Location: 209 Dovercourt Road, Toronto
I think the word “genius” is frequently misused. A lot of people given that label are probably very good at what they do, but not necessarily a genius.
That being said, they’re serving a sandwich called “The Caesaroni” at Vilda’s, and whoever invented it is a genius. That’s just a fact.
The Casaroni, as per the menu: “Pepperoni pizza and caesar salad living in harmony inside a bun. Tomato Sauce, shredded mozzarella, pepperoni and romaine tossed in caesar dressing. Delicioso!”
It’s the type of thing that seems so obvious in retrospect. But would I have come up with it myself? Doubtful! Because I’m not a genius.
And it’s just as great as you’d hope, with an absolutely delightful combo of gooey cheese, flavourful sauce, meaty pepperoni, and zippy Caesar-dressed romaine. It’s like you’re eating a slice of pepperoni pizza and a Caesar salad at the same time. I could see a lesser version of this sandwich coming off as gimmicky, but this is legitimately delicious.
I also tried the latkes, which comes with an order of five brick-like latke rectangles. It’s far from traditional, but it features an outstandingly crispy exterior and a creamy interior; it’s great.
Location: 531 Yonge Street, Toronto
As you’d guess from the name, Egg Club is all about egg sandwiches; every sandwich here features a fluffy omelet with various toppings, served on sweet Japanese milk bread. It reminds me a lot of Egg Bae, but I think I like this place better.
You can get sandwiches here with stuff like ham, bacon, or even lobster, but I went pretty simple with the eponymous Egg Club: “Balsamic Onion, Swiss Cheese, Creme Fraiche, Egg Club Sauce.”
Between the silky eggs, the cheese, the sweet brioche-style bread, and the creamy sauces, it’s a very rich sandwich. It’s a bit one-note (this was my biggest problem with Egg Bae as well), but the balsamic onion does a pretty solid job of bringing some sweet acidity that tones it down. It’s hard to tell from the pictures, but there’s a generous amount throughout the sandwich, and it’s fairly essential in keeping things balanced.
Location: 111 Richmond Street West, Toronto (inside the Assembly Chef’s Hall)
I recently found myself in the Assembly Chef’s Hall, and I figured I’d check out whichever vendor was the busiest. This was — by far — Charcoal Biryani, though that might be because they seemed to be a bit frazzled; it took about forty minutes (!!) between getting in line and getting my food, which seems to defeat the whole point of an ostensibly grab-and-go concept like this.
Still, it was pretty tasty. They serve biryani, along with a variety of kebabs that you can either get as a wrap or in a meal with rice. I was planning on getting the original kebab wrap, but this was sold out, so I went with the chicken tikka wrap instead.
I wish the chicken were dark meat instead of vaguely dry breast, but otherwise I quite enjoyed this. As the name of the restaurant implies, they cook the chicken over charcoal, which gives it a delightfully smoky flavour. Otherwise it’s pretty by-the-numbers, but that pronounced flavour from the grill really elevates it.
I also got an order of fries that I forgot to photograph, which the menu advertised as two dollars but which the apologetic woman behind the counter explained is actually six. Inflation, I guess?? Anyway, just picture McDonald’s fries (but worse) with a sprinkling of sumac on top. This would have been worth the advertised two dollars, but six might be a bit much.
Location: 385 The West Mall, Etobicoke
Old Mill Pastry & Deli is an unassuming little place that sells a bunch of European groceries, along with pastries like burek and the thing I tried, a delightful Turkish dessert called tulumba.
I wasn’t familiar with this particular dessert until I tried it here, and clearly I’ve been missing out because it’s delicious.
The closest thing I can compare it to is a churro; they’re both fried tube-like pastries with ridges along the outside.
But the tulumba is thicker and soaked in syrup — I guess it’s kind of like if a churro and a Greek doughnut (a.k.a. loukoumades) had a baby. It’s syrupy but not overly sweet, with an interior that’s heartier than a traditional doughnut with an almost custardy flavour, and an exterior that has a satisfying crunch that’s amped up by those ridges. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I really enjoyed this.
Location: 4 Crescent Road, Toronto
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.
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.
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.