Disappointment at General Assembly Pizza

General Assembly PizzaLocation: 331 Adelaide Street West, Toronto
Website: https://www.gapizza.com/

The last time I checked out General Assembly Pizza, I noted that the crust didn’t quite have the level of chew that you’re looking for; sadly, that issue has not gotten any better.  If anything, it’s worse.

Their current special is a TIFF-inspired pizza called the Pink Panther: “rose sauce, shrimp, lemon, red jalapeno, garlic, scallion, mozzarella.”

General Assembly Pizza

It’s not bad.  The flavours all work together relatively well, and the shrimp is perfectly cooked.  But it’s an off-kilter pizza, and unlike the off-kilter pies at a place like Descendant, I kinda wished I was eating something a bit more traditional.  Nothing about it particularly pops.

Still, it’s tasty enough — aside from the crust.  As you can see from the photo, it’s perfectly cooked, with a delightful amount of char from the hot oven.  But it lacks substance, and it’s kinda bland.  It almost dissolves in your mouth; you barely even have to chew it.

General Assembly Pizza

I also tried the General Bread from the Snacks portion of the menu, which is described as “aged mozzarella, grana, garlic, aleppo pepper, wild oregano.”  It had the same issues with the dough, but it’s loaded with enough cheese and garlic (not to mention the tomato dipping sauce) to overcome the crust’s deficiencies.  It’s quite good.

An Amazing Vegetarian Sandwich at Black Camel

Black CamelLocation: 4 Crescent Road, Toronto
Website: https://www.blackcamel.ca/

If it weren’t for Toronto Life’s list of the best sandwiches in the city, never in a million years would it have occurred to me to try the roasted veggie sandwich at Black Camel.  I suppose I’m indebted to the list, because the sandwich was quite delicious.

Black Camel is a little take-out sandwich shop that specializes in tender, slow-roasted beef brisket and pork sandwiches (they also have chicken, steak, and a BLT).

I had assumed that the roasted veggie sandwich was more of a perfunctory, vegetarian-appeasing menu-filler than something anyone would actually want to order.

Black Camel

I was super duper wrong.  The veggie sandwich was just as good as their other offerings.  Maybe better.

The sandwich consists of roasted roma tomatoes, red pepper, and eggplant, with some peppery arugula for good measure.  It’s served on a soft, fresh bun.

Black Camel

You can choose from a variety of sauces; Toronto Life recommended the Charamoula sauce, which the menu describes as a “Moroccan-inspired mayonnaise [that] blends the flavours of garlic, cilantro, lemon juice, and smoked paprika into a one-of-a-kind topping.”  The list also recommended adding Fontina cheese, and who am I to argue with the list?

It’s a fantastic sandwich.  The veggies are all tender but not mushy, with a nice herby flavour.  They’re sweet, savoury, and absolutely crammed with flavour.

Black Camel

But it’s the Charamoula mayo that’s clearly the star of the show.  It’s zesty, spicy, and incredibly assertive without being overwhelming.  It’s one of those sauces that would make practically anything taste good; the fact that the veggies themselves are quite tasty is just a bonus.

The mild Fontina cheese adds a nice creaminess that only ups the richness from the silky mayo.  It’s a shockingly delicious sandwich.

Great Tex-Mex Tacos at Hotmess Tex Mex

Hotmess Tex MexLocation: 615 College Street, Toronto
Website: https://www.hotmesstexmex.com/

Hotmess was selling tacos at the recent Taste of Little Italy festival; having heard nothing but good things about their Tex-Mex grub, tying it out was a no-brainer.

They were doing beef, chicken, and corn tacos; I went with beef.  It was quite good.

It’s very simple: spiced beef, diced tomato, shredded lettuce, and cheddar cheese served in a hard shell tortilla.

Hotmess Tex Mex

It’s basically Taco Bell if Taco Bell were really, really good.

The beef was nicely spiced, and unlike Taco Bell, it actually has the taste and texture of beef.  How about that!  The lettuce and tomato are fresh and crunchy, and the cheese adds a nice salty bite.

The shell is probably the highlight, oddly enough.  It’s obviously freshly fried, and it’s glorious — the level of crunch is profound.  It’s ridiculously satisfying.

Beyond Sausage Egg and Cheese from Tim Hortons

Beyond Sausage Egg and Cheese from Tim HortonsLocation: 2960 South Sheridan Way, Oakville
Website: https://www.timhortons.com/ca/en/index.php

The fake meat gold rush continues; I think it’s safe to say that, before long, all of the fast food chains will have imitation meats from places like Beyond Meat or Impossible Foods on their menus.

Tim Hortons is the latest, with three new breakfast sandwiches featuring sausage that looks and tastes like sausage — but isn’t.

I tried the Beyond Meat burger from A&W last summer, and I thought it vaguely approximated real meat, but wasn’t going to fool anyone.

The Beyond Sausage at Tim Hortons is much more convincing.

I got the Egg and Cheese, which features a Beyond Sausage patty, an omelette patty, and processed cheese on an English muffin.

Beyond Sausage Egg and Cheese from Tim Hortons

The sausage certainly isn’t great, but it convincingly tastes like an actual sausage — a mediocre sausage, mind you, but if I hadn’t known it was fake meat, I wouldn’t have guessed.  That’s impressive.

(Of course, emulating a lousy, ultra-processed sausage is much, much easier than emulating one that actually tastes good, but one step at a time, I guess?)

There was something about the spicing that I found vaguely unappealing, and the flavour was particularly aggressive, presumably to cover up the lack of a meaty flavour.  But for the most part, it’s decent enough.

The texture is dead-on.  Unlike the Beyond Meat burger I had at A&W, it’s not mushy at all.  It’s a bit dry, and no one’s going to confuse it for a decent quality sausage, but the texture is basically identical to the type of mediocre sausage you’ll find at a place like Tim Hortons.  I was surprised at how close it got.

Otherwise, the sandwich was typical Tim Hortons, which is to say it was pretty lousy — the cheese was barely melted, the omelette was rubbery, and the English muffin was dense and dry.

A Delicious Veggie Sandwich at Forno Cultura

Forno CulturaLocation: 609 King Street West, Toronto
Website: https://fornocultura.com/

I recently had a seriously tasty meal thanks to Toronto Life’s list of the 25 best sandwiches in the city.  So it seemed like a safe enough bet to try another entry from that list: the melanzana from Forno Cultura, a great Italian bakery on King Street West.

It’s a roasted eggplant and zucchini sandwich with fior di latte (AKA mozzarella), Emmental cheese, and arugula.

Forno Cultura

I was tempted by the very tasty looking meatball sandwich, but I stuck with the list, and I’m very glad that I did.  The list is on a roll.  It’s an amazing sandwich.

Forno Cultura

The eggplant and the zucchini are both super tasty — they’re meaty and tender, with a very herby, garlicky flavour.  The two cheeses balance quite well, with a nice soft creaminess from the fresh mozzarella, and a sharper cheesy flavour from the Emmental.  Add in the peppery bite from the arugula, and you’ve got a tasty sandwich.

Though as good as the various fillings are, it’s the sesame-studded focaccia that’s the real star of the show.  It’s crispy, fluffy, and amazing.

Forno Cultura

The sandwich is also exceptionally oily — basically as soon as you pick it up, your hands become slick with grease.  Normally this might be a bit much, but I think that oil was also a vehicle for the aforementioned herby, garlicky flavour, because the whole sandwich was tasty and amazing.  It never feels overly oily.

I should have left it at that, but I made the mistake of getting the cornetto cioccolato for dessert.  It looked so good!

Forno Cultura

It tastes absolutely nothing like it looks.  It was barely sweet at all, and the texture was oddly crunchy and dry.  It was, weirdly enough, very similar to a pretzel.  Not a warm, fresh pretzel; the dry kind from a bag.  I don’t know if that was intentional, but I’m guessing it wasn’t because it was blatantly unappealing.  It was quite saltine-esque.

Still; it’s hard to stay mad a place that serves a sandwich that delicious.