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!

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Chicka-Chicka-Boom-Boom! Chick Peas, Sunflower Seeds, and Other Crunchy Munchies at Freshii

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If you couldn’t tell by the scrapbooking and my love for adorable decor in foodie places, I LOVE working with themes!  Themes get my creative juices flowing like crazy and it’s especially fun applying it to my meals!  I think it’s really great when an eatery fills their own niche, has their own personality, and is cohesive in their decor and menu.  Call me a food nerd, but when I look over a Freshii “menu” (the little white checklists attached to the cute little clipboards which you can view here), I start thinking of how I can put together a meal centered around a common theme and how I can make it really fun 😀  I look over all the toppings and ingredients and think, “Ooo, this would make a good ‘breakfast’ themed meal!” or “oh yum, if I put these ingredients together, it’ll taste like a Mediterranean pizza!”  and “hey, I could make this into a Chinese take-out box!”  I guess this is part of the fun in eating at Freshii, being able to truly customize a meal in whatever way you like.  I feel excited when I come to eat here not just because I enjoy the food but because it’s almost like a creative outlet.  And you know, creating a themed meal makes it that much more fun to scrapbook, ha.

The theme for this meal was crunchy munchie!  I thank my friend Maree for the inspiration for this term 😀  I know I can eat anything from salad to wraps to burritos to soup here, but I love the brown rice bowls so much that I’ve never deviated from this since I first ate here during the fall season of 2009.  I know, shocking considering how much I harp on trying different things, right?  I do want to eventually try their soup with rice noodles, but brown rice bowls at Freshii are one of the few things that I stick with on a consistent basis and I’m pretty content with that for the time being.

I wanted to go full out with the flavour and the texture, so what I have here is a brown rice bowl with baby spinach, avocado, shredded jack & cheddar cheese, sliced mushrooms, chopped celery, corn, cilantro, edamame beans, chick peas, and sunflower seeds with yummy caesar dressing.  The spinach, celery, chick peas, sunflower seeds, and edamame made me crunch-a-munch like crazy and I absolutely adored this combination.  The combination of cheddar and caesar dressing made it flavourful and rich and the whole thing was just fun to eat!  Your jaw might get a bit sore by the end of the meal, but I totally recommend this combination of ingredients and toppings!  You never know if certain flavours will mesh well with one another (I’m hesitant about putting mandarin oranges with chicken, eh) but I’m glad that this meal turned out delicious.  I think next time I’ll try out my Meditteranean pizza idea!

Freshii is also offering a Spring Fling menu for the season with special menu items like the santa fe salad, sprouter bowl, and buffalo chicken burrito.  Click the link up top for more info on what’s in each of these menu items.  If I can get around to it, I think might be interested in trying either the santa fe salad or the sprouter bowl.  Happy crunchy munching everyone!

*****

Freshii in Toronto serves 11 locations in the city with one also serving Mississauga.  Click here for a list and map of specific locations, as well as more information on Freshii’s menu, goals, and mission statement.  The Yonge and St.Clair Freshii is located at 1560 Yonge St., just north of St. Clair Ave. on the west side of Yonge.   

The Name’s Sprout…Alfalfa Sprout. Here’s My Partner Banana Pepper. And We’re Fabulous in a Sandwich!

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I’ve become very amoured with alfalfa sprouts with just about everything, and I’ve recently developed quite a crush on hot banana peppers too!  After eating my fab grilled cheese sandwich from T&T Bakery and Café I thought to myself, “why in the world have I not been eating banana peppers more??”  And so began the hunt for a decent jar of the spicy stuff to add my growing list of sandwich fillings.  My tolerance for spicy food is certainly not sky high, but I can take a bit of heat.  I’m finding it really fun to try out different veggie combinations in my sandwiches and to switch things up whenever I can.  Mushrooms, grilled zucchini, bell peppers, spinach, arugula, herbs, different lettuces and cheeses – I love them all and the combinations are endless.   

Part of the reason why I’ve suddenly become so inspired by sandwiches within the last little while has a bit to do with the great bread my mum and I consistently get from our local bakery, and it also has to do with something my friend Wini brought up almost a month ago.  She wanted to find great vegetarian and vegan sandwiches around the city and since then, I’ve been on the hunt not just for her, but for me as well.  I’ve found several amazing ones to tuck into my “sandwich portfolio” along the way (grilled vegetables on tomato foccacia!  Breaded eggplant and basil on a crusty baguette!) and I’m on the lookout for as many great sammies as possible.  Part of the issue, I think, is that there’s a lack of creativity with fillings.  Lettuce and tomato just don’t cut it anymore (or did they ever?) so it makes it all the more fun and challenging to find something fabulous and worth eating out for.  Experimenting in the kitchen allows me to try out different combinations of flavours and it inspires me to look  for creativity elsewhere.

Although not vegetarian, it was a tasty sandwich if I do say so myself!  A pepperoni sandwich with mozzerella cheese, baby spinach, alfalfa sprouts, and hot banana peppers on crunchy kaiser bun!  Crunchy, spicy, and all sorts of yummy.  The sandwich experiments are delish and the vegetarian and vegan sandwich hunt in the city continues on.  I’m really excited to share my discoveries when I eventually gather up a good-sized selection and I have a few places in mind to try out, so keep an eye out for my full on report by summer!          

The Sandwich Kick Continues – Alfalfa and Peppers and Cucumbers, Oh My! Fresh Kaisers from Raymerville Bakery

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I wasn’t lying when I said I was on a sandwich rampage.  All I could think of when I woke up yesterday morning was sinking my teeth into some fresh crunchy bread and turkey and veggies.  For your viewing pleasure today: the lovely sandwich I made for lunch yesterday!  Mum and I went on a grocery and bakery run yesterday morning and we picked up the fresh kaiser buns from Raymerville Deli and Bakery ($0.45 each, or $4.50 for a dozen) that my brother and I love so dearly.  Oh gosh, these kaiser buns are just divine.  They are the size of your face and they are crunchy and soft at the same time.  You know they’re delicious when you can envision yourself eating one without anything on it.  And that’s saying a lot about bread considering most people would wrinkle their nose if they had to eat bread all by its lonesome! 

A few packs of fresh deli meat and a few tons of fruits and vegetables later and we were good to go.  I made myself a kaiser sandwich with some oven roasted turkey, mozzerella cheese, a little mayo and honey mustard (what you see peeking out underneath the top bun), baby spinach, alfalfa sprouts, cucumbers, and green bell peppers.  This thing was so big my jaw cracked every time I tried to fit it in my mouth (it’s not as painful as it sounds.  Actually, it’s not painful at all.  I have a weird cracky jaw).  I “mmm”ed my way through lunch and even though everyone else had devoured their sammies and made fun of me for only getting through a third of mine by that time , I’d like to think that I’m the winner because I get to savour my sandwich the longest 😀

*****

Raymerville Deli & Bakery is located within the strip plaza right at the intersection of McCowan Rd. and Ramerville Drive south, on the east side of McCowan (Carlton Rd. is on the west side of McCowan).  It’s about a 10 minute walk (or a 2 or 3 minute drive) from Markville Mall.  They are closed on Mondays.

Because I Love Black Beans and Avocado That Much! A Black Bean Burrito My Way

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Following from yesterday’s Fresh post, I’m going to continue declaring my love for black beans!  I loved my black bean burrito dish from Fresh SO much that I wanted to create my own version.  And oh my goodness was this ever delicious and satisfying.  We had a bunch of whole wheat tortillas left over from a previous tortilla night (you know, those nights when you make a batch of chicken or ground beef, make some salsa, chop up a bunch vegetables, that kind of thing) and I had a great idea: make bean burrito filling to go with it!  

It was really fun preparing for this meal just because it felt like it was coming more from me than it was from my mum who does the cooking in the house, you know?  From the grocery shopping to the black bean mashing with my potato masher, it felt good to see a meal from start to finish.  Not to mention that even though my family isn’t vegetarian, it’s been so cool seeing them embrace more vegetarian meals and foods.  Even my carnivore of a brother loves the soy cheese I bought!  😀  He was little weirded out by my meat-less meal, but hey, if I can get him to really like soy cheese, I’ll eventually be able to get him to eat a meal without meat one day!  The black beans were from President’s Blue Menu and they were really good.  A few rinses in the colander and they were good to go.  I had myself a field day with this meal: lots of baby spinach, a handful of alfalfa sprouts, mashed black beans, wedges of avocado with freshly squeezed lime juice, and a dollop of sour cream with a sprinkling of green onions.  SO YUMMY.  Dinner is served! 😀