Maybe I just had unrealistic expectations of what a huge Albert's Schloss sandwich should be

If you are anything like me, being told that a sandwich is huge is usually more than enough reason in itself to go and try it out. So when I found out about the skillet sandwiches at Albert’s Schloss - with an emphasis on their chunky size - it was an immediate wish list lunch destination for me.

I’ll be honest here, I have never really considered Albert’s Schloss, in the city centre on the edge of Deansgate, to be a lunchtime spot. I have been there a few times in the past but it’s either been on a hazy Friday or Saturday night for a burger alongside a stein of beer (or two, on a modest night).

But I guess that’s the magic of the lure of a lunchtime deal - it draws you into places you may not have otherwise thought of going. So, trotting into Albert’s Schloss at the middle of the day during the week, I was ready to be enamoured by the aforementioned skillets.

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The toasted sandwich menu consists of five different choices: the 12hr Munich pork, the Alpine Klub, the Klassic Reuben, the Monte Cristo (essentially, a fancy ham and cheese), and the Caprese (tomato, mozzarella and pesto). Each option sounds delightful in its own right, and comes served between thick slices of potato brioche bread which is buttered and then, as the name implies, toasted in a skillet.

Having been told they were 'huge', my expectations for the sando were raised in terms of its size. "It's lunch done right," I had been told. Pondering over the menu, the choice of sandwich eventually came down to three final options. The Alpine Klub, made up of poached chicken, sweet cured back bacon, egg mayonnaise, tomato and Emmental cheese, sounded good but the egg mayo felt like a bit of unnecessary overload for what I was craving.

The Reuben, made of salt beef, gouda, rainbow slaw and mustard mayo, was a real contender but I ultimately chose the pork sandwich for a few reasons that tipped it over the edge. Featuring slow cooked Hofbrau-braised pork shoulder, it is served with mustard mayo, pickles, Emmental and, a particular draw for me, crispy pork crackling.

It also happened to be the recommendation from my server after she saw me mulling over the relatively short list for perhaps a bit longer than anyone else has done before.

Described as ‘lunch done right’ by Albert’s Schloss themselves, the sandwiches aren’t necessarily cheap at £10 but as a treat every now and then, when you’re looking for a place to sit in and soak up the vibes, it’s decent enough. And the warming smell of incense and the log fire in the centre of the venue certainly made for a comforting vibe.

When my pork sandwich arrived on my plate, my first reaction was that it really was nowhere near as huge as I had envisioned it’d be. Photos on social media have shown thick slices of bread, loaded to the brim with toppings, and what I had situated on my plate didn't quite meet that expectation.

How I was expecting the skillets to look
The atmosphere at Albert's Schloss was very chilled and relaxed

Whilst still big enough for a lunch, I did feel slightly cheated as I was expecting a sandwich that a mammoth might struggle to finish off, and ended up with, well, not that. But, sometimes, looks can be deceiving and I didn’t want to write it off just yet.

Tucking in, there was an abundance of flavour. The pork was juicy and tender, with a nice sweetness to it. The saltiness of the pickles complimented the taste, as opposed to being an all out clash. Whilst not exactly ground-breaking, it was a decent sandwich that did the job nicely.

The separate dip of mustard mayo, which sounded nice on paper, however, was far too strong for my taste buds and its bitterness and sharp notes really overwhelmed all of the flavours in the sandwich.

I’m sure the dip will be a hit with those liking strong and hot mustards, but that’s not me and the mayonnaise was left firmly at the side of the sandwich for the rest of the meal. As for the eagerly anticipated pork crackling, I couldn’t tell you whether it was there or not. If it was inside the sandwich, it certainly wasn’t very noticeable both in physical appearance or in taste, which was a real shame.

As I finished up my sandwich, I caught a glimpse of the Klassic Reuben sandwich as it made its way to a nearby table - and it looked a lot more like how I had pictured my sandwich was going to be - thick bread loaded to the brim with fillings.

Again, I felt like I had missed out. Maybe it was the sandwich choice, or maybe I just had unrealistic expectations of what a 'huge' sandwich should be?

But, all in all, despite appearances and besides the dip, the pork sandwich was crammed full of flavours bouncing off each other and was loaded with stringy cheese. The bread, whilst perhaps toasted a little more than I'd have preferred, had a nice crispy crunch to it. Whilst I would have liked it to be bigger, and to reflect the photos I had seen prior to visiting, it still filled me up nicely. But I absolutely have my eyes on trying that Reuben sandwich next time - and that's certainly the one to order, I reckon.

In fact, beyond the sandwich, this visit showed me that Albert’s Schloss is actually quite a nice place for lunch. It felt chilled, the staff were really friendly and efficient, and there is a variety of food on the menu besides sandwiches - there’s also things like schnitzels and currywurst to choose from too. And it was a lot less rowdy than I hazily remember on those Friday night visits.

Albert's Schloss is on 27 Peter Street, Manchester, M2 5QR.