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The Ten Dollar Sandwich

It's Cheap Eats review time again. I've been reviewing for them for about five years, but this year I'm finding that inflation has pushed a lot of places out of the $30 for 2-courses category. Waiters shrug and mumble about fuel prices and troubles on the land, but there's been a slow creep.

It started with the humble sandwich. With the discovery of the focaccia, bread-based meals jumped the $5 mark. Cafe owners warmed to the idea like the slabs of bread pressed under a griller and soon you could get the Italian bread in almost every two-bit place for a price of seven bits. A couple of iterations followed - the baguette, the panini and the wrap - nudging the price up a dollar or so each, but no-one ever thought they'd actually break the ten buck limit. It was the hospitality equivalent of the sound barrier.

I thought there would have to be some new innovation to do it: styling sandwiches into a dosa cone or throwing on an unecessary side dish ('Do you want a side of rambutan fries with that?'). But it seems the dull work of inflation has done what no sandwich-hand could ever achieve. With a couple of 'gourmet' ingredients (think asparagus or even humble turkey) and you'll pay more than a tenner for your quick lunch option in Melbourne CBD.

Don't even start on coffee.

To combat this Cheap Eats has developed the new one-course wonder category. Two courses is still doable for inside $30, but more often you'll find a single course will break the 'cheap eat' label. It's a good idea, but will price creep push people out of restaurants and back into packed lunches?


  1. At least there's something in a sandwich! I can't get over how many places are charging over $6 for toast! TOAST! I know they don't actually want people to buy it but sometimes you just feel like a bit of toast with your coffee. I DON'T CARE IF IT IS FROM DENCH! Sorry for yelling. I also have a secret plan to steal into the kitchens of Melbourne's cafes at night and twist all their pepper grinders half a twist tighter; I'm so tired of half and whole peppercorns in my food. It's not rustic, it's annoying. I'd also steal all the smoked salmon while I was there and burn it in a big oily pile of mediocre smoked salmon or perhaps I'd try melting it down for biofuel... Viva la breakfast souffle. More of them I say. x

  2. Damn straight. I paid 7.50 for toast the other day. Sure it came with stewed rhubarb, but it was still called toast. Why not give it a name like flambeed bread with a side of preserved strawberry if you want to charge that kind of money?


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