CARVED Ropemaker Place, Hanover Street East, Dublin 2 Five stars Food: €21.40; Drinks: €6
So off the Boss and I go across the Samuel Beckett Bridge on a boiling hot afternoon, suitably enthused and looking forward to a cracking nosh-up. Straight off we’re struck by the Carved premises. Stylish and functional without looking impersonal, with minimum seating inside and sufficiently more outside.
The menu is short and sweet, and thankfully there’s nothing eye-widening about the price tags either — all sambos are €8.95, veggie salad bowls €7.95, and meaty salad bowls €10.95. But what about those sambos? We decide on the featherblade beef and the veggie caprese. Both are pretty much assembled immediately, an impressive feat considering the place is already jammers.
The heated sourdough buns are the perfect vehicles for the oncoming quantity of hefty fillings — soft and yielding, yet strong enough to deal with the task.
And do they taste good? Oh boy do they taste good. The featherblade is crammed with a stupendous wodge of pulled beef slow-cooked to fall-apart perfection, spun through with a richly flavoured gravy, topped with cheddar, rocket leaves, a lash of sweetly caramelised onions and a blob of pungent garlic aïoli. I ask for some pesto because, as we all know, every sandwich tastes better with pesto.
The end result is what happens when a humble sandwich has lofty ambitions. It is an absolute showstopper and with more meat than is even decent, a contender for best sambo in the city. I almost feel the same way about the Boss’s veggie caprese. A gorgeous assemblage of creamy mozzarella, beef tomatoes, rocket and yet more of that delicious pesto. Also a serious contender.
Every time I think we have reached sandwich nirvana, another brilliant example appears around the corner. Usually with an everyday sambo, just by adding a few tasty bits and bobs, even at home, you have a good chance of ending up with something better than you started with. At Carved it is different. Here they are bringing the supposedly simple as near to perfect as possible. I would describe their sambos firstly as pretty darn close to unimprovable, and secondly as huge two-fisted jobbies with juice and sauce and gorgeous pesto-y goo oozing out all over.
Luckily because of attention to detail and the crafty way they wrap their sambos, very little of the scrumptious mess escapes down your hands or up your arms — important details when rushing back to a desk. We also share a portion of baby spud roasties that would grace the tables of any restaurant in the city.
Sitting outside to enjoy our Cloud Picker coffees, we notice there are probably more takeaways and pre-ordered collections than there are eat-ins.
Numbers don’t lie (unless you are a bit of a Boris) and the food here does the talking. Like I said earlier, Carved is different — and their sandwiches are delightfully different.