the olive vs big bite

mainpictureI was never very good at being fair. I figure that, somehow, it's ingrained in me to have favourites. And then to have exceptions to my favourites. I originally, some weeks or maybe months ago, thought to conduct a battle of the sandwiches. The Olive vs Big Bite. The elegance of the Strand vs the sandwich shop in close vicinity of a *ahem* strip club. But the photos I've taken tell a sad, sorry story of favouritism.

The Olive is what some may call an institution. Like many sandwicheries (is that a word?) it has its list of standards plus the option to create your own. The first time I hit up The Olive was with my sometimes-food-fanatic-friend A. We wisely arrived just after midday. "To beat the lunchtime rush" she informed me, with a sage nod.

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the menu at The Olive

We bought a sandwich each. Meatball. With lettuce, bocconcini and deep fried zucchini slices. Oh! The zucchini! I would go back to The Olive just for the wonderful crisp outer shell that gives way to the sweet mushy green insides that are ensconced in that roll! *ahem*.

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meatball on rosetta $8.20

I ate one half, and then two mouthfuls of the other before tossing the bun and pulling away at the insides. She ate one half, and then saved the rest for "afternoon tea". In truth, she was still so full at afternoon tea time that it ended up being the next day's lunch. I honestly don't know how she did eat it the next day, the meatball sauce (so good at the beginning) had rendered my half-roll an close to soppy mess just half an hour later.

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a lunchtime queue at The Olive

We've also, since then, had the chicken schnitzel. A little dry on the insides and missing the wonder that is the deep fried zucchini (let's not start this rant again) but a decent sandwich nonetheless, and at a decent price.

Upon hearing our tales of sandwich glory, I was quickly, and authoritatively, told that yes, The Olive was good, but Big Bite was better. Oh. Really? With this information in hand, we made a sammich date. In the park. Topics for discussion: bread, fillings, fullness.

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the menu at Big Bite

By prior agreement, A & I had decided to share a sammich. After all, Big Bite sammiches were bigger than Olive sammiches, and we'd only just finished one Olive sammich between us. There were, that day, two chicken sammiches. One grilled, one schnitzel.

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grilled chicken $8.50

Let me tell you this. 30c buys a whole lot more sammich. M had decided on the grilled chicken sandwich, but not before deciding on the roast beef special, and not before tossing another (since forgotten one) into the medley. "It's the best one" he had told us, when A & I were debating which to get. The grilled chicken comes on freshly cut slices of either white or wholemeal bread, each measuring about 15cm x 20cm and cut 2cm-ish thick. Slices of grilled chicken are doused in basil oil and accompanied by lemon & chive mayo, roma tomatoes, mixed lettuce, rocket and snow pea sprouts. It's big, and by the look on M's face, it's also delicious.

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chicken schnitzel $8.50

A & I had chosen the chicken schnitzel. But not before choosing the grilled chicken, and debating a couple of others besides. It comes complete with the same accompaniments as the grilled chicken. So, your regular chicken schnitzel sammich. Or not. Because instead of receiving one large chicken breast, flour-ed egg-ed crumb-ed fri-ed, you get bits of chicken. BITS! So extra crumbiness and extra moist in the chicken. Absolute. Genius.

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the omnipresent lunchtime line at Big Bite

Sometime later that week, we (being the boys & I) found ourselves back in the queue at Big Bite. Sans A. I wasn't too sure about how this was going to play out. Neither of the boys was keen on having a sammich-and-a-half, and I wasn't too keen on carrying a half eaten sammich around with me on a Friday afternoon. So, after contemplating my plight for a bit, I ventured "maybe you guys get Big Bite, and I'll get Oportos and we'll sit in the park and eat". I could've cut that silence with a breadknife. "You do not" said M, looking at me incredulously, "wait for 10 minutes in a line at Big Bite to eat Oportos". "Maybe get the salmon" they said later "it's not so filling".

Well, that was that settled then.

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sammich ladies at Big Bite

Another tussle between choices. A bustle of ladies "yes please?" they call when free. And with lightning fingers, they slice up the bread, slather on the filings and wrap the whole lot into a mass of aluminium foil. A friendly face waits at the end, handing out the parcels and collecting money. M is well known about these parts, having partaken in many a Big Bite mission previously. "For you, $25!" says the friendly face when handed our three big fat parcels. And so, it was with two salmons, a sausage special and 2m of aluminium foil later, that we were on our way to the park to unpack our goodies.

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italian sausage special $8.50

M holds his sammich up for me to photograph. "Now that's a sandwich" he says approvingly. And then later "Real Italian sausage!" and later still, when I counted three whole sausages snuggled in between the slices of wholemeal "Mmmmhmmm. What did you expect? One?" And he was right. You don't get a sandwich with one sausage in it at Big Bite. Silly me.

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smoked salmon $8.50

According to the menu, I had a smoked salmon sandwich with basil oil, lemon & chive mayonnaise, roma tomatoes, mixed lettuce, rocket & snow pea sprouts. I don't know if they were being generous, or if changing tastes have warranted new creations, but what I did get was smoked salmon with lemon & chive mayonnaise, roma tomatoes, mixed lettuce, capers, spanish onion and cucumber. "Capers!" I exclaimed on opening. "There are capers in my sammich!" The boys looked bemused. "Very good" they said. "Are you going to eat it now?"

So I did. And it was good. There was no scrimping on the ingredients, no soggy bits of bread falling apart at your fingertips. And this is what clinched it for me. Both Big Bite & Olive bring generously filled sandwiches to the fore. The ingredients are fresh, the flavours are carefully calculated for maximum tastebud tantalisation. The meats are seasoned well, and cooked well. But the bread at Big Bite. Those chunky fantastic soft and fresh, sturdy and satisfying pieces mean that any sandwich you get at Big Bite will be a good one.

So, like the perennial favouritist that I am, I'm throwing my vote Big Bite's way. And, if you were wondering, I did manage to finish my salmon sammich that Friday. Though I was uncomfortably full about 20 minutes later when everything decided to expand in my stomach.

But don't be fooled. I'll be back at The Olive yet. Even if only for that gorgeous, golden deep fried zucchini.

The Olive
Shop 18, Strand Arcade
Off Pitt St Mall / George St
Sydney NSW 2000
ph 02 9231 2962

Big Bite on Pitt
Shop 3, 250 Pitt Street
Sydney NSW 2000
ph 02 9283 4700

10 bites more:

Belle said...

The size of that sausage sandwich is unbelievable, you wouldn’t need to eat for days after that. And now I know why they cover the sandwiches in foil – there isn’t any lunch paper bag that’s big enough!

Karen said...

That's a whole lotta sandwiches to get through! Lol sandwicherie...don't think it's a word but it should be :)

Lorraine@NotQuiteNigella said...

Oh my! Look at that gallery of sandwiches and lol at the size of the Italian sausage one. I also feel compelled to have favourites. To me nothing is ever really the same so I admire those that research ;)

FFichiban said...

Mmm must try Big Bite! Have you tried Little Vienna? Heard they make a pretty mean sandoichi as well

Howard said...

There is another big sanger place on Bridge St I think ? Opposite the Maccas. I think you need to complete the big sanger pilgramage :D

shez said...

Belle: it's massive. truly ginormous. and yet M munched all the way through it (quite happily even) and then still had room for dinner. i don't. understand.

Karen: I'm just glad I didn't have to eat them all myself. (Though they were really quite tasty).

Lorraine: you'd think all sandwiches would be the same right (bread, filling, bread)? They're such a simple meal. But then *bam!* variety! (And 1x massive carb-overload.)

FFichiban: I haven't - though will swing the idea past the boys to see if they're up for it. Go Big Bite! You won't be hungry at the end of it :)

Howard: *groan* more sammiches? Well... okay... I guess...

Simon said...

Would saying that the Italian sausage sandwich is huge be somewhat of an understatement? I don't think I've yet to have the pleasure of a sandwich that I'd have to dislocate my jaw for. Now I know where to find one if I ever do :)

shez said...

Simon: it's way too big for me! M, however, found it just right for a Friday lunch (that said, he eats like he has worms, so not sure how much help that is!)

Simon said...

Shez,

Thanks for the tip. I'll know where to go to sate my hunger if I'm infested with worms :)

shez said...

Simon: No worries. The worms will love it :)

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