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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Mi Casa es Su Casa – Cod Stuffed Corn Empanadas & Creamy Black Beans at La Mexicana

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Considering that I had this meal on Cinco de Mayo this past May, this post is waaaayyy overdue.  But you all know how I am with the scrapbook pages and I’d like to think that every day is a fiesta of sorts, so we’ll celebrate the tail-end of the long weekend celebrations with some REALLY delicious Mexican food!  La Mexicana and I were actually acquainted for the first time back in 2009 during the winter holidays and I loved the food so much that I’ve been daydreaming about it ever since.  Located in Yorkville just north of Bloor St. West, it’s conveniently located right near the subway and to many other neighbourhoods in the city that I adore.  You can stroll on Yonge St. or Bay St., browse Yorkville, walk the underground malls of Cumberland and Manulife Centre and so much more.  When I’m in this area, I never have to wonder how I’m going to plan my day because there are so many options.

I love Mexican, Tex-Mex, the whole bit.  The thought of fajitas, taquitos, empanadas, beans, tortilla soup, and enchiladas has my stomach growling and my taste buds panting.  Although the piping hot fajita plates look amazing here, my favourite thing about La Mexicana has to be the small plate lunches (the antojitos) and sides.  They have a lunch menu and a dinner menu and to my surprise, there are a number of vegetarian options on the menu as well as gluten-free.  Vegan options are a bit harder to come by though.  I’ve really enjoyed going to places with a menu that caters to different diets and lifestyles because I’m able to tuck these places away on mental sticky note for future places to consider for outings with friends or larger groups of people.

Their meat options include chicken, beef, and seafood (shrimp and cod fish, for example), and they have a variety of vegeterian small plate lunches and mains.  Dishes like Queso Fundido (bell peppers covered in melted cheese and pumpkin seeds), Ensalada de Calabacita (grilled zucchini and corn salad), Elote (corn on the cob with feta and cayenne pepper), black bean and vegetable burritos, and vegetarian enchiladas, chimichangas, and quesadillas.

I adore fish tacos so back in 2009 my friend Sally and I ordered their pescadillas, corn empanadas filled with salted cod fish (bacalao) with spicy avocado salsa and sour cream.  This meal was so delicious and yes, very spicy!  The corn empanadas were a dark, almost black, colour (think blue or black corn chips) and they were stuffed with soft, flaky cod fish.  The empanadas themselves weren’t spicy, it was the avocado sauce that had us tearing up!  It was insanely good and it was this scumptiousness that had me coming back for more.  Fast forward to Cinco de Mayo this past May.  I adore the same thing, along with a side of black beans and feta cheese, and to my surprise, the dish looks different.

Back in 2009, the corn empanadas with fish looked like this, up top.

Instead of dark coloured empanadas, the corn pockets were a light golden brown.  And instead of 2 medium to large-sized empanadas, there were FOUR medium-sized ones!  Finally, instead of the huffy-puffy-blinking-back-tears avocado salsa, it was a MUCH milder creamy avocado guacamole.  The difference in appearance completely threw me off, but I recall that La Mexicana had recently revamped their menu a bit and had also launched a website for the restaurant since the last time I had gone, so I chalked it up to them trying something new and interpreting the dish in a different way.  Just as delicious.  The fish was savoury and flaky and I had an absolute FIELD DAY dunking my empanadas in the thick avocado sauce and in my black beans.  My black beans side dish also took me by surprise.  I was expecting a dish of whole beans, but instead, it was a baking dish of smooth, creamy, whipped-like-butter black beans with feta cheese sprinkled on top.  Oh my god was this ever amazing.  You could literally spoon the stuff and stick it in your mouth because it was that good.

They give you a basket of corn chips with lots of dipping sauces and prices for lunch will run around $8 to $13 if you order a meal like mine ($10 for the pescadillas and $3 for the side of black beans and feta).  If you order the laaaarge platters that include sides of black beans and rice with fajitas, enchiladas, burritos, etc., it’ll come up to around $13-$17.  Prices are on par with Tequila Sunrise and what I like about the menu is how you can mix and match with the lunch plates (antojitos) and sides.  I’m waiting for the day I get to try some more of their food (like their potato and chirizo stuffed empanadas!).  Meanwhile, I’ll peruse their online menu, admire their beautiful and adorable decor (they have painted cactus outside their storefront, ha), and let my tummy grumble over the thought of guacamole, sour cream, and corn pockets.

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La Mexicana is located at 838 Yonge St. in between Yorkville Ave. and Cumberland St., north of Bloor Street.  They are open 7 days a week at 11am.  They are open until 10pm from Sunday-Thursday and until 11pm on Fridays and Saturdays.  For more info, visit their website here.

Scrapbooking materials used: to be added!