STACKED is a Scout column that aims to dig down into the delicious details of Vancouver’s better sandwiches and burgers. From banh mi and burgers to sliders and reubens, the goal is to craft and catalog an ever-growing an archive of awesome that visitors and locals alike can reference when at their very hungriest. Dig in!
I don’t know why I’ve come to expect sandwich mediocrity from coffee-forward establishments, but I should have known better at Their There, which is owned and operated by the same crew that gave us the superlative AnnaLena on West 1st. Though their baked goods seem to be getting most of social media love (the cinnamon buns and raspberry chocolate cronuts are pretty off the hook), it’s their sando program that really shouldn’t be overlooked. Tasty case in point: the $9 smoked meat breakfast work of art pictured above. Every part of it packs a point. Let’s break it down…
1. A thin slick of Dijon aioli. Because there’s a lot going on in this sandwich (seriously, just look at it), this stuff is hardly perceptible on the palate. It undoubtedly plays a supporting role in adding viscosity to the mouthfeel, but there’s no Dijon punch to it. Not even a gentle slap.
2. When I was a kid, alfalfa sprouts were the gastronomic equivalent of a punch in the neck. Oh, how I hated them! I became acclimatized to their awfulness over time, and now I like them enough to forgive them their early abuses and even purchase them on occasion for home consumption (only when I’m feeling nostalgic for the terrors of childhood). Here, they help keep the meat layer in place (where it might otherwise slide out) while also providing some textural diversity to each bite. The flavour remains as uniquely negligible as always.
3. A golden brown brioche-ish bun. It will make anything you put in it a little bit better. Designed for big loads without being indelicate, it does a fine job here as a sandwich delivery system and would likely shine bright as an all-dressed burger bun. If the French made the Ford F-150 truck, this would be its bun.
4. Hickory smoked beef. I’m not entirely sure of the cut here (knuckle, shoulder?), but I believe it comes from Two Rivers, which is to say the quality is high and you can taste it. The slices are juicy, gentle on the tooth and flavourful with woody/smoky notes that are pronounced enough for it to dominate the sandwich’s competing elements.
5. The right cheese for this beast? Gruyere. The slice is neither humdrum nor savagely stinky, but it definitely announces itself with its characteristic taste and quick-to-wilt texture.
6. Son of a bitch! There’s a perfectly fried egg in there! You wouldn’t know it from the angle of the photo but I promise you it’s in there. With a runny yolk and everything. Just eyeballing this thing for a minute made me forget it was a breakfast sandwich, so biting into it came with a messy revelation and an earnest ‘heck yeah!’
7. Shredded cabbage. Treated to a slight pickling (gentler than a typical curtido), it’s job here is slaw-like, providing a little acid and crunch.