I feel ashamed for calling myself a newbie foodie and yet tonight was the first time I dined at Earl Canteen (being one of the most talked about places in Melbourne and all). However, it’s never too late, especially when it’s Earl Canteen’s first night doing dinner! Lucky enough for us (group of 5 people), we were able to snatch a table outside without making a booking. Unlucky enough for us as well, it was a cold and rainy Friday evening and being stupid as I am, I didn’t really wear very much. I can’t complain though because we had such a wonderful meal :). The staff were the most friendly of people and the food, well, I don’t even have to say anything about that, let the photos speak for itself! So I shamelessly and happily added myself to the forever growing Earl Canteen blogger family, with in excess of 30 or so blog posts about the place right now, and counting.
Hidden behind the NAB building at 500 Bourke St, it took a little bit of effort to find (i’m a directionless chicken when it comes to finding places). The location is painfully close to my old work that it makes me want to go back there! Why didn’t I eat here last year?! Oh wait, it was because I was hardly in the office.
It was very hard to decide which sandwich to go with since every one of them could make my mouth water. I settled for the new addition to the menu as recommended by the waiter – the Earl Luxe – with southern rock lobster, Yarra Valley salmon roe, watercress, beurre blanc and ciabatta bread. Lobsters are in season and is one of my favourite seafoods. With the added bonus of fresh salmon roe, I was in sandwich heaven. The tastes were subtle, not at all overpowered by the sauce or any of the ingredients in particular, but also unmistakably lobster in flavour. The bread was crunchy on the outside and soft inside, complimenting the rest of the ingredients very well. It also wasn’t messy like the steak sandwich Daz got. Ah, I just wish Yuye didn’t eat most of it when I asked if he wanted a try. >:( This sandwich was $27.50, about double the price of the rest but of course, it was lobster.
Three of my companions, including Yuye, got the famous pork belly sandwiches for $13.50 each. This sandwich consisted of a crispy skin Otway pork belly, apple, cabbage and fennel coleslaw and wilted silverbeet in baguette bread. The bread was a little tougher than mine but was still lovely. I adored, I mean ADORED the crispy skin of the pork. It lived up to the true meaning of crispy and beyond. The meat was tasty and juicy, although I would have preferred a bit of gravy to go with it (but that’s just me).
Daz got the REAL steak sandwich for $13.50, with of course, real grilled skirt steak, caramelised onion, provolone, beetroot, tomato, cos and mustard in a focaccia bread. I didn’t taste this but according to Daz, it was juicy and tasty with the steak cooked to medium rare. The whole time he was eating it, delicious and deep red beetroot juice was flowing out onto the plate. Wish I had asked for a piece to try! He didn’t use the steak knife provided at all because the steak was tender enough to bite.
He also got a Holgate premium beer with the meal, which is proudly Australian made. Holgate Brewhouse is located in Woodend in the Macedon Ranges of Victoria, very close to the famous Hanging Rock which I will be blogging about at some stage, it’s a beautiful place.
Daz also got a fresh asparagus salad to go with his sandwich to which he described as ‘delicious’. I guess it’s because asparagus is currently in season and they looked very fresh. While topped with proscuitto, parmesan, egg, anchovies and olive oil, how can a dish like this not taste good right?
Batasan also got a a tomato salad to go with his (it seems like looking at Earl Canteen’s menu makes us want to be healthy, a definite reason for coming back :D). It consisted of various tomatoes topped with basil, olive oil and fiore di burrata (as corrected by batasan, thanks!). He didn’t really say anything about the taste so I can’t comment, but it certainly looked very refreshing and appeals to my tastebuds (tomatoes are my favourite :D).
After dinner, it was inevitably dessert time. We decided to get one of each of the tarts and one of each macarons available on the menu to share. The tarts were vanilla creme brulee, chocolate mousse and lemon tart with blueberries in that order. The creme brulee was beautiful, the surface was a layer of crunchy sugar burnt to perfection and the creme was rich but not too sweet, exactly like a normal creme brulee except with pastry on the bottom. The chocolate mousse was very rich indeed, a bit too rich for some of the guys but I loved it. Dark chocolate heaven! The lemon tart looked exactly the same as the creme brulee except with blueberries, so we expected it to taste something similar too. We were totally wrong. The tangy, sourness of the lemon hit my tastebuds like a bomb. It was oh so very tasty….my tastebuds can still feel the tingling! All the tarts were $4 each, such value too!
There were only 4 macarons available for purchase separately at $2.50 each and they were baileys, raspberry and chocolate, salted caramel and pistachio (from 12 o’clock in a closewise direction). The baileys was the best flavour there. It actually tasted like the real thing! I’m sure the police would be after me if I ate a few more of these :P. In equal 2nd were pistachio and salted caramel, both were beautifully rich in their own flavours but not overly sweet. Raspberry was also nice, but was a bit too dense and didn’t really taste like chocolate (more like raspberry jam). Raspberry’s normally not my favourite flavour because it tends to become overpowering, which is just the nature of the fruit really. The size of these macarons are a little bit smaller than the ones available at the Hardware Societe and I must admit, I’m still the biggest fan of Hardware Societe’s pistachio macarons.
We also got coffees and teas – I got a latte while Yuye got a chamomile tea and Batasan got a cappuccino. Batasan and I unanimously agreed that the coffees at Earl Canteen were fantastic. It has been a while since I had such a good coffee. The people working in the NAB building and nearby are so very lucky! The tea was also very aromatic and nice, but coffee all the way for me. One little issue that Batasan seemed concerned with was the fact that the waiter didn’t bring out sugar with our coffees. Although this was no concern for me since I don’t drink coffees with sugar anymore anyway. I find it cleans my palate while I’m eating desserts.
Oh I forgot to mention that there were actually more flavours of macarons that were not on the menu. Not sure why that’s the case but you can only get these as a pre-wrapped set for take-away. As I was determined to try every single one of their flavours, I ended up getting the set of 10 for $25.00 (same price of $2.50 each as the menu items). The additional flavours (which I’ve yet to try) are peach, jasmine and coffee. The waiter was kind enough to write the flavours down for us in order, and I was also stupid enough to take the photo with the macarons upside down. If you’re reading the list of flavours, they go in the opposite direction :S.
Overall, this was a fantastic experience and Earl Canteen was not at all overrated. If I ever felt like a sandwich, I would come back here for one. The ingredients were fresh, tasty and prepared with love, not something that can be said for most other takeaway/sandwich places in the CBD.
One little surprise was the fact that I got to meet Lorraine from Not Quite Nigella who was dining inside after a day of promotions for Cornetto at Fed Square. She was such a lovely person and her blog is also one of my favourite reads – a true inspiration for new bloggers like myself :).
Phone: (03) 9600 1995
500 Bourke Steet (enter via Lt Bourke), Melbourne CBD