Whenever I find myself in the Hastings-Sunrise area, or as it’s been newly named “The East Village”, I always get that neigbourhood feeling. My reason for being there this time was to hit The Red Wagon Restaurant for a sandwich I’d been hearing a lot about and a beer that’s been a favorite since it first hit the shelves.
The Red Wagon Restaurant is a true “neighbourhood joint”, with a super friendly staff and a loyal customer base that is often lined up out the door. I headed in to try the Crisp Pork Belly Sandwich, a soft, fresh baguette loaded with cured pork belly that’s deep fried to give it a crispy outer crust with soft and tender inside. The sandwich comes with pickled veg, jalapeño, cilantro and mayo, and house made chips on the side.
The first thing that hit me when it arrived at the table was the smell, it was intoxicating. The pork belly was piled high, and glistening. The meat was fatty and delicious, with a texture that’s unmatched by any other meat. There was great heat from the jalapeno, and the pickled veg was nice and tangy. I really enjoyed that the bread was super soft, it made it easy to bite through, but then you got a nice crunch from the crispy pork belly.
My beer choice on this occasion was the Phillips Hop Circle IPA, and if you’ve had this beer before, you know that it’s an IPA that doesn’t shy away from the hops. It has a serious hop nose as well as an intense hop finish. But, it’s not a heavy ale, it finishes nice and crisp which was a perfect match for this sandwich. The intensity of the hops cut through the fat from the pork belly but doesn’t compete with the pork’s flavor. These two went together even better than I expected. The bold flavors from both end up standing up to each other without giving up any of their defining characteristics.
Something that made this combination even better was when I found out from Red Wagon Chef Brad, that these items are both his favorite sandwich and his favorite beer that they serve. So if you’re looking for the chef’s picks at Red Wagon, then head on in for This Sandwich and That Beer.
Also, catch my monthly radio feature on “Just Here For The Beer Radio” on AM650.
Photo Credits: Mel Yap