Four Sandwiches and a Jamaican Patty

When I wake up in the mornings on the weekend I am faced with a decision that probably expends a lot more brain power than it should, “where am I going to eat today?”  Should it be something greasy or healthy?  Should I try some place new or one of my go-to places?  Quantity or quality?  Cheap dive place or someplace nicer?  How far am I willing to walk?  Many of these mornings I think of sandwiches since it usually satisfying on all fronts: a nice mix of ingredients, reasonable price point, reasonable quantity and a wide variety of choices.  The first sandwich shop I’m going to write about today is a place in Kensington market, The Grilled Cheese.

This shack of a restaurant is actually a lot nicer than the picture will have you believe  The interior has a nice rustic feel with jars of preserved food surrounding the dining room.  You walk up to the counter and view the numerous varieties of grilled cheese sandwiches you can try.  Many of the concoctions sound delicious (with tons of fancy cheeses I haven’t even heard of ) but we decided to simply try the traditional grilled cheese sandwich with tomatoes and bacon….mmmmm….bacon.

The cheese in this uber grilled cheese sandwich was a generous three cheese blend of aged cheddar, Monterey Jack and some other soft white cheese that I can’t remember (I want to say provolone but it wasn’t that strong).  The cheese was perfectly melted between the two large slices of panini pressed bread.  The gooey-ness was as awesome as it looks.  The bread itself is also pretty good.  Crisped to perfection but it didn’t have any sort of outstanding flavor.  The tomatoes were a little tart but juicy and flavorful.  The bacon was fatty and delicious.  You can never really go wrong with bacon.  This is really any hung-over college student’s dream… well slightly wealthier college student since the price fits the price of the fancy cheeses (still under $10 but it is still a grilled cheese sandwich after all).

After splitting a grilled cheese sandwich, my friend and I walked over to Patty King for a Jamaican Patty.  I’ve never had a Jamaican patty before coming to Toronto and have to say, I’ve really been missing out my whole life.

These lovely pockets of meat, spices and grease are simply delicious.  Greasy and probably unhealthy as hell but they are sooo good.  The level of heat is perfect and the meatiness is very satisfying.  My only reservations is that they print the nutritional information on the bag they serve it in…HOLY COW!  Apparently that’s most of daily intake of fat…. but it was worth it.  This was simply my introduction to Jamaican patties so I’m looking forward to trying what others term as “the best” Jamaican patty in the city.

On another morning, I opted for something healthy so I made my way over to Sadie’s Diner.  This is one of those places tucked away on a side street between Queen and King on the west side (between Spadina and Bathurst).

The staff was very friendly and the staff working the open kitchen appeared to be enjoying themselves.  The clientele all appear to be regulars as several tables greeted each other upon entry and exit.  I started with a mango and banana milkshake.

I don’t know why but they put banana in all of their milkshakes.  Given the choices, which there are quite a few, all seemed like they would mix well with bananas but I guess I just found it strange how banana appeared in all of them.  Maybe it was for texture and consistency.  The milkshake was nice and thick while not being so thick that it was a struggle to drink it through the straw.  The fruit in the milkshake was nice a sweet and the whole mixture was very refreshing and satisfying.  For my meal, I ordered the vegan club.

I think this may have been the first time I’ve ever ordered a vegan meal of any kind.  I was curious to see how the grilled tofu would taste in place of chicken and how the veggie bacon would taste in place of its pork counterpart.  All in all, it was pretty good.  The tofu was a little bland but considering it was tofu, it had much more flavor than I thought it would.  The veggie bacon was crisp with no hint of grease or fat… something that in my “I’m going to be healthy today” mindset was actually good.  The bacon still had a considerable salty flavor to it like any other bacon which mixed with the other fresh vegetables made the whole sandwich quite enjoyable.  The side salad had a nice light and fruity dressing.  Overall, the whole dish was really tasty.  Sweetness from the salad, saltiness from the bacon and the smooth wash down of the milkshake made this meal a home run for me.  For my first vegan meal, I had to say I was impressed… apparently a world without meat isn’t so bad after all.

On another bright morning I found myself near St. Lawrence market at Hank’s, a little cafe that used to be owned by Jamie Kennedy.

The first thing you notice upon entering is the awesome cork collection they have building on the side wall.  I was wondering if it was from the wine bar a few doors down (that also used to be owned by Jamie Kennedy).  This really puts my cork collection to shame.

I was a little disoriented upon entering since I couldn’t see the menu.  They had specials up on the chalk board behind the counter but the selection seemed very minimal.  The staff then noticed my lost look and mentioned that the menu was on the back wall…Ahhh…It’s one of THOSE mornings.  I decided to simply go with the turkey sandwich although I promised myself I would go back for the chili, soups and the pulled pork which other patrons had ordered.  The soups and pulled pork looked particularly appetizing.

Overall, the sandwich was okay.  I liked the taste of the peppers (although they were almost overpowering) and mix of fresh vegetables but everything on the whole was just okay.  I feel like I could make something like this at home so I wasn’t overly impressed.  I would still go back to try some of the other selections but given this mediocre experience, I’m not rushing out the door to try it again.

If you are looking for something really cheap on the go while passing through Chinatown, pick up a Bahn Mi, a Vietnamese sub.   I’ll admit, I’ve had better Vietnamese subs (there was this place in Calgary actually that served up a pretty mean Vietnamese sub) but for $1.75 can you really go wrong?

The bread is tough on the outside and doesn’t really have a nice fluffiness in the middle.  In fact, the whole thing kind of crumbles apart.  The fresh veggies on the inside however include things like onions and carrots with quite a strong taste of cilantro.  The meat is pretty good though.  Definitely not of the highest quality meat but the BBQ pork is still pretty tasty (the chicken looks a little sketchy but it’s not that bad, I still prefer the pork).  If it’s quality you want, this will miss the mark with most people, in fact I think most things in Chinatown may miss the mark if you’re looking for high quality.  I did take my parents and best friend from home however and both parties couldn’t believe how cheap it was for what you get.  As I was telling my friend as we began touring the city after picking up a couple of these, Toronto is a pretty cool place eat.  You can go out and have a $200 steak or pick up a filling sandwich for under $2.  You just have to know where to go and how much money you have in your wallet.

~ by jlowjlow on May 2, 2010.

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