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Life for people in the south end of the U of T area just keeps getting better. Never mind that real estate prices are going through the proverbial roof or the on going improvements to the transit system making the city run smoother (so they say). It's becoming a foodie mecca of sorts. Stalwart noshing destinations such as Kensington Market and Chinatown have always been great options. The last decade however has seen several great additions. Some of which, for instance, Caplansky's and Fancy Franks, you've read about here.
Welcome The Clubhouse Sandwich Shop to the nieghbourhood. The little eatery opened by neophyte restaurateur Doan Nguyen has quickly become the talk of the town. As first time restaurants go, this one avoids some of the pitfalls that plaque the newbie. First and foremost, location, location, location. It's in a good spot. Secondly, the food is first rate. It should go without saying but if you don't have a good product, you don't have anything. Lastly, they're not over thinking here. The menu is very simple. Soup and sandwiches and not too many choices either. You're far better off doing a few things very, very well than a number of things that leave people feeling; Meh. Simply put, Doan isn't (ahem) biting off more than he can chew.
The small store sits nestled on the edges of Chinatown and the University of Toronto. Inside it's minimalistic and "natural" looking. There's an abundant use of wood an a faux forest wall paper behind the counter. Suggesting the name is not an homage to the classic sandwich but the tree fort of ones childhood.
Seating is communal and can accommodate about a dozen seated and probably a handful more standing.
The kitchen, whence the goodies emerge is in the back.
So let's get a look at said goodies.
The triple cooked Hand Cut Fries are simply amazing. The best JEB claims to have had. Supported by the sight of him hoovering up every last crumb like a Dyson. So what exactly does "triple cooked" mean?? Well, the day before, large, skin on, wedge style potato chunks are boiled in salt water and left to dry for the next day. From there they get the standard double frying method (poached then crisped) that produces the best fries. To say these are crispy just doesn't do them justice. They're potato chip crisp on the outside and almost melt in your mouth fluffy/tender on the inside. Certainly some of the best I've ever had as well. I'm really hoping they offer a Cajun or some other type of seasoning down the road because I feel the possibilities are endless on this type of platform.
The Grilled Flank Steak sandwich is terrific. Very tasty marinated and grilled flank steak is accompanied by cashew pesto, braised red cabbage and Carlo's Trail Mix. I thought the whole thing had a very nice balance with, for the most part, no one thing taking a lead role. Once in a while however you'll get a bite and notice a bit more pesto or steak in the bite. JEB felt the steak was a little sparse and would be better with more. As I said I liked the balance however I could certainly agree that more steak would be a good thing. Seems to be just a fine tuning/personal preference issue.
The Beer Battered Fried Halibut is an amazing sandwich. There's plenty of fish on this and it's good in it's own right. The addition of tartar sauce, smoky mayo, lettuce and tomato are nice complements. It's light yet filling and keeps a nice crunch. Even with the flavours of the mayo and tartar it retains a bit of a simple feel taste wise.
So there you have it folks, some great sandwiches in an area that's becoming a bit of a go to neighbourhood food wise.
You can find The Clubhouse Sandwich Shop at 455 Spadina Ave in Toronto, On.
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You can also find them on the web, facebook and Twitter.
Well that's all for now folks, see ya next time in the food court.