big lou’s butcher shop
I recently went on a food blogger date with Janice from Good Eat and Andy from Andy Eats A Lot. We decided to make a little tour of Gastown, with visits to places that were on our respective to-eat-at lists — the first of these visits was to Big Lou’s Butcher Shop, which, along with Meat and Bread, is one of the artisan sandwich shops popping up around Vancouver, and particularly Gastown, as of late. As its name suggests, and unlike Meat and Bread, Big Lou’s is a butcher shop as well as a sandwich shop, and if the meat coolers showcasing the day’s cuts weren’t enough, passerby can also watch the butchers practice their trade through a window fronting the street.
I’ve always wondered if the taste/cost ratio of small butcher shops like this stack up to Costco frozen meats. Will I be able to tell the difference? I’ll have to try it sometime, but all this meat makes the carnivore in me hungry. Big Lou’s also has a blackboard listing the “unusual” meats that are available — livers, tongues, and other assorted sweetbread things. Just so you know, there is no actual bread involved in sweetbreads.
Big Lou’s also fills custom picnic baskets for your summer romantic frolic at English Bay. They also come in these sweet picnic baskets. I want one and I don’t even picnic.
Of course, the stars of the show here were the sandwiches. This is the Cubano (slow roasted pork shoulder, sliced ham, spicy mayo, Swiss cheese, pickles). The pork here was delicious; not too tough, as the slow roasting served to tenderize the often tougher cut of meat that is the shoulder. For some reason, the Swiss cheese in this sandwich refrained from overpowering as it usually does, but instead played nicely with the other flavours. The pickles were the deal-maker, here. The touch of brine cut through the oil and umami of the meat and cheese, preventing the sandwich from becoming progressively heavier and a chore to eat. I think banana peppers would be even better in this role, as the spicy mayo didn’t really make much of an impact here. I actually couldn’t taste any hint of heat at all.
If you’re in the Gastown area and have some carnivorous cravings, you should definitely check out Big Lou’s either to pick up a steak for dinner or to try one of their excellent sandwiches. Maybe you’ll even stop there on the way to a picnic…