Bringing Great Brunch to the Masses – Baby Arugula & Mango Salsa, Stuffed Croissants, and More at The Commissary

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I didn’t waste any time, did I?  Last week I wrote the 2nd edition of Confessions of a Brunch Obsessed Foodie listing several weekend brunch picks from Leslieville, the land of good food, and *BAM!*, here I am reporting back with a mouthwatering account of The Commissary, one of the three spots I featured in that post.  What can I say?  I had eating to do errands to run in the east end and The Commissary, with its corner location and big windows facing the street, becknoned me like a little floating magical fairy holding a cupcake.  I have to say, I have never pounced on a new discovery so fast.  Normally when I find out about a place I’ve never been to, I take a quick photo of it from the outside, “tuck it away” in my mind (or on my computer; these days they might as well be one and the same) and then figure out a good time to make a real visit which often takes me weeks or even months.  This time?  Within 2 weeks.  The menu looked too good to pass up, I wanted to give you all a first-hand look at one of the newer eateries in this part of town, and it just fit into my schedule and my flow of errands.  Done and done.

The Commissary, located at Queen Street East and Logan Ave., has only been in business for about half a year but judging from the great crowds, you’d never know it.  The place was packed the first time I walked by its front window and door and if you can believe it, I was 2nd in line even before they officially opened their doors for weekend brunch at 10am.  It takes a long time for a food business to get its feet wet, especially in a city as food crazy and critical as ours.  Trust Torontonians to get into a debate online about cupcakes and it cultural significance!  But it truly seems to be thriving in Leslieville because it’s attracting different types of people.  You have young-ins, you have girlfriends, you have families with babies, you have the whole kit and caboodle – and everyone is having a great time in a bright, fresh, airy atmosphere. 

Now, everyone who writes about The Commissary will discuss the significance of its name – heck, even The Commissary themselves provide definitions of what a commissary is on their website.  It’s worth noting though because it really plays into the atmosphere and the feel of the bistro.  A commissary can refer to either “a store that sells food and supplies to the personnel or workers in a military post, mining camp, lumber camp, or the like” or “a dining room or cafeteria, especially one in a motion-picture studio”.  

In order for the name to make sense, we’re not supposed to take these definitions literally but rather use them to make sense of the surroundings around us and the feelings we have while we’re here.  Case in point: the reference to the working class in the first definition speaks to the unpretetnious way food is made here.  Read: it’s not fuss and frills.  It’s just damn good food and tap water in glass bottles (you have to read what the bottle says, it’ll make you laugh).  Even the menu items that scream fancier pants (like my arugula salad with mango salsa and goat cheese crumbles, $5 side) are so simple and fresh and down-to-earth.  And the giant side of breakfast potatoes for $3?  Soft, starchy, cute, insanely scrumptious, and something straight out of a local greasy spoon diner only not greasy. 

Finally, while we foodies aren’t surrounded by red carpets, lights, cameras, and action, you definitely feel like a star dining at a hip and happening hot spot.  And it also helps that everyone who passes by will undoubtedly be curious and glance through the windows to take a peek at the hustle and bustle and, you know, your food.  Because I sure did!  As well, if you take a look at their website, it exudes that old-time Hollywood glamour (I’m looking at you, Fred and Ginger), with black and white photos of old town Toronto and what I’m assuming is old town Leslieville.

The Commissary’s weekend brunch menu is full to bursting with egg breakfasts, breakfast sandwiches, salads, meat mains, vegetarian delights, and plenty of cheesy goodness!  The menu is a jack-of-all-trades.  Prices range from $7-$12, with breakfast sides coming in at $3-$5.50.  Their refreshing salads are available as mains or sides (curried shrimp and melon, caprese, watercress with jicama and Granny Smith apple just to name a few), there are 5 different types of eggs benny including peameal, grilled tomatoes, and applewood smoked bacon and smoked gouda *cue my mouth watering here*, stuffed croissants such as apple compote and brie (OH.MY.GOD) and PB & J, hearty meat dishes (roast beef steak and eggs, lobster and mango salsa, and roast beef and sauteed shrimp surf n’ turf), vegetarian dishes (ratatouille and beans and salsa rancheros), and cheese present in about 3/4 of the dishes.  I LOVE IT.  I ordered a ridiculous amount of food because I couldn’t walk away knowing I didn’t try a little bit of everything my heart desired and it paid off because it was delicious and I didn’t even feel bogged down afterward.

I was in the mood for some veggies and cheese so I went all out and had their vegetarian pepper and cheese stuffed grilled croissant ($9) with roasted red peppers, caramelized onions, and warm, creamy goat cheese, which was served with fruit and a side green salad.  You don’t see stuffed croissant breakfast sandwiches much on brunch menus!  And then I added a side baby arugula and mango salsa salad with goat cheese crumbles, grilled red onion, and sunflower seeds.  And then for good measure I ordered a side of breakfast potatoes for my boyfriend and I to share.  I barely had enough room for my camera!  It was fabulous vegetarian brunch feast.  The grilled croissant was buttery and crispy and savoury with my roasted and sauteed veggies, the goat cheese was abundant, and I would have that baby arugula and mango salsa salad over and over again in a heartbeat, only as a main the next time! 

I love how crisp all the flavours were for everything and how bright, casual, and relaxing the whole place was.  The space may not be the biggest, but it’s a sweet place with great food and a happy atmosphere; you can’t ask for more.

*****

The Commissary is located at 889 Queen Street East at the southeast corner of Queen and Logan Ave. in Leslieville.

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Vegetarian Sandwich Series – Wishful Thinking of Portobellos and Honey-Nut Bread at Sky Blue Sky Sandwiches!

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It’s about time I made it to Sky Blue Sky Sandwiches!  I’ve been meaning to do a post on them for the Vegetarian Sandwich Series for months now (months is actually an understatement – I’d say it’s been a good year!) and I’m thrilled that I got the chance to sink my teeth into one of their delicious veggie sandwiches.  The Vegetarian Sandwich Series was the very first special series I thought of and started on Ate by Ate back in June of 2011 and it was entirely inspired by my vegetarian friend, Wini, who wanted to know where the best vegetarian sandwiches in the city were hiding.  Since I started the series, I’ve been on the hunt for the yummiest sandwiches, the joints with the best selection, and the hidden gems and surprises and I’ve found some amazing eats! 

Even though I’ve barely knicked the surface (if I posted everything on my “behind the scenes” ongoing list all at once, there wouldn’t be anything to post 3 years from now!), I’m glad that Sky Blue Sky Sandwiches has finally made its way to the blog because it’s been on my hit list for so long.  A vegetarian sandwich series just without be complete without the sandwich cafe in town with half a menu of veggie sandwiches!

       

Located on Bloor Street West bordering the Annex, Mirvish Village, and Koreatown, Sky Blue Sky Sandwiches is the all mighty soup and sandwich cafe with over 20 sandwich choices on their sandwich menu!  With picnic, diner friendly red and white checkered tablecloths and cute sandwich names to boot, this is the perfect place for sandwich fanatics (think Joey from FRIENDS), deli lovers, casual diners, diners on a budget ($4-$5 sandwiches!), carnivores, and herbivores alike.  Their menu has so much variety and selection that when you read through it, you’ll be thinking, “oh my goodness, which sandwich do I love and want more?” as opposed to, “hmm, so, what are my choices?”  Knowing I wanted a veggie sandwich clearly wasn’t good enough when I had 10 choices to mull over! 

In terms of meat sandwiches, choices include oven roasted turkey (the One Wing sandwich sounds like a Thanksgiving sandwich constructed from heaven), slow roasted pulled pork, roast beef, smoked chicken, black forest ham, bacon, capicola (an Italian cold cut), and tuna.

Vegetarians can rejoice because their vegetarian choices are even more varied than their meat ones!  Chad of Sky Blue Sky Sandwiches tells me that the ho-hum lettuce, tomato, and sprout combination just doesn’t cut it when it comes to providing a menu that captures the essence of how creative vegetarian sandwich creation and eating can be.  Part of the fun of vegetarian sandwich creation is mixing and matching vegetables, fruits, and non-meat proteins with delicious breads.  Sky Blue Sky definitely has one of the larger vegetarian sandwich menu selections in town and choices include portobello mushrooms, avocado, almond butter and banana, mozzarella, tomato, and basil, cashew butter, roasted chick peas with curry and mango chutney, pear and Gouda grilled cheese, basil pesto, roasted red peppers, and SO MUCH MORE.

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Vegetarian Sandwich Series: Grilled Mushroom Goat Cheese Wrap & Curry Egg Salad at Hank’s

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Here’s a secret, and maybe even a tip for those who want some inspiration: even though I make a lot of my foodie discoveries all on my own just by walking around, I have a little help finding out about a lot of others.  When I feel like roaming around the interwebs for yummylicious places that might be up my alley, I actually look up Winterlicious and Summerlicious listings and menus and jot down notes! 

And I mean actual notes, as hastily scrawled as they are.  I have a page in my Muffymade notebook with scribbles of places I want to revisit, a page dedicated to places I want to nosh at in the near future, random photos of places to keep in mind when I’m in a hurry and can’t whip my notebook and pen out, and a word document saved on my computer specifically devoted to “places of interest” taken from past Winterlicious and Summerlicious listings.  I think to myself, if the menus during the price fixe events intrigued me so much that I was compelled to take notes, there has to be something of substance on the regular menu and these places are probably something pretty special.  And that’s how I felt about Hank’s.

Hank’s is a fresh and lovely breakfast and lunch diner, located on Church St. just south of Front St. East and sandwiched between Wine Bar and Great Burger Kitchen.  The restaurant is used to hold private functions and parties in the evenings, but it’s best to call them in advance to see what their hours are as I noticed a note on their chalkboard when I went about a change in evening dining hours.  Hank’s is crisp, clean, and kind of like a breath of fresh air with their open French doors, and white and gray decor with pops of red and shimmering chandeliers and lights.  The diner is spacious and roomy with more intimate booths and table further into the diner for intimate social gatherings, a few bar tables and stools for those having a drink, and two tables beside the open French doors with cushy seats and round tables for that perfect breezy lunch.  It’s exactly like being out on a nice patio with the fresh air without actually being outside.

I was so curious about Hanks’s from the Winterlicious and Summerliciuous appearances that I looked them up and browsed their regular menu online.  To my delight, there was a ton of food totally worth going for on a regular non-Winter/Summerlicious day including their weekday breakfast menu and large weekend brunch menu, as well as a host of lunchtime sandwiches and other diner eats.  Prices for lunch will probably run you an average of $6-$10 (before taxes), and brunch floats around the $7-$11 mark.  I can’t blog about this just yet, but for non-vegetarians and vegans (basically carnis) you absolutely MUST order the smoked chicken poutine.  It will change your life.  But, more about that another time!   I know, I’m a tease. 

I noticed several vegetarian sandwich items on the menu and thought, “sweet, an even better reason to give this place a go!  I’ll get to add to my blog series!”  Aside from their daily specials which could include vegetarian items (a daily soup, maybe an omelette or frittata, and a lunch main), Hank’s has three vegetarian sandwich lunch options on their day-to-day, regular menu:

  1. Mushroom and goat cheese wrap with roasted garlic and white bean, spinach, sweet red peppers, and pickled onions
  2. Sweet chili tofu pita with avocado, zucchini, eggplant, spinach, and sun dried tomatoes
  3. Deviled egg salad sandwich with green onions, curried mayo, paprika and lettuce

What’s really nice is that a number of their sandwich lunch items come in half portions at, obviously, a lesser price.  Granted, even though getting a whole portion would be more worth your money, it’s great for people like me and others who want to try more than one item but can’t eat two full portions or can’t afford paying for two at full price!  I was lucky because the two menu items I was contemplating on having had that option, so I chose the mushroom and goat cheese wrap and the deviled egg salad sandwich.  Win-win!  The tortilla wrap was awesomely grilled and it was stuffed with tons of juicy, fresh vegetables.  It was so full of crunchy spinach leaves (there was probably a very generous fistful in it), sweet red onions (not raw but pickled, so they were soft red onions that had less of that spicy bite), and soft juicy red peppers and plump mushrooms with creamy goat cheese.  I loved both of my lunch items but if I had to choose a favourite, the deviled egg salad sandwich knocked it out of the park.

This is not your ho-hum egg salad sandwich in your old kiddie lunch box.  This egg salad was SO flavourful and so delicious.  When I read the description, it sounded great but I had my reservations.  Not because I thought it wouldn’t taste good, but because I was unsure how the curry and paprika flavours would play out.  I was afraid that the flavours would be too subtle and that it would end up getting lost, thus reducing my egg salad sandwich to ho-hum status.  When something says curry, you expect that great punch of flavour.  This sandwich was so not ho-hum.  I could eat an entire mixing bowl of this egg salad because it’s that good.  The mix of spices is so perfect and when I bit into it each time, the flavours were reminiscent of the savoury curry sauces I loved so much from Indian and Chinese places.  The lettuce added a great dimension of crunch and the bread…oh the bread.  Delicious stuff.  Hank uses Fred’s Bread and for the egg salad sandwich, they used Fred’s whole grain variety.

The neighbourhood Hank’s is located in is super convenient because it’s just steps away from the St. Lawrence Market and the “greater” downtown core, and walking distance from Union Station making it easily accessible by public transit.  The atmosphere is great and I’m so glad my ridiculous note-taking paid off because I have found myself (and others, if you’re interested in trying them out!) yet another wonderful breakfast and lunch spot that I can’t wait to go back to.

 

*****

Hank’s is located at 9 1/2 Church St. (no, that’s not a typo, 9 1/2!), just south of Front St. East.  They are open for breakfast and lunch 7 days a week and offer a weekend brunch menu on Saturdays and Sundays.  They are open from 7am-5pm on weekdays, and from 8am-4pm on weekends.  Call them if you’re interested in dining there for dinner as they have changed their hours for the evenings.  The diner is also available for private parties and corporate events.  Click here to view their website and menus.

The Vegetarian Sandwich Series: Thirteen Veggie Sandwich Choices at Gayley’s Cafe on Dundas Street West

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As promised, here’s the list of vegetarian sandwiches available at Gayley’s Cafe on Dundas Street West!  Like I mentioned yesterday, their sandwiches are served on your choice of calabrese, rye, pita, multigrain, or white bread.  These items are taken straight from the menu which I photographed for my own reference.  They don’t have a website and their menu isn’t accessible online for the time being, so I hope this helps!

  1. Avocado, cucumber, roasted peppers, alfalfa sprouts
  2. Avocado, roasted peppers, alfalfa sprouts
  3. Avocado, melted cheese, sautéed mushrooms
  4. Roasted zucchini, cheese, sundried tomatoes
  5. Avocado, sundried tomatoes, roasted peppers, lettuce
  6. Grilled zucchini, cheese, sundried tomatoes, alfalfa sprouts
  7. Grilled zucchini, cheese, olives, alfalfa sprouts
  8. Roasted peppers, cheese, tomatoes, alfalfa sprouts
  9. Cucumber, cream cheese, sundried tomatoes, alfalfa sprouts
  10. Lettuce, tomatoes, cheese
  11. Hummus, red peppers, alfalfa sprouts
  12. Grilled cheese
  13. Fried egg sandwich

*****

Gayley’s Cafe is located at 1424 Dundas St. West, east of Dufferin St. off Gladstone Ave.  They serve all-day breakfast as well as a number of meat sandwiches and coffee drinks.  The next time I go, I’ll jot down their breakfast dishes, well as their other non-sandwich meals!

The Vegetarian Sandwich Series: Crunchy Calabrese & Veggie Sandwiches at Gayley’s Cafe on Dundas West

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Some of the best discoveries are purely accidental.  Remember that ridiculously long walk I took on Dundas Street West back in April?  The one I took because I was curious and feeling ambitious?  And remember how I said I made a bunch of really great foodie discoveries along the way?  Well, Gayley’s Cafe was one of them!  Thinking back to that long walk I took on that gray, overcast, chilly day, I’m amused.  I remember wearing my knit hat, a scarf, and my fuzzy mulberry purple winter coat and little flurries floating around when I left downtown to go back home.  And when I actually came back to Gayley’s for a meal a month and half later?  I was hot and sweaty in the blazing sun *chuckles* That’s the passing of time for you!

Located east of Dufferin St. near Gladstone Ave. on Dundas Street West, Gayley’s is a beautiful, homey breakfast, brunch, and lunch cafe with enough sandwiches to last us all a lifetime!  Gayley’s is gorgeous with an air of lightness and sunnyness.  It grabbed my attention with its exterior of pale yellow and cornflower blue, and it delighed me with its interior of neutral colour bricks and colourful, whimsical paintings and artwork.  The brick walls are studded with the work of local artists that are actually for sale, and all I could think of was, “what I would give for such beautiful artwork!”  Not only is Gayley’s a feast for the tummy, but it’s a feast for the eyes.

Gayley’s menu speciality is their sandwiches.  And if you’re looking for vegetarian options, boy do they ever have a list!  I’ll write out a list of all their vegetarian sandwiches soon, but a quick count from their menu shows 13 vegetarian sandwich options.  Most of their vegetarian sandwiches have a combination of vegetables such as roasted peppers, roasted zucchini, avocado, alfalfa, olives, cheese, sundried tomatoes, mushrooms, and spreads such as cream cheese and hummus.  There’s also grilled cheese and a fried egg sandwich too. 

Their sandwiches are served on your choice of calabrese, rye, pita, multi-grain, or white bread and all come with a side green salad with vinegar dressing.  It took me forever and a half to narrow down my choices because there were so many, but I finally decided on an avocado, melted cheese, and sautéed mushroom sandwich on crunchy calabrese bread.  If you ask, they’ll put additional ingredients in your sandwich with an additional charge, so I also added roasted red peppers to my sandwich for an extra dollar.  I can’t say for sure exactly what type of cheese was used, but it tasted like a combination of cheddar and jack cheese. 

I loved my sandwich.  It was HUGE!  The bread was nice and crusty and the best part of my sandwich was the way the melted cheese meshed with sautéed mushrooms and roasted peppers, while the avocado provided the sandwich with some fresh creaminess.  The avocado, although not the creamiest I’ve ever had in my life, was very good still and was sliced in cubes in my sandwich.  I also enjoyed my salad which was comprised of romaine lettuce, mixed greens, sliced carrots, and red cabbage.  If you’re not into vingear dressing though, tell them to hold it because they do dress their salad generously.  I don’t mind the vinegar dressing at all because my tastebuds like the slight sour tang to it.  It makes sense considering how I love salt n’ vinegar potato chips!

Even though I didn’t try their all-day breakfast, I did order a side of home fries with my sandwich.  I know, I eat like a horse, and no, I didn’t eat the whole dish of home fries!  I shared them with my boyfriend and we brought the rest to-go with us when we finished our meal.  Anyway, Gayley’s home fries are awesome!  Every place that serves breakfast has a different way of serving home fries; some places will do them beefsteak, potato wedge style (like Futures Bakery), while other places dice them into small cubes, or serve them like scalloped potatoes (coin home fries as I like to call them) among other ways. 

Gayley’s home fries are like half circle (or half moon) wedges of potato and gosh, are they ever good!  I really love my home fries in wedges like these, and they weren’t dry, overly starchy, or overly chewy.  They were delicious meaty potato home fries that I would order again in a heartbeat!

Prices here are well worth it.  Their vegetarian sandwiches are all around $5.95-$6.95 and I was so satisfied after my meal.  I haven’t had any of their breakfast dishes yet, but judging the plates I saw on others customers’ tables they are biiiig.  Their breakfast and lunch menus are together on the same menu, so if you want a sandwich on rye at 10am, you could totally go for it!  The only blip in their menu that I noticed was the very last vegetarian sandwich listing which was, well, not vegetarian, but hey, one minor mistake at the end of the menu isn’t too big of a deal for a place that has over 30 sandwich options.  It’s a bright sunny cafe with a ton of options for both carnivores and vegetarians alike, so I would definitely recommend Gayley’s for those who loves sandwiches, and for those who adore breakfast, brunch, and lunch meals 😀

*****

Gayley’s Cafe is located at 1424 Dundas St. West, east of Dufferin St. off Gladstone Ave. 

Scrapbooking materials used: pale yellow and blue cardstock (Recollections); patterned paper (Green Tea stack by DCWV); bright blue alphabet stickers (Recollections); adhesive flower embellishments (Posies by Autumn Leaves, Creativity Inc.); paper corner rounder (ek success); black felt tip Sharpie marker.

Vegetarian Sandwich Series – Country Kitchen Cooking & A Grilled Eggplant, Sundried Tomato, & Feta Pita at Sage Cafe

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I honestly can’t tell you how I found out about Sage.  For a girl who prides herself on having a good memory, this bothers me.  I don’t remember if I happened to find it through a random Google search for vegetarian sandwiches in the city or if I happened to learn about the downtown cafe through another site.  But I will tell you this: when I found out they served an abundance of vegetarian meals including a whole list of whole wheat pita wraps with vegetarian ingredients, I pumped my fist in the air and went, “YES!  PAY DIRT!” 😀  Especially considering it’s located in an area that’s actually rather central in the downtown core but unknown to many of my friends. 

Sage is located near the AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario) on McCaul St., just off of Elm St.  For whatever reason, this area seems to be a black hole for many people I know, including myself prior to this year!  The black hole seems to spread between Elm, Baldwin, or McCaul (or any combination of the three), and when I’m in these areas with friends, it’s very amusing to hear my them say, “I have no idea where we are!”  Have no fear, I am your food compass 😀

Much like Futures Bakery in the Annex, Sage’s menu isn’t wholly vegetarian.  They do, however, have MANY vegetarian options though, which makes it a great lunch spot for both vegetarians and carnivores.  The vegetarian sandwiches come in the form of whole wheat pita wraps and they are BIG!  I’m pretty sure you can have the option of having the wrap filling served on other types of grain/bread, just ask.  Vegetarian wraps are priced at $6.50 and they are well worth it not just because of their size, but because of how much food they stuff in them.  Their list of vegetarian tortilla wraps include:

  • grilled eggplant, sundried tomato, and feta cheese
  • dijon egg and avocado
  • grilled vegetables
  • grilled portobello mushrooms and brie
  • avocado, feta cheese, and roast pepper sauce
  • hummus and fresh vegetables
  • falafel with tahini and fresh vegetables
  • spicy tofy and peanut sauce

I had me a grilled eggplant, sundried tomato, and feta pita wrap and added some avocado for an extra charge (I can’t remember how much I added for the avocado, but it definitely wasn’t more than a dollar).  Was I ever excited when I got my pita wrap!  It was mondo big with SO MUCH VEGGIES stuffed inside!  Along with the eggplant, sundried tomato, and feta, my pita wrap was stuffed with romaine, tomato, cucumber, shredded carrots, alfalfa sprouts, and red cabbage. 

The wrap was crunchy, fresh, and savoury from both the sundried tomato and feta cheese, and the eggplant was sliced in large wedges with the blistered skin still on, YUM!  And I know this sounds silly, but this point is worth making: the pita wrap stayed intact!  I know some people shy away from pitas and tortillas and the like because stuff just crumbles and fulls out out of it and it becomes too messy to eat.  The pita was wrapped in such a way that the stuff actually stayed inside for the most part.  I mean, sure, some feta crumbles may have slipped out, but it definitely wasn’t a leaky wrap and it wasn’t messy.

Sage serves a number of other vegetarian dishes including pasta, salads, and a variety of quiches and soups.  Daily specials change on a regular basis, but on any given day you might see things like roasted pepper penne pasta with spinach, mushrooms, and olives; quinoa and vegetable salad; chick pea and red onion salad; lentil salad with bulghar and orange; eggplant parmesan; spicy stuffed plantain with sauteed peppers; pesto linguine with artichokes and sundried tomato; roasted red pepper linguine with black olives; pad thai; and vegetarian lasagna among others.

Even though the cafe is on the smaller side, I really feel it’s a fabulous lunch spot because the prices are reasonable (there are a number of “under $10 meals”, tax included!), portions are big, the food is fresh and healthy, and the cooking is done right before your eyes; owner Wendy Hernick was cooking up salads and pasta in the visible kitchen area while I was enjoying my meal. 

They also serve weekend brunch from 11am-3pm and although the prices for brunch and breakfast are a little on the pricier side, I caught a glimpse of someone else’s eggs benedict brunch dish as it was being brought to them and hot damn was the plate of food ever large.  Portion size isn’t an issue here, so it’s really, it’s up to each individual person on how much they’re willing to spend on weekend brunch.  Some won’t spend more than $10 and others feel fine spending $12 or $13.  Either way, I recommend the cafe for lunch for those looking for healthy, vegetarian options and an all-around great meal.  And hey, you just might make some foodie discoveries of your own around this “unchartered” territory 😉

*****

Sage Cafe and Catering is located at 166 McCaul St., just off Elm St.  It’s south of Baldwin St. and north of Dundas St. West.  It is located just several blocks north of the AGO and is open 7 days a week from 9am-5pm Monday through Friday and for weekend brunch from 11am-3pm.  For more info, click here.  The Vegetarian Sandwich Series is a series on Ate by Ate dedicated to showcasing great vegeterian sandwiches in and around the city of Toronto.  

The Vegetarian Sandwich Series – First Up: Futures Bakery and the Monsterous Grilled Vegetable Sandwich!

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I’m so excited to finally unveil this new series I’ve been working on – the vegetarian sandwich series!  Entirely inspired by my friend Wini who is my vegetarian foodie partner in crime, I wanted to showcase some of the fantastic veggie eats around the city and places that are vegetarian, vegan, or just plain veggie-friendly with lots of healthy and delicious options.  My vegetarian and vegan friends inspire me both in and outside the home kitchen.  Between comfort food at home and eating out at fine dining establishments, diners, mom-and-pop shops, and greasy spoons, there’s a kind of reciprocity that occurs.  The cooking and eating you do at home affects the choices you make when you’re out and about and conversely, what you eat when you’re out inspires you to take something away for future use at home. 

I find this to be especially true for me when it comes to vegetarian eating.  I’m inspired by combinations, colours, and flavours both in and out of my home and I’m always eager to discuss new recipes I’ve tried out as well as excitedly bringing back home stories of tasty dishes.  There have been times where I’ll see something on a menu and think, “huh, I didn’t think to put x, y, and z together in sandwich!” and I’ll end up being pleasantly surprised.  It’s all about learning and experimenting and expanding our foodie horizons.

So, first up for this vegetarian sandwich series is the amazing grilled vegetable sandwich at Future’s Bakery!  Not only does Future’s Bakery serve out-of-this-world all-day breakfasts, they also serve fantastic mountain-high sandwiches worthy enough to fill you (and stuff you silly) for dinner!  Futures seriously blows me away with their generous portions and wholesome delicious food. 

Their sandwiches are served on thick wedges of sundried tomato foccacia bread and are served with your choice of either two kinds of salad, or your choice of salad with a huge mound of yummy mashed potatoes with mushroom gravy.  They normally have around five different kinds of salad to choose from including spring mix greens, potato salad, beets, mixed vegetables, and fruit salad.  All their sandwich mains are priced between $6.49-$10.95 and yes, that’s including the salads and/or mashed potatoes!  Lunch at Futures starts at 11am and all mains are available to order until closing. 

Their grilled vegetable sandwich is piled high with leafy lettuce, tomato, cucumber, roasted red peppers, grilled zucchini, and grilled bell peppers.  This sandwich seriously lasted me through two meals and I really enjoyed it.  The vegetables were juicy (and by that I just mean juicy in flavour, not juicy as in leaky!) and the bread was soft, flavourful, and so full of herbs.  I’m a huuuge fan of places that utilize different types of bread outside the plain loaf of boring sliced white bread, so I definitely made a mental sticky note of their sundried tomato foccacia!  Oh, and the mashed potatoes and gravy!  Oh how I love how smart Futures is when it comes to their mashed potatoes.  They make a well in the mashed potatoes on your plate for the mushroom gravy to sit in so the gravy doesn’t get all over your sandwich and messy.  Genius!

Now, don’t get the wrong idea and think that this grilled vegetable sandwich is just lip service on their menu for vegetarians; they have a number of vegetarian sandwiches on their menu which makes for plenty of options!  They have eggplant sandwiches (breaded eggplant and eggplant parmesan), a simple cheese and veggie, and -get this- a PESTO, mozza, tomato sandwich! 😀  We all know how amazing pesto is.  Sigh.  I hope you guys have enjoyed this first installment of the veggie sandwich series, there’s plenty more where this came from and if any of you have suggestions, requests, or just discussion points pertaining to this, feel free to comment!  This is going to be a really fun series to write about.

*****

Futures Bakery and Cafe is located at 483 Bloor St. West, in between the main intersections and subway stations of Spadina Ave. and Bathurst St.  It sits right at the corner of Bloor St. and Brunswick Ave. on the south side of Bloor.  They are open from 7:30am to 2am 7 days a week.