It’s soup and sammie time at The Depanneur! I hadn’t been back to the cafe since Christmas and I really missed their soup and sandwiches so I made a return trip last month and had myself a warm and yummy comfort meal. Not only do I enjoy noshing on the good eats here, but I also love just being amidst the hustle and bustle in the commercial kitchen. On any given day, you would find either Lisa (@afoodgypsy) cooking up one of her fabulous soups, Sara of Nice Buns kneading and baking fresh fougasse, sourdough, and buns for her bakery and the farmers’ markets (and brushing olive oil and herbs onto the mouthwatering finished products!), and local musician Laura Repo making her homemade family recipe granola. It’s so much fun being a part of the cooking atmosphere and watching homemade food from scratch come together right before your eyes.
Soups and sandwiches are The Depanneur’s forte and while it’s one of the simplest meals in the book, the crew keeps things interesting and delicious by using simple ingredients and just combining them in different and delicious ways. At The Depanneur, you get to see food in all its various complexities. They break out the big guns for the supper clubs with unique interpretations of North American classics (a vegan tv dinner supper club that encourages you to think about the historical and social construction of food? Oh, hell yes) and plenty of ethic flavour, and they keep their daily cafe menu simple yet insanely scrumptious. Eggs, bread, potatoes, green vegetables, smoky meats, and a lot of love!
My breakfast sandwich was a soft, warm, heavenly green pea, red pepper, and potato egg frittata sandwich on St. John’s sourdough with miso aioli. I think I loved this one even more than the first sandwich I had here. It was so good. My favourite parts of the sandwich were the peas, the chunks of potato, and the miso aioli. The peas and potatoes gave the soft eggs, and the sandwich as a whole, a delicious “meaty” starchiness to it that was totally kicked up a notch by the miso aioli spread. It was so creamy and savoury and it complemented the bread and the potato chunks so well. Imagine dipping starchy, potatoey fries or soft-on-the-inside, crunchy on the outside wedges of bread into a creamy garlic mayo. It’s that, only better because every bite and mouthful is a party of egg, potato, veggies, bread, and creaminess! I really loved this and I only wish I could have a foot-long baguette sandwich of this.
The Depanneur takes pride in using as many local ingredients as possible from the city and province and the sandwiches are a prime example of that. Bread will normally come from St John’s Bakery and Nice Buns, organic eggs from H.O.P.E. Eco Farms (and according to Len, specifically from brown hens kept on grass), and some vegetables from Fiesta Farms here in Toronto.
The wonderful thing about The Depanneur is how resourceful they are with their food. They always think big and they always consider, “how can we make the most of the ingredients we have and how many different dishes can we create using these items?” The vegetables they use for their breakfast sandwiches might make their way into a soup, into that night’s drop-in dinner, or into a weekend cooking workshop or supper club. It’s exactly how their sweet potato, kale, and bacon soup was created and as soon as I saw it on their menu board, I knew it would be the perfect savoury soup partner for my sandwich and that it would be just as delicious as it sounded!
It’s a combination that I had never encountered before and I was immensly intrigued to try it out. With onions and red peppers to round out the bowl of soup, it was a bowl full of hearty, feel-good goodness. The sweetness of the sweet potato balanced out the smoky savouriness of the bacon pieces (yes, that’s right, PIECES) and the kale was very mild in flavour which was perfect because it didn’t interfere with the other two flavours. Instead, the kale gave the soup most of its body and an aspect of leafy lightness, lifting the soup a little so that the heartiness of the sweet potato and bacon wasn’t overwhelming. One of the best things about it? It didn’t need anything. You know how some soups are too bland and others are too spicy and others are too salty? Nothing of the sort with this one. I love cracked black pepper and I always sprinkle some onto my soup (and food, when appropriate), but I found that I didn’t need it or even want it. The flavours of the soup were bold and spoke for themselves.
The whole meal was the embodiment of warm comfort food with hearty starches (potatoes and sweet potatoes), smoky flavour from the bacon, and full body from the leafy kale. There is so much great food to look forward to at The Depanneur and given how the menu is always evolving, this is just the delicious beginning.
The Depannuer is located at 1033 College Street between Dovercourt Rd. and Dufferin Street. They are open from Tuesday to Sunday (closed on Mondays) with a number of cooking classes, food workshops, drop-in dinners, and supper clubs throughout the month, which you can keep up with on the Food Calendar or on their Twitter @TheDepanneur. You can view The Depannuer’s Facebook page here.