Outstanding (if untraditional) Philly Cheesesteaks at Illstyl3 Sammies

Illstyl3 SammiesLocation: 300 Richmond Street West, Toronto
Websitehttps://www.facebook.com/Illstyl3-Sammies-227723081025310/

I’ve mentioned before that it’s surprisingly difficult to find a classic Philly cheesesteak in the city (i.e. just steak, onions, and Cheese Wiz or provolone on a roll).

But if every cheesesteak could be as delicious as what they’re serving at Illstyl3 Sammies, then classic shmassic.  Because it’s far from traditional, but exceptionally delicious.

Illstyl3 Sammies

And it’s classic enough.  The steak, the onions, and the gooey provolone are all perfect.  In particular, the steak is exactly as it should be — it’s super tender, and has enough of a beefy taste to assert itself even among the very assertive flavours of the sandwich.

Specifically, they liberally season the beef with some kind of spice blend (the fennel stands out the most, but there’s definitely a lot going on here), and they add in hot peppers along with the onions. They also top the sandwich with a zesty house-made hot sauce that adds a ton of flavour and a very mild spiciness.

Illstyl3 Sammies

The taste is very far from a classic cheesesteak, but it’s got the three things you’re hoping for: it’s beefy, cheesy, and delicious.

My only real complaint is that the roll was a bit on the dry side, but other than that this was a top-shelf sammich.

Fried Chicken Breakfast Sandwich at Porchetta & Co.

Porchetta and Co. - Exchange TowerLocation: 130 King Street West, Toronto
Websitehttp://porchettaco.com/

The Exchange Tower location of Porchetta & Co. is a bit different from the other ones — it opens early, and it has a breakfast menu.  This menu includes a buttermilk fried chicken sandwich.

Fried chicken in the morning?  Yes please.

Sadly, it’s not quite as great as you’d hope, but it’s fried chicken, an egg, and gooey cheese.  Of course it tastes good.  How could that combo not taste good?

Porchetta and Co. - Exchange Tower

Like all of the fried chicken at Porchetta & Co., the chicken here is perfectly cooked, with a satisfyingly crispy exterior.  It’s dipped in hot honey, with a very strong emphasis on the honey.  It’s sweet.  I wish there were a bit more spice, and maybe some vinegar to cut the sweetness, because it’s tasty, but it’s a bit cloying.

The egg was overcooked, with a chalky yolk — but other than that, the sandwich was solid.  The cheese was nice and melty, and the buttery toasted English muffin was the perfect vehicle for the chicken, egg, and cheese.

Decent Breakfast Sandwiches at Egg Bae

Egg BaeLocation: 189 Augusta Avenue, Toronto
Websitehttp://eggbae.ca/

I’ve been meaning to check out Egg Bae pretty much since it opened, though I’ll admit that the name kinda makes me cringe.  I can’t help but think about this moment from 30 Rock every time I see it.

But regardless of the name, I just can’t say no to a tasty breakfast sandwich.  Who can?

Egg Bae

The menu is admirably focused, with breakfast sandwiches, breakfast sandwiches, and more breakfast sandwiches (they also have hash browns if you want something on the side).  I went with the eponymous Egg Bae: “Soft Scrambled Eggs, Chives, Muenster Cheese, Slow Cooked Onions, Bae Sauce.”

It’s decent enough, but alas, it didn’t quite knock my socks off.

Egg Bae

All of the components are really good (in particular, the eggs themselves are perfect — they’re amazingly soft and creamy with zero sliminess), and the hearty bun does a great job of holding up to the very gooey sandwich.

But all of the flavours and textures are basically on the exact same wavelength; it’s one-note soft, salty, and rich, and as good as it is, it gets monotonous.  It really needed some texture to balance out how soft everything is, and something acidic to cut the richness.  It’s not a large sandwich, and I was still sick of eating it towards the end.

Egg Bae

Certainly, Gold Standard, which serves my current favourite breakfast sandwich in the city, remains the… well, gold standard of breakfast sandwiches.

This will probably flush my credibility down the toilet, but I think even a McMuffin is better (I’m partial to the Egg and Sausage).  Yes, the quality of the ingredients at Egg Bae are clearly superior and the eggs are better prepared, but the McMuffin is just more satisfying.  The toasted English muffin gives it some much-needed textural contrast, and the flavours are better balanced.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Tasty Slices at Superpoint

SuperpointLocation: 184 Ossington Avenue, Toronto
Websitehttps://www.superpoint.ca/

Getting a reheated slice from a pizza place can be a bit of a dicey proposition.  Reheat a slice for too long and it becomes overly stiff and crunchy; not enough, and the cheese’s goo-factor isn’t there.  Or worse: it’s clammy.

And if the pizza sits on the counter too long, it eventually passes a point of no return; it can only ever be a shadow of its former self.

The slice I just had at Superpoint avoids all of these pitfalls.  It was one of the best reheated slices of pizza I’ve had in ages.

Superpoint

I think it’s the ultra-thin crust; the guy didn’t put it in the oven for much more than 30 seconds, but thanks to how thin it was, that was more than enough to heat it through and re-gooify the cheese.

The crust was actually pretty great, with a pronounced crispiness on its exterior that never felt overly crunchy or crackery.  It still had a pliable chewiness that complimented the crispy exterior perfectly.

This particular slice was pretty simple, with just tomato sauce, cheese, spicy sopressata, and a light sprinkling of parmesan and dried herbs.

Superpoint

It was fantastic.  The salty sopressata contrasted very nicely with the simple, slightly sweet tomato sauce, and there was the perfect proportion of cheese and sauce.  It was one of the better slices I’ve had in quite a while.

Bonus: it only cost five bucks (and that includes tax) for a slice of pizza bigger than my head.

Double bonus: it’s a five minute walk from Bang Bang, which means that for less than ten bucks, you can have a delicious slice of pizza and a scoop of the best ice cream in the city.  That’s about as perfect of a lunch as I can imagine.

A Ridiculously Bad Philly Cheesesteak at Philthy Philly’s

Philthy Philly'sLocation: 960 Southdown Road, Mississauga
Websitehttp://www.philthyphillys.com/

If you’re looking for an authentic Philly cheesesteak in Toronto, I think you’re out of luck. There used to be an amazing place called I Went to Philly; their cheesesteak was dead on. Tragically, it went out of business, breaking cheesesteak-loving hearts across the GTA.

It’s not all that difficult to find a cheesesteak in the city, but it’s almost impossible to find an authentic one; most places clutter it up with extraneous toppings like peppers and mushrooms and other sauces.  A real-deal Philly cheesesteak should consist of only four things: a roll, steak, griddled onions, and Cheese Wiz (you can substitute provolone if you’re feeling fancy, but really, Wiz is where it’s at).

Philthy Philly's

So I was pretty excited to try Philthy Philly’s — they have a ton of stuff on their menu, including a whole bunch of optional toppings, but if you want it, you can get a cheesesteak the way it’s supposed to be.

Alas, the cheesesteak here somehow manages to get every single element wrong. It would be impressive if it weren’t so frustrating.

Philthy Philly's

The beef was the wrongest part of the whole maelstrom of wrongness.  The beef in a Philly cheesesteak should be thinly shaved slices of steak.  The meat here, on the other hand, consisted of little pebbly bits of beef that were either ground, or chopped so finely that it may as well have been ground.  It also had a chewy, rubbery texture and absolutely zero beefy flavour.  It was pretty bad.

The “Cheese Wiz” had the consistency of water and zero cheesy tang; the onions had been cooked to the point of being mush.

Philthy Philly's

The final insult was the bread; instead of a lightly crispy outside and a fluffy interior, it was just dense and chewy throughout, with zero exterior crispiness.

The sandwich was cheap, at least.  The smallest size costs just seven bucks, comes on a six inch roll, and is crammed with a generous amount of beef.  But I wish they’d charge a little bit more for a higher quality product; as it is, the sandwich is about on par with Subway, and I say that as someone who doesn’t like Subway at all.