Cordeaux Social Club has only been open since late October, but the West End hideaway’s savvy blend of day-time deli sandwiches and an evening bistro menu has been steadily winning over locals. Add in its wine bar vibe and the soon-to-open backyard dining and you’ve got a blissfully sunny hang with finely tuned dishes and drops to back it up.
All of that made Cordeaux an obvious choice when Broadsheet commissioned a trio of limited-time sandwiches inspired by the Chicago-style Italian beef sandwich in the returning season of The Bear. The fast-paced drama follows the anxious journey of Carmen “Carmy” Berzatto, a young New York chef who must abruptly exit the fine-dining world to run his late brother’s gritty Chicago sandwich shop with a staff stubbornly set in their ways.
Season two of FX’s The Bear – streaming now on Disney+ – sees Carmy and his team working towards a whole new operation that reconciles the chef’s two very different worlds of food. But in true Bear style, friction and chaos are never far from the surface, both in and outside the kitchen.
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“He’s worked in the fine-dining side of things, and in these high-stress environments,” says Cordeaux Social Club owner and chef Michael Jokovich. “I think we can all relate. He walked away from that and he’s just stripping it back to what makes him happy.”
When Jokovich came up with a Bear-inspired sandwich for Cordeaux, he of course drew on Chicago’s classic Italian beef sandwich – complete with the soft roll and warming jus – while also hitting all the personal sweet spots of Cordeaux itself. That means smoking the meat and pickling the veggies in-house and using fresh sourdough bread.
“It’s such a classic dish – if it’s not broke, don’t fix it,” Jokovich says. “But there were a couple of aspects we wanted to build on. We do a lot of meat smoking at the shop and always have an element of smoke in at least one or two of our menu items. So we added a bit of smoke to the meat before we braised it. We kept a lot of the traditional elements of it, like the braised beef and the giardiniera [pickled vegetables] and the bread.”
Cordeaux sources all its meat locally from Meat at Billy’s and all its produce locally from Providore Princess, and it balances baking its own sourdough focaccia with sourcing other bread from a handful of small local providers. As Jokovich promised, the limited-time Cordeaux Smoked Beef Sandwich doesn’t reinvent the sandwich so much as put the eatery’s own signature spin on it.
The chef starts by marinating boneless chuck steak overnight in a house seasoning blend (including garlic, onion and paprika), with mustard as a binding agent. Then it goes into the smoker until medium rare, before being seared, cooled, thinly sliced and finished au jus made from simmered-down pan drippings and beef stock. Finally it’s topped with pickled veggies (fennel, carrot, jalapeno and green Sicilian olives) and served in a fresh sourdough baguette.
“The salty, sweet, hot blend of pickles really cuts through the richness of the beef and jus,” says Jokovich. “We love our sourdough and figured the humble sourdough baguette would be the perfect vehicle for this creation. Lightly toasted before serving, the sourdough has a great bite to it and holds its integrity when piled with the beef and jus.”
He makes sure to note that the smoking element isn’t too intense – same with the hot jus. “We simmer it down overnight so it’s nice and rich,” he says. “It’s got a deep flavour to it, but it’s not overpowering. All the flavours bounce off each other. It’s really light.”
As part of Australia’s current boom in deli-style sandwich shops, Cordeaux is thriving on Montague Road in a somewhat secluded pocket of West End. Along with the backyard dining set to commence in late July, the restaurant has just earned a licence extension until 10pm. The Bear-inspired Cordeaux Smoked Beef Sandwich will shine in place of a popular smoked beef sandwich that’s been on the menu before, although that one featured gruyere cheese and gravy on a potato roll.
Before opening Cordeaux, Jokovich did a stint living and working in New York, where he really got to know various regional American dishes and sandwiches. His staff is similarly worldly too. “We’ve all spent a lot of time travelling abroad, and there are a few sandwiches that really stuck out to us,” he says. “One of them was the Italian beef from Chicago. We love food travel, and we did want to bring that back home with us. That was a big motivation for us: just to serve the dishes that we loved overseas.”
The Cordeaux Smoked Beef Sandwich will be available from Thursday 27th July to Sunday 30th July at Cordeaux Social Club, in Brisbane’s West End.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Disney+. Stream the new season of FX’s The Bear on Disney+ now.