Location: 827 Landsdowne Avenue, Toronto
Yep, another sandwich from Toronto Life’s top 25. Another damn good one, too, so clearly this list is not to be trifled with. These sandwiches aren’t kidding around.
Donna’s serves a roast beef sandwich that’s topped with parsnip, horseradish sauce, crispy fried onions (or shallots?), and watercress. As per Toronto Life, the meat is marinated in beef fat and honey. It’s superb.
The sandwich is awash with flavour, but everything works so well together — it never feels too assertive or busy. First and foremost is the very healthy pile of thinly-sliced roast beef. It’s beefy, tender, and just a little bit sweet from the honey. It’s great.
The horseradish sauce is creamy and zingy, with a nice even burn that makes its presence known, but doesn’t overwhelm. The parsnip is kind of ingenious. It’s thinly sliced, and on first glance it looks like cheese. But it’s soft and creamy, and adds a bit of a starchy heft.
It’s all on a soft, fresh, slightly chewy roll that compliments it perfectly. Toronto Life calls it the fifth best sandwich in the city; that sounds about right to me. It’s really, really good.
Location: 3797 Lake Shore Boulevard West, Etobicoke
You can’t go wrong with a really good sandwich. And the folks at Woodfire Sandwich Co. certainly seem to know their stuff.
In particular, the First Date — a roast beef sandwich with crispy onions, arugula, gorgonzola, sauteed mushrooms, and mayo — was something special.
The sandwich is crammed with an absolutely absurd amount of rare roast beef; this would be overwhelming with lesser quality beef, but here it’s amazing. The meat is perfectly tender, with a really satisfying beefy flavour that’s only amplified by the fact that they serve it cold.
Beef and mushrooms are best friends, so I don’t need to tell you that this combination was great. The cheese and the mayo add a nice amount of creaminess, and the peppery arugula does a great job of keeping the sandwich’s richer flavours in check.
It’s served in a sesame seed roll that perfectly straddles the line between lightness and heft; it makes its presence known and holds up well to the onslaught of beef and mushrooms, but it never overwhelms. It’s a great roll for a great sandwich.
I also tried the fried chicken sandwich, which was less great (or more accurately: not great at all). It was fine, but nothing about it stands out. The exterior didn’t really have the crisp factor that you’re looking for in a great fried chicken sandwich, and the seasoning was ho-hum. Plus, the chicken itself (white meat, sadly) was slightly overcooked and a bit dry. It was a perfectly acceptable sandwich, but nothing about it stood out like the amazing roast beef.