This article was originally published in February 2021.
It’s easy to get stuck in a lunch rut. Even more so now that Covid-19 has shifted the office paradigm and obliged many of us to work from home. Skip the lifeless supermarket sandwiches and mix up your midday mangeaille with these five delicious workday lunch options.
1. Proper panini from Mangiobevo
When it comes to good Italian food, generosity is an ingredient; an intangible element that transforms whatever you’re eating into more than the sum of its parts. And it’s what makes jaw dislocation not only possible, but likely, when you tackle a chunky, crusty panini from Mangiobevo.
Great bread, loaded with well-considered combinations of classic Italian fillings – think good quality smallgoods, cheeses, antipasti and homemade pesto – make a sandwich from the wide selection offered by this pint-sized Italian deli a delicious weekday feed.
A word of warning: don’t attempt the 490-gram ‘Mangiobevo’ special (porchetta, pecorino cheese, sundried tomatoes, marinated artichokes, homemade basil pesto, fresh tomatoes, and salad) with an afternoon of meetings scheduled. This is a lunch that demands your full attention, and after one bite, Ian From Accounting will get none of it.
Snack hack: The folks at Mangiobevo stick true to the Italian food commandment of simplicity. Adding your own condiments may be sacrilegious, but a lash of mustard on the crowd favourite ‘Bologna’ gives its delicate folds of mortadella a satisfying kick.
2. Foul médanas from OBeirut
Pity this poor dish’s English translation (it’s Arabic name is fūl, pronounced ‘fool’) because it’s far from foul or offensive to the senses.
Foul is a stew of fava beans cooked with an assortment of chopped parsley, garlic, onion, lemon juice, chili pepper, cumin and sometimes other vegetable, herb and spice ingredients.
Obeirut do a tangy, saucy version that, like a good foul should be, is simultaneously both light and rich. Although traditionally a breakfast dish, it makes for a satisfying work lunch that transports you from spreadsheets to the sands of the Levant.
In some places around the world Lebanese cuisine doesn’t get the respect it deserves because it’s often so cheap. Not an issue we need to concern ourselves with in Switzerland, especially at Obeirut. But with a side of soft, fresh Lebanese bread to scoop up the savoury stew coming in at only 1.60 CHF, and foul being a vegetarian dish (meaning no expensive meat), it’ll leave you with plenty of francs to save for your next trip to the Paris of the East.
Snack hack: The foul is light, so ordering Obeirut’s crispy-on-the-outside, spongy-on-the-inside falafel will add more heft to your lunch (dip it in the foul, it totally works). But at 4.80 CHF for a single – admittedly substantial – falafel, it’s lucky the main event is good value.
3. Chicken and leek skewers from Oniwa
Sushi usually rolls into the spotlight when it comes to food from the hosts of our next Olympics. So as residents of the HQ of the five-ring circus, us Lausanners should consider it our civic duty to get in the spirit and explore some of the less ubiquitous (but no less tasty) corners of Japanese cuisine.
Kushiyaki – grilled meats and vegetables on sticks – is one such example. Oniwa offers a handful of kushiyaki: the soy and honey chicken option is an obvious choice, but the bolder flavours of the chicken and leek yakitori make it the standout. Chunks of juicy thigh meat are threaded between morsels of soft, creamy leek that delivers an umami depth thanks to char from the grill.
Why does eating things off a stick make them more enjoyable? I don’t know, but putting a bit of levity in your lunch break with these savoury skewers is a nice escape from being a Very Busy And Important Adult. They also double as toothpicks, so you can make sure your teeth are nice and clean for your next Zoom meeting.
Snack hack: Oniwa also offer sake, so clear your work calendar and make an afternoon of it. Alternatively, plan ahead and grab a bottle from the very decent sake selection at Uchitomi (Rue Grand-Saint-Jean 4).
4. The Classic Banh Mi from Bamee Bistro
Ah, banh mi – the legendary Vietnamese sandwich. Beloved the world over as a reliable, uncomplicated, mouthwatering workday feed. They’re cheap, they’re tasty, and they beat out most other sandwiches on the flavour and texture fronts.
One of the best examples of these southeastern Asian supersubs we’ve found in Lausanne is The Classic from Bamee Bistro. It ticks all the right banh mi boxes with two types of pork (roasted and cured) a hearty slathering of pâté, mayo and a fistful of crunchy salad.
While we haven’t found a banh mi in Lausanne that fully delivers the mysterious funk and herbal-chili kick that the offerings of Saigon, Sydney or San Franciso do, The Classic from Bamee it still very much a stomach-pleasing two-hander.
Snack hack: Add some of the aforementioned chili kick with a hearty squeeze of Thailand’s gift to the world – sriracha sauce.
5. Pasadena burger from Inglewood
Some say Inglewood does the best burgers in Lausanne. It’s a claim we do not take lightly, and it’s not one we are going to make in this article. Such a bold statement requires planning, strategy, much serious burger eating and, after being published, probably lawyers and bodyguards.
What we will claim is that after a long morning listening to an I Hate My Job playlist the Pasadena from Inglewood is the nourishment your body and soul needs. A nicely charred, medium-rare beef patty is the main attraction, and the addition of just a few choice ingredients (cheddar, salad leaves, tomato, onion) lets the high-quality meat take centre stage.
There are plenty of other burger options on Inglewood’s menu, all tasty and all of varying degrees of heartiness (the fromage à raclette on the Valaisan is heavy going but undeniably delicious). But it’s the simplicity of the Pasadena that makes it a great workday option: easily able to satiate a workday appetite but unlikely to put you in a post-lunch coma.
Snack hack: It’s a scientific fact that bacon makes everything better. The folks at Inglewood are more than happy to add it to your burger. Go on. You’ve earned it.