The roast beef au jus sandwich from Roll Call in Portland. Photo by Aimsel Ponti

There are roast beef sandwiches and then there are ROAST BEEF SANDWICHES, and let me tell you, I sure as heck fire had the latter during a recent lunch run to Roll Call in Portland’s West End.

On one of the last days before I put my scooter to bed for the winter, I pulled up in front of Roll Call hungry and ready to give it a whirl.

There were a few folks sitting outside in the makeshift patio area on the day I visited, and it was an entirely pleasant scene as I chatted amicably with the staffers, one of whom won me over immediately by complimenting my scooter and overall “style.”

The menu board at Roll Call. Photo by Aimsel Ponti

I am glad I took a photo of the menu board because, honestly, I don’t remember a single thing that was on it other than the first item: the 8-hour roast beef sandwich with horseradish, mustard and au jus served on an onion roll for $12. No matter what else was on that menu, my decision had already been made.

Looking at that menu now, I’m pleased to see things like a fancy grilled cheese sandwich (fontana, taleggio and chives on sourdough, $11), braised greens (spigarello, house-made sausage and garlic bread crumbs, $7) and buttermilk panna cotta (made with blueberries, milk and crumbles, $6). Roll Call also has pork and beef meatballs and a kale and kohlrabi salad, both for $7.

Now let me tell you about that roast beef sandwich. I made it home on my scooter in record (but legal) time and repaired to my back yard to take advantage of the warm-ish temperature.


I paired the sandwich with an entirely unnecessary bag of North Fork chips ($2), because if I was going to eat without health concerns, I was gonna really go for it.

I don’t remember the last time I had had a roast beef sandwich, which means it’s been years, if not decades. They’ve never been one of my go-to sandwiches, but after the one I had at Roll Call, that’s likely going to change.

Upon sinking my teeth into the first bite, I was almost overwhelmed by how succulent and flavorful it was. This wasn’t just a sandwich, it was an unprecedented culinary experience. I dipped each bite into the container of au jus with slow intention, not wanting to rush through the meal.

The meat must practically fall off the bone on its own when it comes out of the oven after its eight-hour roasting session. And though the $12 price tag might seem a little steep, I think once you’ve tasted it, you’ll figure out a way to work it into your budget. It’s really that good.

Roll Call opened on Oct. 23 and, prior to that, was doing mobile pop-ups. A food cart version of the restaurant is coming soon, so keep an eye on @rollcallmaine on Instagram and its website for details. The outdoor seating area, complete with heaters, will be open as long as possible.

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