Gravy Lovers Sandwich at KFC

Gravy Lovers Sandwich at KFC
Location
: 1610 The Queensway, Toronto
Website: https://www.kfc.ca/

KFC just came out with a sandwich called the Gravy Lovers Sandwich, and yes.  Of course.  Of course I’m going to try that sandwich.  I’m sold just based on the name alone.

The Gravy Lovers Sandwich, as per the KFC website: “features our delicious hand breaded chicken filet, 1 slice of Monterey Jack cheese, creamy mayo and 1 crunchy indented hashbrown with an individual gravy.”

Here’s the problem with ordering anything from a big fast food chain: it’s a crapshoot.  Sometimes you get food that’s nice and fresh, and sometimes you get food that’s… not.  I very much got the latter.

Gravy Lovers Sandwich at KFC

It’s a decent enough sandwich in theory, I’ll give it that.  How could it not be?  Fried chicken + gravy is always going to be a good thing.

It comes with a surprisingly large container of gravy (which is standard KFC gravy — thick and generically salty, but tasty enough), and you’re supposed to take off the top bun and pour it onto the sandwich.  I poured out about a quarter of it, and used the rest as a dip between bites.

Gravy Lovers Sandwich at KFC

The biggest problem here (aside from the fact that they forgot about the slice of cheese, and I guess decided to give me lettuce instead) is that both the chicken and the hashbrown had clearly been sitting in one of those warming trays for hours.  Days?  Weeks??  The meat had a texture that I will charitably describe as leathery, and the hashbrown (which you expect to be crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside) was crunchy and dry throughout.

The copious serving of gravy actually helped quite a bit in this regard, because the sandwich otherwise would have been inedibly dry.  I finished it, and I don’t think that would have been the case if not for the added moisture from the gravy.

Also: the sandwich (on its own — no combo!) costs $11.50 before tax.  Maybe I just don’t eat enough fast food these days, but I’ll admit that this gave me sticker shock.  For around the same price, you can go to a local joint like Chica’s or PG Clucks and get a sandwich that’s roughly a trillion times better.

A Great Chicken Sandwich at Black Camel

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

Black Camel is mostly known for their meaty sandwiches (though their roasted veggie sandwich is no slouch); the brisket and the pulled pork are the specialties, and both are great.  I went with the roasted pulled chicken on this visit, and hey, what do you know — it’s great.

Black Camel

One of the distinctive things about this shop is that there aren’t really any pre-set sandwiches; you customize your meat, your sauce, and toppings (which cost 95 cents a pop).  I went with the suggestion of the woman behind the counter, which was the basil pesto mayo and roasted red peppers.

Black Camel

It’s a top notch sandwich.  The chicken is nice and tender and has a satisfying roasty flavour, the silky roasted peppers add some nice pops of sweetness, and the rich mayo holds it all together.  That’s not to mention the bun, which is soft and fresh and holds up nicely to the meaty filling.

I think the chicken is either mostly or entirely white meat, which is a shame; a bit more moisture and flavour from some dark meat would have been nice.  And the basil pesto mayo mostly just tasted like plain mayonnaise, and could have used a bit more zip.  But mostly, it’s a great sandwich from a consistently great restaurant.

Quick Bites: Happy Sundae, Allwyn’s Bakery, Tom’s Dairy Freeze

Banana cream pie sundae at Happy Sundae
Banana cream pie sundae from Happy Sundae

So, hmm…  I’m trying to balance my newfound desire to keep this blog negativity-free with my need to warn you that this place isn’t very good.  Because it’s not very good.  The biggest issue here is the “ice cream” itself, and I’m putting ice cream in quotes because they say right on their menu that the soft serve is dairy-free.  Here’s the thing, though: Honey’s has illustrated fairly conclusively that it’s possible to create dairy-free ice cream that’s just as creamy and delicious as the real deal.  The stuff here, on the other hand, is exactly what you fear non-dairy ice cream is going to taste like.  But in the interest of not dwelling on the negative, I’ll just say that the banana slices were quite tasty (a lot of dessert places make the mistake of using underripe bananas, and that wasn’t an issue here) and leave it at that.

Jerk chicken meal from Allwyn's Bakery
Jerk chicken meal from Allwyn’s Bakery

On the plus side, the small jerk chicken meal from Allwyn’s is a pretty great deal.  Ignore the word “small” — for eleven bucks, you get a hearty portion of rice, two pieces of jerk chicken, and a side of coleslaw.  I wish it tasted better, however.  I couldn’t taste any of the spices and complexity that you’ll find in the better versions of this dish; it was just one-note salty in a way that got really monotonous to eat.  It’s a deal, though!

Pineapple sundae from Tom's Dairy Freeze
Pineapple sundae from Tom’s Dairy Freeze

Okay, let’s end things on a more positive note.  I know I’ve written about Tom’s Dairy Freeze about a billion times on this blog, and guess what?  It’s still great!  I got the pineapple sundae this time; the sauce has a decent proportion of small pineapple chunks and sweet syrup, but it’s the ice cream itself that’s the real draw.  This is still — hands down — the best soft serve in the city.  It’s rich, creamy, and delicious.

Decent Shawarma at Oaza Shawarma Plus

Oaza Shawarma Plus
Location
: 2645 Liruma Road, Mississauga
Website: https://www.facebook.com/oazashawarmaplus/

Oaza Shawarma Plus is one of those local joints that doesn’t stand out in any particular way, but that’s still satisfying for what it is.

Oaza Shawarma Plus

I got the chicken shawarma wrap, and it was pretty good.  The chicken was entirely lacking in the crispy bits you’re hoping for from great shawarma, but aside from that it was juicy and plentiful.  The sauces (hot sauce, garlic sauce, and tahini) were all tasty, and the proportion of sauce, chicken, and fresh veggies was just right.

Oaza Shawarma Plus

Bonus: the wrap was nicely toasted in a sandwich press.  I feel like unless you’re starting with some seriously fresh, delicious bread (and the pita here was of the bagged, store-bought variety), toasting will automatically enhance a shawarma wrap.

Do you need to get in your car and drive here immediately?  No, absolutely not.  But if you’re in the area, it’s a tasty enough wrap.

Quick Bites: Sarpa Restaurant, Burger Drops, El Pocho Antojitos Bar

Sarpa Restaurant
Franco Fries at Sarpa Restaurant

This place probably deserves more than a quick bite review, but it’s one of the many restaurants I visited while this blog was on hiatus, and this seems like it’s better than nothing.  I tried a few things here, and everything was quite good, but the highlight was clearly the Franco Fries: “hand cut fries, parmesan cheese, truffle-honey essence.”  This seems like an odd thing to order at an upscale Italian restaurant, but trust me — you need these fries in your life.  The fries themselves are perfectly cooked, with a crispy exterior and creamy interior, but it’s that truffle-honey essence that really makes these things sing.  I’m normally not crazy about anything with truffle oil (most truffle oils have never seen an actual truffle in their life), but this didn’t have that flavour at all; it was garlicky, a little bit sweet, and thoroughly addictive.

Burger Drops
Burger and a chicken sandwich from Burger Drops

I tried a couple of things at Burger Drops.  The first was the original burger, which features “griddled sweet onion, American cheese, house pickles, Drop sauce, toasted potato roll.”  It’s a solid burger — the patty has a nice crust, a decent beefy flavour, and the toppings suit it well.  It’s a bit on the dry side and nothing about it really jumped out at me, but it’s a tasty burger.  If I had been reviewing it for my burger blog, I’d give it a solid three out of four.  The other thing I tried was the chicken sandwich, which is odd, but tasty.  The odd thing about it: it’s not a traditional fried chicken sandwich.  Instead, it’s basically a gourmet McChicken, right down to the reconstituted chicken patty.  It’s a fun novelty and a big step above its fast food inspiration, but I’m not sure that I’d ever elect to eat this over a standard fried chicken sandwich.

El Pocho Antojitos Bar
Chilaquiles at El Pocho Antojitos Bar

Chilaquiles is one of those dishes that really deserves to be a bigger deal.  It’s such a simple dish: it’s just tortilla chips tossed in a zingy sauce.  At El Pocho Antojitos Bar, it’s also topped with crema (I think?  It’s been a while), cheese, and a fried egg.  The sauce thoroughly coats the chips, softening them a bit, though they do still retain a bit of their crunch.  It’s a thoroughly satisfying dish.