Whilst they don’t boast the most fashionable of fit-outs, the Anne’s Pantry chain has a secret weapon – it’s fresh filled Baguettes and yummy Banh Mi. The Crispy Pork is worth checking out – but beware of the chilli!
Location: 2/139 Union Rd, Surrey Hills, VIC 3127 Ph: (03) 9890 1225 Also at: 425 Whitehorse Rd, Balwyn, VIC 3103 Ph: (03) 9836 8594 & 189 Middleborough Rd, Box Hill South, VIC 3128 Ph: (03) 7014 0780 & 239 High St, Ashburton, VIC 3147 Ph: (03) 9943 3252
If you live in the Eastern suburbs of Melbourne, you must aware that sandwiches, in one form or another, are really having a moment. From Richmond over to Box Hill, gourmet sandwiches, filled bagels and stuffed paninis are a thriving lunch-time trend.
So I have to admit that when Anne’s Pantry opened an outlet on High Street, Ashburton, I was a bit under-whelmed. The shopfront and interior did not promise much. Perhaps I’m more of a slave to food fashion than I’d like to admit as the branding and deco all looked out-dated and unexciting when I walked past.
Cafe openings in Melbourne these days tend to be all about sleek lines, designer quirks and trying to create an aesthetic that sets a new dining spot apart from neighbouring businesses. In contrast, Anne’s Pantry seemed more like the kind of place where you’d take your gran for an iced bun and a cup of tea. Not that’s there’s anything wrong with that.
But it also seemed a bit surprising. You see, there’s a definite renaissance happening in once sleepy Ashy. A rash of new bars and cafes have changed the dynamics of – what has always been a great local shopping centre – into a place with a where people come to eat and drink.
If you want to make deli-style toasted sandwiches at home, a Breville Sandwich/Panini Press & Toastie Maker will set you in the right direction. Great for quick lunches and delicious snacks.
A bit of research revealed that the first Anne’s Pantry opened in Surry Hills back in 1929. Now, longevity like that, usually means that the cafe is doing something right. Add to this the fact that the business now has stores in Box Hill South and Balwyn, as well as Surry Hills and Ashburton. Clearly there is demand for whatever it is that the Anne’s Pantry team are doing.
And demand there certainly is. Because come lunchtime, there’s a steady stream of tradies, home workers and stay-at-home parents weaving in and out of the cafe’s doors.
So what’s the appeal?
Word of mouth is a wonderful thing in the cafe recommendation game, and we were soon hearing that Anne’s Pantry has a secret weapon.
Seriously yummy, freshly made banh mi.
Yes, Anne’s Pantry do great range of filled baguettes in general, but it is their take on a Vietnamese banh mi that are flying out the door.
Now at Eatability, we love any variation on a sandwich – be it a sliced bread cheese and ham toastie, a stack of roasted veggies and pesto wedged between 2 pieces of artisan sourdough, or a chicken schnitzel crammed into a milk bun. All that said, we have a genuine passion for banh mi.
There is something irresistible about the crunch of a well-made baguette, filled with pate, roast meat, carrot, cucumber, Asian herbs, dressing and chilli – if you’re brave enough.
At Anne’s Pantry, they whip up BBQ Chicken, BBQ Pork, Tofu and – our go to- Crispy Pork versions. And yes. We always have the chilli, though we sometimes live to regret it.
If banh mi doesn’t do it for you, there is an extensive range alternative baguettes. The Tandoori Chicken is really tasty and the Turkey, complete with cranberry sauce, alway goes down well.
All the filled baguettes cost a flat $10.40.
And if you’re not feeling the love for gluten, at $4.20 each they make a selection of Rice Paper Rolls. Our favourite is the Prawn paired with Chilli Mayo.
Beyond these items, the menu also has Focaccias, Wraps, Salads and a decent array of Pies. Even better, both the Beef and Chicken Pies ($22.00) also come in a ‘Family’ size, as do 4 types of quiche.
At a time when some eateries are arguably focusing too much on fashion and looks and not enough of honest, flavoursome food, Anne’s Pantry is a welcome addition to any local parade of shops.
Grab lunch at one of their outlets and you’ll get fresh, wholesome, delicious fare at a budget-friendly price.
Just make sure you don’t skimp on the chilli.
For excellent sandwiches of a different type, see our review of Hank’s Cafe & Bagelry over in Armadale