The original Richmond location of Smokehouse Sandwich Co. has a big following and I’ve been meaning to try it for a couple years. They opened up a more convenient downtown location back in March but I was actually reminded this week about it from three different sources: a really cool dude posted a SocialShopper coupon for it on Facebook, and two different trusty Instagrammers posted their sandwiches over the past week. That black charcoal bun really stands out!
TLDR: I wanted to like it more than I did. Underseasoned meat, brisket sandwich was dry, but good chips and strawberry & mint drink.
I never buy Groupons or SocialShopper offers. I see it as a sign of desperation from businesses, and I hardly ever see Groupons from restaurants I actually want to eat at. I really don’t mind paying a fair price for good food. I’m not a deal-chaser. But I made an exception this time because I was headed to Smokehouse Sandwich anyways. Weird coincidence.
Smokehouse Sandwich Co. is located in the Cathedral Place building on Georgia near Burrard, just beside the Christ Church Cathedral. Look for the burgundy sign.
They also have their own app that you can use to order online.
Clientelle is mostly office workers. The location is kinda hidden, so I can’t picture many tourists or even locals eating here if they didn’t live or work in the area.
The menu (which is also available on their website).
Today’s soup was Cream of Mushroom. I can’t even remember the last time I bought a soup. It’s gotta be a damn good soup if I’m gonna pay good money for it! 😛 Now that I think about it, the last good soup I had was the lentil soup from Adbul’s BBQ at Crystal Mall, which they stopped making last year 🙁
You get the choice of three buns: regular white bun, charcoal bun, or high fibre bun. The charcoal bun looks scary cool.
I used to love the black charcoal ramen at Motomachi Shokudo. The charcoal is supposed to help cleanse toxins from your body…whatever the hell that means. I got the charcoal bun for kicks.
High fibre bun if you’re feeling backed-up. #assplosion
If you’re on a trendy health kick, there’s also kombucha for $6.99.
I got a Strawberry & Mint drink in the “fizzy” option ($3.99). It comes unmixed in a mason jar (which leaked a bit as I shook it).
After it’s shaken it looks like this. It was my favourite part of the meal. Really fresh-tasting and refreshing. Not too sweet. Hint of mint.
It’s counter-service here, so you pick up your sandwiches at the end of the counter where they also have cutlery and two different hot sauces (red and green).
I tasted a bit of each and they’re both vinegar-based hot sauces. Good but nothing really distinctive about them. They’re also quite watery. Something thicker, like the sambal at Meat & Bread, might be easier to add to a sandwich without it getting too drippy.
The Samson with “Coffee-Crusted Strawberry-Glazed Beef Brisket, Aioli, Red Bell Peppers & Lettuce” ($9.99) on a charcoal bun. The buns here are lightly toasted, which gives a nice bit of texture. Apparently they make their own buns, which I gotta give props to cuz this was a good, soft, and fluffy bun. You can’t taste any charcoal — it’s strictly for looks…and any imagined health benefits.
They put a bit of gravy/sauce on the brisket but I couldn’t really taste it. The brisket is sliced thinly…about 2-3mm thick. I didn’t detect that much smokiness. There’s just enough meat in the sandwich to satisfy. You can get double meat for $4 more.
I really appreciated that they use red leaf lettuce here and not iceberg.
The brisket sandwich was dry — even with the aioli on both bun halves and the smidge of sauce on the brisket. I definitely wouldn’t suggest they put more aioli to compensate for the dryness…I don’t want to be eating eight tablespoons of aioli for lunch. I’m not sure what would correct this. More bbq-type sauce? Fattier cut of brisket? Don’t pre-cut the brisket? Don’t slice it so thin? Bland, dry, and not particularly flavourful.
Good thing I had the drink to wash it down. It’s a tasty drink. There were lots of strawberry seeds at the bottom of my jar.
The Billie with “Salt Cured Pork Belly, Aioli, Salsa & Lettuce” ($9.99) on a regular white bun. The salsa here barely qualifies as a pico de gallo, and just tastes like chunks of tomato.
The pork belly is sliced thin and very tender. Almost too tender. It was also underseasoned so it tasted like a pile of soft, bland meat.
The whole time I was thinking, “should I go grab the salt shaker?” but I decided that I’d tough it out and see if these sandwiches improved once I worked my way to the “sweet spot”. I never found the sweet spot.
Their chips (which they call “Crisp”, $2.99) are yellow potatoes fried in olive oil. Good chips. Crispy and not too greasy. Medium thickness. But going with the theme here, these were underseasoned. Some people might appreciate their laidback flavour but I wanted more saltiness. That salt shaker was beckoning me. Big serving though. I wouldn’t dare eat this many chips in one sitting. 😛
Asian Slaw with “Shredded Daikon Radish & Carrots pickled in Rice Vinegar” ($2.99). A crunchy slaw topped with crushed chips and a generous squirt of that ubiquitous aioli. The daikon and carrots were really lacking in acidity. Bland. Even the aioli they have here is on the bland side. Quite a disappointment.
On the positive side, Smokehouse Sandwich has a view of this beautiful hidden courtyard which seems like a quiet oasis that only people working in the surrounding buildings know about.
I’d come back here with my own food to chill out.
Sandwiches have to be more than a sum of its parts. Everything’s gotta work together to create a delicious exponential explosion. The sandwiches I had at Smokehouse were merely a collection of bland parts. It’s a shame cuz they look amazing and photograph really well.
Have you tried the original Richmond location of Smokehouse Sandwich Co.? Was your experience different from mine? Let me know in the comments.
I must be a hard person to please as far as sandwiches go. They really have to be something special for me to buy them again and again. The porchetta sandwich at Meat & Bread is a personal top pick, as is the banh mi dac biet at Banh Mi Saigon. Both are examples of sandwiches that really work. Let’s look at them, shall we?