Monty's Sandwich Shop, Bondi Junction, Sydney
If you're not a fussy eater, the problem with Monty's Sandwich Shop is that all the sandwiches sound terrific. They're made with thick-cut bread, crusty baguette or toasted panini baked in-house daily. There's a regular sandwich menu and daily specials, all prepared with generosity and pride. The sandwiches are mostly around the AU$9 mark and the pleasure is well worth it.
The towering fellow at the counter taking the orders is James, always happy to make a recommendation if you need help deciding.
The daily specials are announced on Monty's Facebook page and posted up on the board to the right of the counter. Regular customers look forward to Schiddy Monday, which always features a chicken schiddy (schnitzel) sandwich, either with herb mayonnaise, lettuce and tomato or with chilli mayo and rocket, and Reuben Tuesday, featuring New York's famous Reuben sandwich of corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, mustard and pickles. International flavour day brings a delicious surprise - how does roast leg of lamb with roast potato, gravy and mint sauce sound? Or North African harissa spiced chicken with spiced eggplant, or Moroccan spiced leg of lamb and baby spinach, served warm?
On cold wet days when only a hot lunch truly satisfies, there are hot roast meat sandwich specials, served on a warm baguette or toasted panini to warm and fill your belly and bring comfort in gloomy weather. One such special that would make me wish for bad weather has been hot roast pork with caramelized apple and onion. And now that winter's blown in, there's soup of the day too.
My Sydney friends Caroline and Craig have told me about a rare and sought-after special, served only on the most glorious days when there's sunshine and the brightest bluest sky, when you can't help wishing you were out picnicking instead of stuck in the office: the simple but so evocative egg mayo with mustard cress and cucumber. Another special has been Monty's surprise (well, maybe not so surprising) fastest-selling sandwich: the rather delectable-sounding sweet soy roast pork with beansprouts and ribboned carrot, which now makes regular guest appearances.
I didn't even attempt to hide my envy as I told Craig and Caroline they've scored the weekday lunch jackpot, having Monty's within walking distance to work. After hearing all about Monty's amazing sandwiches for months, I craved to taste them for myself. There were three essential events on my itinerary for my three-day stay in Sydney in March (everything else was slotted around these items) - Singapore Takeout, dinner at Chinta Ria...Mood for Love and lunch at Monty's Sandwich Shop.
We ordered three sandwiches to share. I'd already seen what the day's special of the day was on Facebook and there was absolutely no question what our first choice would be: wood smoked bacon with poached chicken and smashed egg (AU$9.50). The white vienna bread was chunky and held the fillings together wonderfully well but its heavenly texture has left an imprint in my food memory - it was like a fluffy pillow, incredibly soft and light, almost chiffon-like, the stuff of sandwich fantasies.
We ordered the chicken, pancetta, avocado and aioli (AU$8.95) on baguette. The bread was filled liberally with the tasty creamy chicken and aioli mix and stuffed with fresh rocket.
One sandwich on my radar was tiger prawn salad with lime and coriander (AU$9.95). Regular readers know I'm a staunch coriander hater. But the lure of tiger prawns smothered in mayonnaise was irresistible and Craig and Caroline assured me the coriander flavour is more subtle than strong in this sandwich. They were right. And there's something so decadent and special about eating a prawn sandwich for lunch.
We sliced each half sandwich into two, ate a quarter each and then each chose one of the remaining quarters. As the guest, I had first choice and although I liked all three, was torn between the prawns and the special of the day - I chose the special. Caroline chose her beloved tiger prawns and so Craig had the chicken and pancetta baguette.
As we cut the prawn salad sandwich in half, the prawns and lettuce spilled out, as the sandwich quickly went from handsome to higgledy-piggledy. It was messy but fun and so very scrumptious and when we were done, it was smiles all around with not a morsel of prawn, shred of lettuce or drop of mayo left on that wooden board.
Monty's gets its name from the 4th Earl of Sandwich, John Montague, after whom the sandwich was apparently named. I'm sure most of you have heard the legendary tale of the origin of the sandwich: during a long game of poker, the earl asked his servant to bring him some meat sliced between two pieces of bread so he could eat with one hand while holding his cards in the other - and so the very first sandwich was created.
A good sandwich need not be overly complicated and at Monty's, simplicity shines with the quality of the ingredients and thoughtful, tasty combinations. Monty's sandwiches were extraordinarily good, the bread superbly fresh, the fillings abundant and well seasoned. I foresee a train trip to Bondi Junction next time I'm in Sydney, quite possibly around lunch time. Jac, who loves sandwiches even more than me, can't wait to taste Monty's tiger prawn salad sandwich.
If you like sandwiches, I reckon you'll love Monty's. Definitely worth a visit.
What's your favourite sandwich?
Monty's Sandwich Shop
52 Spring Street
Bondi Junction NSW 2022
Phone: 0437 455 177
Monday 7.30am to 4pm
Tuesday 7.30am to 4pm
Wednesday 7.30am to 4pm
Thursday 7.30am to 4pm
Friday 7.30am to 4pm
Saturday 9am to 4pm
Sunday - closed