Kitchen Takeover: Big City Sandwich

Even as the seasons are changing, enthusiasm for food trucks in Edmonton continues. Interestingly enough, the truck that is propelling that momentum into autumn isn’t really a truck at all!

Well, at least not yet. Chris Delaney, owner of Big City Sandwich, will be launching his truck in May 2012. Until then, to help generate some income (and excitement!), he will be taking over kitchens all over town so diners can start getting to know his food (it’s so great that restaurants are open to this concept – it sounds like the arrangement is that the establishment earns the liquor revenue while Chris takes home the food balance). Last month, Chris served a Cuban braised pork sandwich at The Bend Lounge. On Sunday, he was banging out eats at Packrat Louie – Mack and I had to check it out.

Big City Sandwich

Packrat Louie (with small Big City Sandwich signs in the window)

We arrived just after 5pm to a half-full dining room. In hindsight, getting there early was the best decision we could have made; the lobby was soon buzzing with diners waiting for tables – I don’t think I’ve ever seen Packrat Louie so busy!

Instead of the usual silverware, linens and wine glasses, the place settings were made up of a disposable fork and napkin, a reminder of the casual nature of the meal we were about to have.

Big City Sandwich

Place setting

On the menu that night: a smoked beef brisket sandwich with bacon jam ($8), although there was also a vegetarian option. Mack and I both upgraded to a combo ($12) so we were able to select two of the three available sides: Big City beans, slaw or fries (we chose the latter two).

Big City Sandwich

Menu

Our orders arrived in biodegradable boxes. The sandwich was topped with a cheesy jalapeno popper which was so tasty (and perfect for someone like me who can’t handle heat). The brisket itself was wonderfully tender, and Mack and I both agreed that the smoky-sweet bacon jam helped elevate the sandwich. The fried onion straws were also a great crunchy addition. That said, the weak link for me was the bread – it was a little too big, and a touch dry.

Big City Sandwich

Beef brisket sandwich

The kitchen was extremely generous with the serving sizes of the sides. The fries had been tossed with some seasoning, but as far as we were concerned, nothing else besides the chipotle mayo was needed. We’re not sure if it is Chris’s signature dipping sauce, but it could definitely become his equivalent of Drift’s house tomato sauce. Not surprisingly, I enjoyed the slaw more than Mack did – I loved the light but creamy dressing, and the unique inclusions of both bell peppers and cilantro in the mix.

Big City Sandwich

A combo box

They were also offering a dessert – pumpkin ginger whoopie pies ($3) from Bluebird Cakes. Mack and I shared one, and found that the dominant flavour was definitely ginger. The cake itself had a good texture though, soft and doughy.

Big City Sandwich

Pumpkin ginger whoopie pie

Based on the response that night, I can’t imagine the line-ups the truck will have when it debuts next year. But until then, according to Liane’s article, Big City Sandwich will be taking over another kitchen near you on November 27. Make sure to get there early!

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