green herbs but chimichurri has to be parsley based (along with minced garlic, olive oil and probably chilli flakes). In this case, it was the chimichurri that provided a different savoury tartness and herbiness that M&B’s can’t compare. Does that mean one is better than the other? Not really, both have merits of its own; rather, it is a good sandwich to start a debate!
Should I have stopped at one sandwich? Nah… So, what sandwich is this one? And is that an… Asparagus? Yup, that’s an asparagus spear. Not only that, this is their banh mi. What?! Banh mi as in that Vietnamese sandwich? Should I add “only in Vancouver?”. But, as mentioned, Big Lou’s is a butcher shop and they have some pickled items so it seems it ended up being a case of why not? Anyway, this one contains pork should, house made pate, spicy mayo among other components.
Alas, just because it contains some banh mi components, it does not automatically makes it a banh mi. Sure, you have pate, pickled vegetables, cilantro, mayo in a baguette. However, it didn’t “feel” like it; specially considering the comparison I have to make in regards to Edmonton’s options. Now, here is how it went “wrong”:
- The pork was too sweet.
- It used the same bread as the porchetta; however, it felt too heavy for banh mi.
- Pickled vegetables… Nah, didn’t work the same way as the ones from Vietnamese banh mi.
- The spicy mayo felt more on the lines of a Thousand Island dressing than spicy mayo.
- Pate was physically there but didn’t have that strong taste.
I feel that, had they called it a braised pork shoulder sandwich, I won’t say too much and just say it was a decent sandwich, though still too sweet. But, as a banh mi? Please, no. If you want a banh mi, just walk a couple of blocks to Chinatown. For the same $8 you would have paid for this, you could have gotten two Vietnamese banh mi… And probably get some change back.
Overall, Big Lou’s offer a good sandwich; however, I feel you have to stick with the tried and true ones (porchetta, I am quite certain about their namesake sandwich). For more ethnic ones? Order at your own risk?