Dirty Apron Delicatessen (Cooking School/Mini Market/Delicatessen)

Restaurant: Dirty Apron Delicatessen
Cuisine: Sandwiches/Deli/Soup
Last visited: December 28, 2010
Location: Vancouver, BC (Gastown/Downtown)
Address: 540 Beatty Street
Price Range: $10 or less

1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!

Food: 4.5 (based on 2 sandwiches)
Service: 3
Ambiance: 4
Overall: 4.5
Additional comments:

  • “Self service”
  • Specializes in sandwiches
  • Gourmet deli meats
  • Pre-made sandwiches
  • Pre-made sides
  • Good quality ingredients
  • Fresh ingredients
  • Freshly baked bread
  • Baguettes until 4pm only
  • Mini gourmet foods market
  • Cooking school attached
  • Casual “dining room”
  • Quick/casual
  • Eat in/Take Out
  • Mon-Fri 10am-8pm (not 6pm like website says)

**Recommendations: Prosciutto Grilled Sandwich

Sandwiches. They’re indeed making a comeback in Vancouver and it could be perhaps one of the major food trends of this year (well now last year). I’ve been meaning to hit up Meat & Bread (the other new sandwich shop in Gastown) before the new year arrived, but unfortunately they were closed until January 4, 2011. So I had to find a replacement to settle my craving for a gourmet sandwich.

I didn’t forget about the “original” sandwich places in Gastown like Brioche Urban Baking & Catering or Finch’s Tea & Coffee House, just to name a couple, but I wanted to try something new. There was hype surrounding the sandwiches at the newly opened Dirty Apron Delicatessen, and originally I wanted to hit up Meat and Bread and Dirty Apron Delicatessen on the same day, but I just couldn’t wait any longer.

Dirty Apron Delicatessen is brought to Vancouver by the owners of 2 of my favourite restaurants in Vancouver, Chambar and Cafe Medina just next door, so I was anticipating perfection. (Give them a couple more years and I think they’ll own the entire Beatty Street block.) The Dirty Apron actually triples as a cooking school, and of course now a mini gourmet specialty foods market and a delicatessen. My visit was specifically to check out the delicatessen though.

It’s actually a deli counter and I kind of wish that the sandwiches weren’t all pre-made. I was hoping to see a made upon order operation where I could select my toppings, bread and cheese, or at the very least watch them prepare it. I mean it’s not really too big of a deal, but I just prefer my sandwiches assembled upon order and not just grilled upon order. The ingredients are fresh and high quality and they’re a decent size as well. I think I was just expecting something like Salumi Artisan Cured Meats in Seattle, WA.

The baguettes are only served until 4pm because that’s when the bakery stops making them. All the bread is freshly baked on site and I had originally come to check out their baguette sandwiches. However since I came for dinner I was limited to ordering the grilled sandwiches which are available throughout the day. Considering the quality of ingredients, and also the fact that it’s part of the “Chambar” brand, the prices are quite reasonable and expected. I think it would be nice if they included sides, which can be purchased separately and vary daily from beet salad, cous cous, roasted yams, soup etc.

It sure looks like a to-go place only, but they actually have a rustic “dining room” for customers to sit and enjoy their sandwiches. It’s casual, self-service with long communal tables. I almost felt like I was in an adult cafeteria… or a prison for the privileged.

On the table:

Prosciutto Grilled Sandwich & Hummus Grilled Sandwich

**Prosciutto Grilled Sandwich – 5/6

  • Prosciutto, figs, watercress, Cambozola Cheese, balsamic onions $8.99
  • It was excellent, but just pricey.
  • It was a great balance of salty and sweet flavours with a subtle tang from balsamic and nuttiness from the bread, which was a highlight for me.
  • The bread was a fig, cranberry and walnut bread so it was nutty and sweet especially after being grilled. It was very crispy and it’s made in house, however there were only a couple walnuts in it. I actually like the amount of walnuts in the bread Creme de la Crumb uses in their Grilled Steak & Blue Cheese Sandwich for $6.95, although their walnut bread is not made in house.
  • I liked the buttery prosciutto, but it actually wasn’t that salty and more meaty in flavour. It was nice with the ooey gooey strong thick slices of creamy melted Cambozola Cheese which has the texture of Brie and flavour of a medium Blue Cheese. The fresh and crispy watercresss and balsamic onions helped cut the richness of the meat and cheese.
  • The sweet fig jam was good, but there wasn’t enough because although I got the hint of sweetness I didn’t get the texture or flavour of the figs.
  • Other than the figs, there was a pretty decent balance of ingredients and I could taste the meatiness of the prosciutto without there being a whole lot, but considering it’s called a prosciutto sandwich and they do highlight the deli, I thought there would be more.

Hummus Grilled Sandwich – 4.5/6 (but I did like the prosciutto slightly more)

  • Hummus, avocado, mint, carrots, pomegranate molasses $6.99
  • This was the vegetarian sandwich and the second recommended one after the prosciutto.
  • It was a delicious combination and it had nice Middle Eastern and Lebanese flavours with a bit of California from the avocado.
  • It was very fresh and tangy with a zest of lemon in the hummus, but it also had some spice. It was almost a curried lemon hummus with a mild-medium heat, so it wasn’t overly spicy, but still had a kick. It’s quite herby and the accent of mint was apparent, but not overwhelming and it complemented the freshness of the lemon well.
  • It was balanced with some semi-caramelized and crunchy onions which were coated in a pomegranate molasses that was syrupy with tangy and sweet notes. It almost made for another layer of sauce which was nice.
  • It’s a pretty creamy sandwich with the chunk of ripe avocado and hummus and I think it would be delicious if they put some falafels or deep fried chick peas in there too for more of a crunch rather than just relying on the crunchy toasted bread and carrots, which were a bit overwhelming. I’d pay the extra $1 for that.
  • It was very flavourful, but their wasn’t enough hummus. I also wish they used more avocado because there was only a couple pieces in the middle and only those few bites had the satisfaction of delicious avocado.
  • It was a very good, but it was short an ingredient because it kind of seemed like a Middle Eastern cole slaw in a sandwich.

Coconut Water

  • $1.99
  • I love coconut water and they sell it in their Dirty Apron specialty foods mini market.
  • It’s light, refreshing and slightly sweetened. It’s not as good as coconut juice from an actual coconut, but it’s still good and a lot more convenient.

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