When John Montagu wanted something convenient to eat that would allow him to continue playing cards without getting them greasy, the Fourth Earl of Sandwich only thought about putting some meat between two slices of bread. How ironic, then, that something as elaborate as Railtown Cafe’s Reuben or chicken clubhouse should carry his name. For “bread and meat” or “bread and cheese” do little justice to describing these sandwiches from the East Side’s newest lunch counter.
Bocuse d’Or chefs Alex Chen, Ben Côté and Dan Olson crafted a simple menu showcasing five made-to-order sandwiches and six salads, each featuring sous-vide proteins. The “build your own” salad bar option lets you get more creative, while three soup choices allow you to have a heartier meal. Recommended refreshments are the daily lemonade and daily iced tea made with freshly-squeezed juices. For classic coffee breaks, an array of pastries baked in-house daily with fair-trade, organic Moja Coffee will get you through the mid-day slump.
The interior was designed by Lisa Nakamura with as many local materials as possible. Union Wood provided pieces from the Gastown Hotel and the Glenrose Cannery. Reclaimed metal from dismantled local factories were used to create items, such as the menu boards and seat bases. A noteworthy design feature is the custom Kim Ridgewell wallpaper highlighting the cafe’s recipes, favourite cuts of meat, and the sous-vide cooking method.
Railtown Cafe is the first storefront for the Étuvé Group, a sous-vide food production company founded by Chef Ben Côté in 2002 to supply other Vancouver chefs and food service operators. It evolved to include a catering company and a Bocuse d’Or-style kitchen used by Canada’s top chefs to practise for the world’s most elite culinary competition held every two years in Lyon, France.