The Fall Harvest Series – A Thanksgiving Sandwich! Fresh Turkey, Cranberry Compote, and Focaccia at Atelier Cafe

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Thanksgiving may have come and gone for us here in Canadaland, but that doesn’t mean I – or everyone else – should do away with the traditional Thanksgiving foods.  Things like the roast turkey, the stuffing, the cranberries, the pumpkin and apple desserts, and all the delicious vegetable dishes using potatoes, squashes, beans, and root vegetables.  It’s the fall season, I love the traditional Thanksgiving food with all the trimmings and really, I’m just getting started!  I think we can all enjoy those holiday favourites any time throughout the season and I love finding different interpretations of these classic meals and dishes whether they’re with meat or without, because I have seen some amazing vegetarian and vegan Thanksgiving spreads over the past week!  Regardless of the fact that Thanksgiving happened a week ago, I’m happy to indulge in all the goodness so long as it’s still available and the way I see it, my American friends won’t be celebrating their Thanksgiving for another month so I think it’s a perfect excuse to continue the holiday meal love. 

Enter the Thanksgiving sandwich.  You can think of it as Thanksgiving leftovers, or just Thanksgiving in a neat, delicious sandwich.  I love the sandwiches at Atelier Cafe, and after having my amazing smoked salmon, cream cheese, and guacamole sandwich on sundried tomato focaccia my first timethere, I wanted to eat my way through their menu. 

I noticed there were entree salads listed after the sandwich items on the menu and I smiled when I saw a Thanksgiving inspired one: turkey salad with cranberry compote, guacamole, grape tomatoes, cucumber, and salad greens.  How perfect is that for the Thanksgiving and harvest season?  Cranberries are in season and the turkey fits the bill quite nicely.  And the guacamole is just a delicious added bonus.  I hesitated when it sunk in that the menu item was a salad though.  I like salad, but I really wanted it as a sandwich.  Being the charmer that I am (or so I’d like to think), I sweetly asked if I could have the salad as a sandwich and the server was extremely nice and told me it wouldn’t be a problem at all.  Score!

Piled high on crunchy toasted focaccia bread was my Thanksgiving meal in a sandwich.  Thick wedges of roasted turkey, sweet and juicy cranberry compote, juicy grape tomatoes and cucumber sliced in half, and a leafy layer of spring mix greens.  This sandwich was fabulous.  Sandwich-loving Joey Tribbiani fabulous.  The cranberry compote was a wonderful complement with its sweetness and fruitiness.  Before I ever had compote, I had no idea what the difference was between that and jam.  I sighed in exasperation whenever I heard the term because I just thought the term was being used as a synonym for jam.  You know, a fancy French word that we unnecessarily use to take the place of the same thing in English so we can feel like we have air of sophistication.  To my relief, not so. 

Although compote is indeed a French word, compote is not jam.  Aside from having a little less sugar content than jam, compote, in this context, is made by boiling whole or chopped fruits in water and a little sugar.  The main difference is consistency.*  Compote can sometimes take the form of fruit and syrup, fruit puree, or even as a dessert or drink, whereas jam is much more gelled because of the pectin released from the fruits during the boiling and cooking process.  With the cranberry’s sweetness and tanginess, it added a great dimension of flavour that played off the turkey really well.

I’m a fan of Atelier’s focaccia and their roast turkey for this sandwich was amazing.  Although turkey is such a star and staple in Thanksgiving and other holiday meals, so many people complain about its dryness and compare the experience to how one would envision eating paper.  Lucky for me, I’ve had relatively good experiences eating turkey but I know others have either gotten stuck with the bone dry variety or the dripping, greasy parts that aren’t all that appetizing. 

Not this turkey.  It wasn’t greasy or “juicy” in a gross way, it wasn’t desert dry, and there was plenty of it in the sandwich to my delight.  It had the skin on, the turkey meat was moist and flavourful, and it was cut into nice thick wedge slices.  Turkey sandwiches are one of my favourite kinds of sandwiches and I’m so happy the staff at Atelier were nice enough to turn the salad menu item into a sandwich for me.  In a way, each bite was like a delicious mouthful of Thanksgiving holiday festiveness.  Just without the food coma at the end of the meal.

*****

Source*= Metro website

Atelier Cafe Lounge is located at 510 King St. West, west of Spadina Ave.  They serve both breakfast and lunch during the day and turn into a lounge and nightclub at night.

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Black-and-White Damask and a Melty, Crunchy Smoked Salmon, Guacamole Sandwich – Atelier Cafe, Part II

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Atelier Cafe, to me, is a fab place for a get-together with your girl friends.  Or just a group lunch in general.  The space is very open and it’s very conducive for small group gatherings.  The decor is beautiful with the black-and-white damask patterned walls, black plushy sofa seats, and floral patterned ottomans to sit on.  Very posh, very avant garde.  It’s the kind of place I envision when my girl friends and I say, “let’s do lunch” and want the feel of being fancy pants without actually being fancy pants.  Atelier serves both breakfast and lunch and their menu specialty lies with their sandwiches, as well as some salads.  I know Atelier is a cafe by day and a nightclub and lounge by night, but since I only plan on coming here for lunch and maybe trying a breakfast item or two, no goods on the nightclub scene here!

Looking at Atelier’s tomato focaccia sandwiches makes my mouth hang open.  The sandwiches are HUGE!  I refer to them as “brick” sandwiches because they honestly look as big as bricks!  I know I ordered a whole sandwich meal for myself but I have to tell you, it’s good enough to feed two people for lunch, especially considering you get a side salad along with it.  The tomato focaccia sandwich meals come in two “brick slabs”, which makes for easy sharing if you’re there with others.  If you’re on your own, I think it’s great for portion control.  Eat one sandwich “half” (which in my opinion functions as an entire sandwich) and take the other to-go.  Unless of course you’re a piggy like me and you attempt to eat the whole thing in one shot and then you moan and groan about how damn full you are afterward.  Whoops. 

Anyway!  The tomato focaccia bread that they use for a number of their sandwiches is fantastic.  They press and grill the sandwiches so that they come out beautifully crunchy and crispy and everything on the inside is melty and soft and gooey and YUMMY.  Oh!  And the side salad was delicious too.  Green spring mix salad topped with an amazing 7-grain salad mixed with a mustard vinaigrette.

You all know how much I love salmon, so I got myself the smoked salmon sandwich.  The sandwich didn’t come exactly as it stated on the menu, but quite frankly, I loved the way my sandwich came out and I’m glad it ended up the way that it did.  It was only a minor substitution and I loved it.  The salmon sandwich on the menu had cream cheese, guacamole, cucumber, alfalfa sprouts, and capers and what I actually got was all of the above minus the alfalfa and with baby spinach instead.  Oh man, HEAVEN.  The sandwich press made the cream cheese and guacamole all melty and it was SO GOOD.  The guacamole was oozing out of the sandwich and onto the sides – can you say party in my mouth??  It was everything I could have hoped for in a great sandwich – great texture and flavour from the bread and all the filling meshed together.  Even though my boyfriend didn’t enjoy his pulled pork one as much as he would’ve hoped, I thoroughly enjoyed my smoked salmon one and I would definitely go back to try some of their other sandwiches.

All of their sandwich meals come in under $10 with the more expensive ones priced at $8.95.  Like I said before though, they’re great for sharing because of their size, so feasibly, you could the split the meal with another person and have yourself a $4.50 lunch.  Along with tomato focaccia, they also serve some of their sandwiches on dark rye, sourdough, pain au lait rolls (crispy on the outside, soft and flaky on the inside), and even on a pretzel!  They also provide the option of making your sandwich on gluten-free bread for an additional charge of $1.  Do they have a vegetarian sandwich?  Indeed they do.  They have a grilled veggie sandwich served on their tomato focaccia with bell peppers, eggplant, zucchini, alfalfa, and goat cheese.  When I get around to trying this one, I will definitely add it to the Vegetarian Sandwich Series if it’s up to snuff.

They serve a number of meal-size salads including couscous, nicoise (tuna with potatoes, green beans, and hard boiled eggs and other vegetables), turkey (a Thanksgiving inspired type of salad with cranberry compote and vegetables), and a caprese salad with tomatoes and bocconcini cheese.  They also have plenty of drinks on their menu including coffee, espresso, lattes, and loose leaf brewed tea from Tealish, but if you’re not in the mood for any of that they have pitchers of ice water with cucumber by the cash that you can help yourself to. 

Annnd, they have cookie creamie sandwiches from Bunner’s Bake Shop here!  Squee!  If you’ll recall, back in April I made two very large blog posts about Bunner’s Bake Shop during Veggielicious and in a nutshell, Bunner’s Bake Shop is an amazing vegan, gluten-free bakery that also serves a number of nut-free and soy-free goodies at well.  So if you love Bunner’s and can’t always make the trek out west to The Junction or if you’ve never tried any of Bunner’s baked goods and want to but also can’t make the trip, you can grab one (or more) of their amazingly delicious cookie cream sandwiches!

If you’re looking for a pretty lunch cafe with a nice, open atmosphere and awesome sandwich portions, I’d totally recommend giving Atelier a whirl.  I really love their tomato focaccia bread and I’m looking forward to my next visit so I can try out something else.  And maybe next time I won’t walk out of there waddling on such a full stomach!

*****

Atelier Cafe Lounge is located at 510 King St. West, west of Spadina Ave.  They serve both breakfast and lunch during the day and turn into a lounge and nightclub at night.  Once I get their operating hours, I’ll come back and update!

Black-and-White Damask & Tomato Focaccia Sandwiches – Hip, Posh, Modern Atelier Cafe Lounge, Part I

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Looking back at these photos makes me “Ooo” and “ahhh” as I remember the gorgeous black-and-white decor, plushy seats, and yummy sandwich lunch I ate here, all the while knowing this foodie encounter was completely accidental.  When Atelier Cafe and I first met a number of months ago, I was thoroughly confused.  I know I can’t be the only one in the city to have made this blunder, but I went to Atelier thinking it was still Spice Safar.  Atelier Cafe Lounge, located on King St. West, occupies the exact same space that Spice Safar bakery and cafe used to be in so when I walked in with a WagJag voucher to Spice Safar, I was coloured baffled when I was told Spice Safar had been replaced.  Oh how embarrassing.  There I was standing around with a voucher to a place that no longer existed!  WagJag voucher aside (which Atelier thankfully still honoured by allowing me to redeem whatever I had paid for it), I managed to find myself standing in a lovely posh cafe with a delicious sandwich menu to boot.  Here is my teaser part I photo post before I show you all the yummies tomorrow!

*****

Atelier Cafe Lounge is located at 510 King St. West, west of Spadina Ave.  They serve both breakfast and lunch during the day and turn into a lounge and nightclub at night.