Earl Canteen

I caused some controversy recently because I wrote an article for Time Out on the top ten sandwiches in Melbourne.  In the name of research, I devoured a whole lot of sandwich and agonised over the list but it turns out people are very passionate about the humble sanga and so I have copped a little bit of criticism from Time Out’s readers.

The famous Earl pork belly sandwich but without the usual cabbage accompaniments

What wasn’t controversial was the inclusion of a sandwich from Earl Canteen as number one on the list.  Earl really has set the bar for seriously gourmet sandwiches in Melbourne made using restaurant quality ingredients.  It’s probably no surprise given that the place is named after the Earl of Sandwich, credited with the creation of this lunch time institution.

The meat ball sandwich in all its deep fried glory

My only dilemma really was which Earl sandwich to include.  I finally settled on the meatball sandwich ($12.50), one of Earl’s newest menu items.  It features fat, juicy meatballs made from veal and porcini, teamed with deep fried onion rings, smothered in a three-cheese sauce and encased in a crusty Dench baguette. It’s some serious dude food but it’s great.  The other new menu addition is a rather fancy fish finger sandwich ($12) made using crisp, beer battered flathead fillets and a dollop of tangy perserved lemon tartare.

Roast chicken and chips

The most famous Earl sandwich is the pork belly ($13.50) and it is certainly made with fabulous tender pork and the most crispy of cracklings.  However I have found it is so full on that it can result in a case of the meat sweats.  I prefer the chicken and chips ($13) sandwich which is a very British combination of  roast free-range chicken, crushed peas and potato crisps.  The key ingredient though is a smear of bacon marmalade – sheer salty but sweet genius.

Chocolate and raspberry friand

There are a couple of non sandwich options on the menu and Earl also does a good line in cakes and macarons.  The chocolate and strawberry friand is moist with a really rich flavour and the macaron flavours most recently featured the very addictive salted caramel.   The only downside to Earl is the high prices which mean I might go bankrupt if I eat there every lunch time.

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Details: Earl Canteen, 500 Bourke Street  Melbourne 3000 (Ph 03 9600 1995)
Damage: Reasonable

EARL Canteen on Urbanspoon


  1. That meatball sandwich sounds dangerously, dangerously good. Next time you’re in Sydney, check out the meatball sandwich at Sonoma. Would be interested to see how your expert palette compares them….

  2. It’s hard to please everyone with top-ten lists! But by golly… that meatball sandwich looks amazing!

  3. Those top 10 lists are so prone to criticism aren’t they!

  4. It’s hard to please everyone 🙂 Unfortunately last time I went to Earl Canteen I didn’t like it much >_< i wonder if it's because I didn't order the Pork Belly and had a chicken baguette hehe I'm definitely going to go back and try again!

  5. Roast chicken and chips? Great idea! I miss Earl Canteen. And don’t worry about others… everyone always have something to say

  6. Tori – I am there in August so will put it straight on the list

    Leaf – Not just hard, impossible. Yes it was delicious.

    Lorraine – Everyone’s top ten is different I think…. which is a good thing.

    Daisy – Yes you can never please everyone. What a shame you did not like Earl, yes maybe try the pork belly next time?

    Penny – I know, so wrong but so good!

  7. I can’t wait to try Earl Canteen in August when I visit Melbourne. The sandwiches all look delicious. I am leaning toward to chicken and chips, but I may not be able to pass up on the meatball sandwich 🙂

  8. I think I need to hit up Earl Canteen when I visit Melbourne next weekend – I love that they have free range meat.

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