Melbourne is a city sliced in two by the Yarra River, and a weird cultural divide lies just below the surface.
Many inner city dwellers tend to set up shop on the north side or the south side, and stay put. Very little will lure their lazy bones across the murky brown waters of that underwhelming waterway. A funeral might do it. Or perhaps a particularly enticing warehouse sale.
But I have discovered one thing that I will personally cross the Yarra for: the greatest toasted sandwich I’ve ever eaten.
It was by chance that I encountered it. While wandering around Melbourne’s Prahran Market one weekend, I slowly realised pretty much everyone I passed had a toasted sandwich in their fist.
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This sandwich literally stopped one bloke in his tracks. His eyes rolled towards the sky and I swear I saw a small tear form in the corner of his eye. And with that it became my life’s mission to track down that sanga.
I found it smack bang in the middle of the market at a specialty cheese shop called Maker & Monger. A queue of people were patiently lining up, and because I have lemming tendencies, I joined the back of the queue.
The classic toastie is their ‘All American’ ($14). It wins because it’s a simple combination of outstanding ingredients: Vermont cheddars, onions and parsley on sourdough bread with cultured butter and finished with Murray River sea salt.
The All American at Maker and Monger is one of the most popular.Source:Instagram
If you want to branch out, I can highly recommend the ‘Seasonal’ ($15) with swiss brown mushrooms, chat potatoes, Raclette, mozzarella and thyme. It’s a total carbohydrate carnival.
The ‘Fondue special’ toastie ($15) which uses free range Berkshire ham off the bone is described on TripAdvisor by one devotee as “the best sandwich I have ever had in my life”.
On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays they do a ‘Flaming Rueben’ ($15) which is crisped to perfection with a blow torch, and a ‘Cubano’ ($16.50), using top notch meats from Gary’s Meats.
The Flaming Reuben & Truffle Brioche Toastie at Maker and Monger is a fan favourite.Source:Instagram
So if you ever find yourself south of the Yarra in Melbourne, be sure to hunt down these toasties. Even if you’re overly enthusiastic and burn your mouth on it like I did, you just can’t stay mad with such utter perfection.
*This is absolutely beside the point, but a chef friend once told me the secret to a great toastie is using mayonnaise on the outside instead of butter. I was dubious at first but damn, the man was correct. It’s easier to spread evenly and crisps up beautifully. A total revelation.
Other amazing toasties around the country
Penny’s Cheese Shop, NSW
This grilled cheese toastie has amassed a somewhat cult-like following since it first arose at the Potts Point cheese specialty store. The toastie is a foray into the cheese realm and features a trifecta of Gruyere, cheddar, and raclette encased in chewy sourdough and topped with a further handful of cheese. Only ten of these bad boys are made daily, so get in quick to avoid missing out. pennyscheeseshop.com.au
This toasted sanga from Pennys Cheese Shop in Sydney is next level.Source:Instagram
Tasmania’s much loved modern art haunt MONA isn’t just worth a visit for its cultural offerings alone, the Hobart institution also does a damn good toastie. Served as a part of the museum’s reserved Wine Bar, this bread-laden dish is curiously dubbed pumpkin Pete’s jaffle and consists of the heady pairing of confit duck cassoulet and comté cheese. It’s not a light meal, but who needs light when you can have delicious. mona.net.au
Toastface Grillah, Western Australia
So passionate about the toastie is this Perth hole-in-the-wall that its menu offers nothing else. Evidently a fan of K.I.S.S (keep it simple, stupid), there are eight toasties on offer here, each consisting of a simple trio of ingredients. While it’s hard to go wrong with a good old fashioned ham and cheese (accompanied by mustard), the more patriotic among will no doubt instead head straight for the Get Yo Veg (cheese and vegemite). toastfacegrillah.com
Ok the ultimate of grilled cheese indulgence.Source:Instagram
Melt Brothers Grilled Cheese Co, Queensland
Brisbane CBD’s Melt Brothers was launched by (you guessed it) blood relations and passionate toastie fans Felix and Justin Kong. Inspired by the decadent grilled cheese sandwiches of New York, the duo wanted to offer the same to Australians back home with a store dedicated to the jaffle. Our menu pick? The US-inspired macaroni and cheese, with maple bacon, smokey barbecue sauce, aioli and aged cheddar. meltbrothers.com.au
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