Gastown gastown gastown... what an odd relationship we've had... I once had so much hatred for this little cobblestone historical district in Vancouver mostly due to it's sheer tourist-y nothingness. A strip of brick-paved street filled left and right with overpriced Cuban cigar shops, "tourists-eh?" gaude-chandise, and all the snap-lovin' Japanese tourists you ever need.
Yet recently, it's become a hot-bed of new shops and sexy restaurants catering to the needs of the many cooler-than-they-have-to-be denizens of Vancouver aiming for their vaults of disposable income. Shops that specialize in SoHo/MoMA-like furniture, clothes, baby clothes, sneakers, and ridiculously overpriced limited edition T-shirts are beginning to proliferate. These shops offer the merest distractions for me from the main event - the food. Two of my favourite places in town are located within a block of each other and today, it's Greedy Pig's time to shine.
A small and dark (as is common with everything in Gastown) shop with loft-like ceilings, Greedy Pig is most well-known for their weekday lunch sandwiches, as well as a large selection of charcuterie and cheeses procured from all the local best (Oyama, Les Amis du Fromage...). There's also this loving devotion to all thing porcine (gotta live up to the name after all) with a pig pot pie dish made of stewed hamhocks that just screams heart attack... literally... I'm quite certain I heard the ghosts of foodies long-past scream away once you cracked the pastry shell.
Now their specialties definitely lie in their artisan sandwiches. Anyone can slap some cold cuts between two pieces of bread, but it takes a true artist and sandwich-fanatic to properly maintain texture, meat and sauce ratios so what you create on-plate isn't just your typical PB&J, but a whole new entity taking all the bests of each ingredient and evolving it to a whole new creation. That's exactly what keeps me coming back to Greedy Pig. Sandwich perfection. These are possibly the greatest sandwiches I've had in my life and here are their stories.
Pulled pork artisan sandwich:
I hate coleslaw. I don't hate the vegetables, but I have a general hatred of mayo, and 90% of the slaw out there is just these beautifully crisp shreds of vegetables left to soak in disgusting, sludgy mayo leaving a lump of whiteness that's pretty much like tryign to swallow a mushed-out pom-pom. Disgusting. At GP though, a freshly made slaw, going very light on the aioli allows the apples and fennel to shine with a slight tartness and crunch still coming through. The pork is exquisitely tender, and with the perfect amount of sauce covering it - not glorped on as is barbecue-house tradition, thus enabling you to taste everything between the bread on each bite - the apples, the fennel, the pork, the aioli and the barbecue sauce. Amazing.
Duck confit panini artisan sandwich:
To take things in the other direction, I LOOOOOOOOOVE duck. Love it. Love it love it love it. It's not even just a Chinese thing - it's just one of life's perfect meats. Then you take it and poach it in duck fat? Holy crap. I'm not a big cherry fan myself, let alone sour cherries as the sourness usually overwhelms me, but at this point, I've learned to put all my trust in the genuises behind the veil and I was not disappointed... much... The cherries were very flavourful and not very sour by any measure, but sadly I found them to still overpower the flavour of the duck. It's still a d*mn fine sandwich, but I wouldn't necessarily order it again.
Truffled roast beef artisan sandwich:
Now the sandwiches aren't terribly large here, but combined with a drink and the side mesclun salad, it usually serves me quite well, and the memory of the flavours gets me through the rest of the day. That being said. Truffles. If you've never had truffles, it's a very very rare mushroom that... I'm just gonna say it's really expensive. It also has a very distinctive and pungent odour that has a tendency to permeate a room when it's present (in this case, a drop of truffle oil can cause immediate salivation). Well the fellow beside us decided to order this sandwich after we'd already eaten and well... holy hell we couldn't help it and we ordered one to split among us, and it did not disappoint. Every bite gave us that truffle-ocity that we were hunting for, and the perfectly medium rare slices of carved roast beef did the rest. Tremendous flavour in each bite.
Braised angus short rib entree:
My friend and I had dinner here once, and I have to say that though strong, their strength is certainly their lunch sandwiches. That being said, I still very much enjoyed their evening offerings. Braised short rib seems to be the big ingredient of the last few years and I have absolutely no issues with that. I'm a sucker for easy-to-eat meat and short rib pretty much offers everything I could ever want. A small-ish portion, yet still incredibly tender, laying on top of a thick brown butter puree - tremendous flavours all around, and the tartness of the salad vinaigrette offers a palate cleanser between bites if needed. Very good, but nothing special.
Pig pot pie:
Now I didn't order this celebration of southern comfort, but my friend summed it up nicely with: "very porky." What more do you need?
Greedy Pig is only open for lunch on weekdays so sadly if you work a 9-5 out of downtown, you're sadly out of luck as it's dinner-only on Saturday and Sunday. But to a certain extent, I'd ask you to seriously consider the option of a long lunch, or perhaps stepping out for a "meeting" and checking out Greedy Pig as soon as you can in Gastown on 307 W Cordova.