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Mikkayla reviews: Rusty’s Sandwich Parlour — ‘a sanga experience you’ll soon be craving again’

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Rusty’s Sandwich Parlour
189 Nicholson Street, Brunswick East

The sandwich is the greatest food creation in the history of mankind, perfect in every way. it can be tailored to serve any taste; tweaked to suit any dietary requirement; can be served hot or cold; eaten with both hands or grasped in one… it is quite possibly the only universally-enjoyed food with a 100% approval rating.

Whilst there is debate about the origins of the very first sandwich, we’re largely in agreement that the individual responsible for popularising this glorious creation in 1762 was John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich. Legend has it that the man had such a crippling gambling addiction that he would spend hours at the card table, refusing to take a break even for food, instead asking his valet to bring him some meat tucked between two slices of bread so that he could continue playing cards without having to navigate cutlery, and without making the cards greasy. G-E-N-I-U-S. I wonder if the Earl knew that he would be the namesake of an item that has never gone out of fashion – which, in fact, experiences resurgence’s in popularity and trends more than anything else in the world.

Rusty’s Sandwich Parlour in Brunswick is a prime example of a place that confidently knows what it does best and staunchly sticks to its strengths. The humble eatery – that was built entirely from up-cycled materials – is not quite a grab-and-go style place with each sandwich made fresh, but there are stools out the front to sit while you wait, and plenty of standing room inside. While it’s not actively encouraged to take your sanga and run, it’s definitely a place that has embraced the casual on-the-run diner: office workers, tradies, the busy parent, or just a local resident in the know.

There are ten sandwiches on the menu, including a brekky option that’s only available till 11.30, and an extra option for the kids. You can choose to get a serving of fries that are served with dollops of a delicious vegan sriracha mayo ($6 or $4 with a sandwich!). The drink options are either a freshly brewed coffee (ethically-brewed beans from the Richmond-based These Days Coffee Roasters) or your choice of 6 cold. And that’s it. It’s unfussy, extremely unpretentious, manned by two guys on the grill and one on the register. There’s a large pile of buns ready to be grilled and filled on the bench, and a bigger pile of boxes that I assume they spend their time assembling and slapping stickers on between orders. A menu with ten items is a risky move – but this sandwich list is so well planned, that everyone who comes in will find something they like.

There’s your classic ham off the bone, cheese and chutney option. Beer braised turkey with criola – a type of Latin American inspired salsa made up of onion, capsicum, tomato and garlic. And a spicy school prawn option, with avocado, sour cream and pickled jalapeños. Then there are some more daring options.

Juicy chicken tenders are marinated in buttermilk, coated in their special seasoning and then fried till golden. Partnered with a slaw and jalapeño mix, it’s delightfully messy and deliriously delicious. The Cubano is the big winner though – orange braised pork, slow cooked until tender and then fried on the grill is paired with Swiss cheese, pickles and a sultry Dijon mustard. It is glorious to behold and a joy to consume. It would please the staunchest of carnivores, and possibly even tempt a few non-meat eaters.

I did, however, say there were options to suit all tastes. Rusty’s offers 4 (FOUR!) vegan options. A 40% vegan friendly menu is incredible. Their beet Reuben is a clever take on the corned-beef classic: layered up with beetroot, kraut, a vegan mozzarella and of course, Russian dressing. It’s not lacking in depth or flavour – a truly genius spin. A sausage option substitutes in vegan salami, a vegan fior di latte, watercress & chilli jam – these days, the ‘fake meat’ products can be extremely convincing, and the guys at Rusty’s chose well here.

An avocado and & charred corn salsa paired with fresh coriander, mint & watercress feels lacking in something – but maybe I’m just too used to my avocado served with a side of bacon and eggs… but the mushroom escabeche with vegan feta & watercress is a hearty offering proving once more that mushrooms are nature’s meat.

The humble sandwich shop, once a popular feature of the local milk bar (or ‘corner shop’ as a NSW-raised gal), has experienced a spectacular glow-up in recent times. No longer a last-minute option with steel containers filled with soggy lettuce, questionable egg, tinned beetroot and too much margarine, they are now deliberate destinations for hungry diners looking for a delicious, reliable meal. Rusty’s is generous in portion sizes, service and on the pocket with their prices ranging between $12 – $16, and gluten-free bun options available. A truly wonderful little inclusion to this inner-city suburb, Rusty’s delivers a sanga experience you’ll soon be craving again.

Rusty’s Sandwich Parlous is open Monday – Friday 8AM – 3PM, and Saturday – Sunday 9AM – 2PM

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