Location: 181 Baldwin Street, Toronto
I recently mentioned that the sandwich at Egg Bae was fine, but that it was a bit one-note; the flavours and textures were all monotonous, and it was kinda boring to eat.
The Conchinita torta from San Cosme is the exact opposite of that. It’s an almost absurdly well-balanced sandwich.
It was my first time back there since it opened; it was very good then, and it’s even better now. The torta I just had was dangerously close to sandwich perfection.
The sandwich comes with pulled pork, refried beans, habanero onions, and fried plantains.
It’s ridiculously good. All the elements work together in such perfect harmony. There’s the tangy pork (which is super tender, but still has some texture) and the creamy beans, which balance perfectly with the mild sweetness of the plantain. The pickled onions add crunch, and their vinegary bite helps to cut the richness from the pork and beans.
Then there’s the crispiness from the fried plantains, not to mention the amazing bread, which is lightly crispy on its exterior and delightfully fluffy inside.
It’s kind of absurd how good the sandwich is. The contrasting flavours and textures are like a perfectly orchestrated symphony.
And it’s made even better with the house-made pickled jalapenos they have on the counter. These things are so good, with an assertive crunch, a vinegary bite, and a mild spiciness. You assume the sandwich can’t get better than it already is, then you add a few of those, and yeah — somehow it gets even more delicious.
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.