There are few times you should overlook a sandwich that includes some form of fried vegetable. If you’ve ever had the good fortune of scoring a Friday special zucchini fritter panini from Lucia’s in the Adelaide Central Market, you know what I’m talking about. It’s an unexpected explosion of texture and flavour, packed to the brim and capable of dislocating your jaw. It’s Friday, after all.

But on this particular Friday I was in the suburbs hauling barrows of dirt from the front yard to the back, and I was feeling grateful for the relatively short distance between my cousin’s yard and Prospect’s Bottega Bandito. I insisted my partner get the sopressa sandwich – my go-to order – and used the opportunity to try something new. Big moves for a habitual same-order gal like me.

Imagine my delight at copping an eggplant sando, and one that was available all week long. Hidden under the shade of my cousin’s porch, I unwrapped the greaseproof wrapping paper to unveil the delightfully springy house-made sourdough focaccia – a staple at Bottega since day one, baked in the woodfired pizza oven next door. As soon as I took my first bite, I was filled with regret. Regret that I’d agreed to go halves with my partner and that his portion was already in his belly.

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I devoured that eggplant sando, curry mayo and tomato kasundi dripping down my chin and bits of white cabbage escaping between my fingers, without a single care in the world. How did they get an eggplant sandwich so crunchy? How did they get the acidity just right?

Head chef Michael Henderson describes the eggplant sando as an “exploration”, with the keen meat-loving team wanting to create a vegetarian offering that could stand up to its much-loved sopressa sibling. Looking back to popular dishes from their menus across Anchovy Bandit and Bandito, they took inspiration from the chicken cotoletta and bumped up the crunch factor with a raw cabbage slaw.

Crunchy fried discs of breaded eggplant are slathered in kasundi, an Indian mustard sauce made from San Marzano tomatoes (it’s an Italian-inspired deli, after all) – a perfectly zingy condiment that adds brightness and acidity to the slaw and focaccia combo.

It’s a sandwich that packs a punch, a heap of crunch, and stands very much on its own, thank you very much. Now please excuse me, I have kasundi dripping down my arms.