Location: 3401 Dufferin Street, North York (inside Yorkdale Mall)
Since I’ve already established that the restaurant at the Restoration Hardware in Yorkdale is better than it has any right to be (I was shocked at how decent the burger was), it shouldn’t be a surprise that the grilled cheese is quite tasty.
It’s a classic, no-frills grilled cheese. This is a dish that a lot of places feel the need to gussy up, with toppings and condiments aplenty. But grilled cheese is perfect on its own; all you need is good quality bread, cheese, and a whole bunch of butter. No ornamentation is necessary.
And that’s exactly what the RH Courtyard Cafe gives you: the cheddar cheese is sharp and gooey, and the bread has the perfect amount of substance, with a crispy exterior and a soft interior.
It’s also ridiculously buttery, as it should be; if you can hold a grilled cheese sandwich without your hands instantly becoming slippery with grease, then you need to throw it right in the garbage. It’s worthless.
But then there’s the price. It’s 19 bucks. As good as it is (and it’s quite good), it’s still just a grilled cheese sandwich, which might be the easiest (and cheapest) thing in the world to make. So it’s hard to justify spending that much on it.
Location: 5980 McLaughlin Road, Mississauga
This is going to be a short one. Because I just had the quarter chicken with fries from Swiss Chalet, and come on. Do you really need me to describe this for you? I’m pretty sure that you can legally lose your Canadian citizenship if you’ve never tried Swiss Chalet’s chicken.
I know there are some people who think that Swiss Chalet has gone downhill and that it’s just not very good, and I think those people are nuts. I can’t speak to anything beyond the chicken and the fries — it’s all I ever order — but those two items are still quite tasty.
And at eleven bucks for the chicken, a heaping portion of delicious fries, and a roll, it’s a pretty great deal. Yes, white meat is a couple of bucks extra, but lets face it: dark meat is superior in every regard. That’s not even an opinion. That’s fact. It’s just science. It’s tastier and more moist. I have a theory that people who prefer white meat don’t actually like chicken very much, because white meat is just a dryer, blander version of dark.
Location: 197 North Queen Street, Etobicoke
I continue to be baffled by the success of Panera Bread. It’s really expensive, consistently mediocre, and always busy. I don’t get it.
The bread’s not bad, I’ll give it that. I’ve had a few sandwiches here, and the bread is always the highlight.
I got the “Pick 2,” which means you can pick two smaller things and pay a lot for it. I got a small sandwich and a little bowl of chili, and it came up to a bit over 14 bucks, and just get the hell out of here with that. This should cost about half of that for the quality of food they’re serving.
Specifically, I got the Fontiga Chicken Panini, and the Turkey Chili.
They were both fine. The sandwich had a mild smoky flavour — I guess either the cheese or the chicken was smoked — but was otherwise the sandwich equivalent of white noise. It’s neither good nor bad; it’s just kind of there.
The chili was fine, but it was about on the level as a can of soup from the supermarket. A nicer can — maybe one that costs a buck fifty instead of a buck — but a can nonetheless.
And of course, as usual, the place was packed. Why? I guess it’s better than the literal garbage that they call sandwiches at Tim Hortons, but still: why is this place so popular?