Wednesday, 3 April 2013

EARL Canteen - Corporate Lemmings

When I think of 500 Bourke Street, memories of the former NAB headquarters, Movida Aqui and Paco's Tacos are evoked all with different levels of emotion. The aforementioned culinary delights are accessed via the outdoor area on level one of the eponymous NAB plaza and for the most part I have neglected the shops and cafés on the ground floor with the one notable exception being EARL Canteen

Nestled next to Prime House and across from the Cafenatics franchise, this small but smartly designed café has a varied menu available for dine-in or takeaway for breakfast and lunch on weekdays along with a very limited alcohol menu. Should you be in a rush, which seemingly most of the patrons are when the corporate bell rings and they are allowed an allotted time to be fed from the trough, the display cabinet houses pre-made sandwiches, but in my experience, the bread has always been soft and the fillings a bit more on the premium side compared to other cafés in the area. On my last visit, a Corned Beef Wagyu Beef ($9.50) sandwich which had Moondarra Wagyu beef stood out along with an Egg and Watercress ($8) sandwich.

If you do have the time, take a table if you can secure one either outside in the plaza or inside at one of the few high communal perches. I have found service to be very efficient and friendly in depositing a bottle of water on your table and bringing menus. This time around I opted for the Chicken & Chips ($13) which is a roast free-range chicken, crushed peas, bacon marmalade and potato crisps. Don't be confused thinking that you are going to get a plate with piece of chicken, peas and crisps on the side, all of the elements are presented inside a soft and large bread roll including the crisps. Normally I am adverse to large pieces of bread, but not in the case of the EARL Canteen. I do enjoy the bread and the quality produce that they use to construct the sandwiches and this particular sandwich was really nice and ultimately satisfying with the bacon marmalade the most vexing and playful taste. Why else would I carry on about this place when normally I would type out so many words musing about the places upstairs? Simple. What EARL serves up, is just good.

Besides a couple of entries for piss and plonk on the drinks menu, there is also Hepburn Springs mineral water from the Daylesford area along with organic lemonade ($4) which I find really nice.

With so many places competing for my daytime dollars in the Melbourne CBD, I have always considered EARL a standout considering the produce that they use and the efficiency of the staff - not only in delivering your order to the table or on the rare occasion sorting out takeaway or processing your exit with a Paypass facility. The place just works well.

EARL Canteen, 500 Bourke Street, Melbourne
EARL Canteen
500 Bourke Street, Melbourne VIC 3000
*Enter the plaza via Little William Street, Grice Alley or Little Bourke Street
(03) 9600 1995
My Rating: 13.25/20
Service: 3.5/5
Ambiance: 3.25/5
Quality: 3.5/5
Value For Money: 3/5

Twitter: @epicurean3006
e-mail: epicureanofsouthbank (at) gmail (dot) com

At the time of this post, 83% of the reviewers on Urbanspoon also like EARL Canteen.

EARL Canteen on Urbanspoon