Location: 92 Ossington Avenue, Toronto
I love the cubano sandwich at La Cubana. Or at least, I usually do.
I was going to order something else, but then I realized that I’ve never actually written about the cubano here, and I really don’t need much more of an excuse than that.
And here’s the thing: it was good. It certainly wasn’t bad, per se. That’s the problem with serving truly great food; there’s nowhere to go but down, and even something that’s quite good is going to seem like a letdown in comparison.
The cubano here is normally the perfect amalgam of gooey cheese, savoury meats, and zingy pickles. It’s astonishingly good. Usually.
This time? It was off. Though the cheese was nice and gooey, the pork had a mildly gamy, leftovery flavour, there were almost no pickles to cut the richness of the cheese and the meat, and the bread was dry and overly crunchy. I ate the sandwich as carefully as I could, and it still thoroughly mangled the roof of my mouth.
Has La Cubana gone downhill? Or was the kitchen just having a bad day? I’ll feel bad if it’s the latter — but they served me what they served me, so I don’t feel too bad about it.
If you were lucky enough to try Caplansky’s at its original digs in the Monarch Tavern, then you’ll know that it was truly something special. One of the things that made their smoked meat stand out was its intensely smoky flavour. This was greatly diminished once they moved to their permanent location and had to start making the meat in greater quantities (and of course, in a sad turn of events, Caplansky’s is now gone altogether).
Well, it looks like Torontonians craving that unique smokiness now have somewhere to go, because Rose and Sons was recently transformed into an old-school deli, and they’re serving up pastrami with a distinctively smoky flavour.
It’s actually quite good — I got the hot pastrami sandwich, and my only real complaint is that the meat should have been a bit fattier (they called it medium, but it was much closer to lean).
That’s an easy fix, though: I’ll ask for it fatty the next time I go, because there’s definitely going to be a next time. It’s a great sandwich, with perfectly thick slices of tender, smoky, nicely spiced pastrami.
I also tried the potato and onion knish, which didn’t fare quite as well. I think this might have been the second or third knish I’ve had in my entire life, so it’s possible that I’m just not a fan — but this was dry pastry encasing bland, crumbly potatoes with a slightly oniony flavour. It desperately needed a gravy or some kind of sauce, or really anything to give it just a little bit of moisture (not to mention flavour). I didn’t care for it.