Sassy club sandwich + fries @ Sassafraz

Now, I don’t always wake up in time for brunch, but when I do, there’d better be bacon awaitin’ for me. So, when I heard that Sassafraz, this upscale funky joint in Yorkville, was serving up a brunch club sandwich with house-roasted turkey and peppercorn bacon, I knew I had to come check it out…

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Now, this had to be one of the top five club sammies I’ve ever had, and I’m pretty sure I was partying in da club when it was invented. The turkey was fresh-carved and tender, the bacon was super-crispy, the way it should be, and then you had some crunch from the apples, melty cheese with a bit of sharpness from the brie at the end… You could put that on a flip-flop, sprinkle it with chicken base and garlic salt, serve it with bananas…and it would still taste good!!!

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As you can see, the fries were thin ‘n salty, but I loved the fact that they gave you both mayo and ketchup for dipping. You could go back and forth all day, or even make your own Mayochup… although you might wanna avoid getting shitfaced at 11 am. 😉

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We’ve got both kinds of duck here: confit AND breastern!

So, we’re hanging out at Le Batifole, this cozy neighbourhood French joint just a couple blocks from East Chinatown, and they’ve definitely got some funkalicious dishes. Escargot, cassoulet, steak béarnaise…but when I heard that they’re serving up both kinds of duck, well, cue up the theme from Rawhide, cuz we’re countin’ em out and ridin’ em in, Elwood!

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OK, now let’s break it down. The duck breast was fatty, chewy, rich and zesty, thanks to the creamy apple brandy sauce. You’ve also got some confit apples on the side for the extra sweetness. The confit was juicy, moist and chicken-leg tender, although it didn’t quite have that crispy skin. But they made up for it with the extra-crispness of these big fat fries, bro!

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Now dude, these have gotta be some of the best fries I’ve had in a while. Super-thick and crunchy, nicely seasoned, with a solid terragon aioli—and they definitely don’t short-change ya! I’m not sure I really needed to eat all these French-fried potaters…but I definitely don’t regret it, either!

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But you know I still had room for dessert…and their gourmandises are totally Instagram-worthy. They call this one the boule de neige, and it’s like a creamy snowball right in the kisser in Flavourtown. You’ve got a light, fluffy meringue swimming in English cream, and then some craisins and a gooseberry on top. I almost felt bad about eating this little guy’s face off…but it was totally worth every bite, bro!!!!

HELLO CLEVELAND: Bacon + falafel = peace in the Middle East

So we’re hanging out at Tommy’s Restaurant, this legendary family joint in Coventry Village. This place has one of the biggest menus you’ll find anywhere, serving up sammies, burgers and savoury pies with a side of award-winning fries.

Now, it’s kinda hard to make a decision when the menu is the size of a newspaper, but I had to go with something so funky you won’t find it anywhere else. They call this sandwich Colleen–and she can call me anytime!

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OK, let’s break it down. You’ve got falafel, bacon, cheese, onions, sprouts, tomatoes and green peppers stuffed inside a grilled pita. Now, I’ve had a few falafels in my day, but never before with bacon, bro! This dish is Captain Crunchalicious, and it actually feels like I’m eating healthy, too…

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And then you’ve got the prize-winning fries, named the best spuds in Northeast Ohio, son! The trick here is that they don’t season ’em at all, so they come out chip-shop crispy with all kinds of potatoey goodness. And yes, that full plate is all in one order! I could probably only eat 2 or 3 orders of these…

FRONT STREET FOODS: Chowdah fries are wicked awesome!

Now, you know I loves me some poutine, so when I saw this funky New England take on a Canadian classic, I had to shove it down my piehole. Man, this dish is TheBomb.ca, dude!

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OK, let’s break it down. You’ve got a nice, rich, creamy chowder with little chunks of clam and potato—that’s right, it’s potato on potato—P squared, son! And the fries are super-crispy, straight from the fryer… But what makes it is the bacon bits on top. They give it just a little extra crunch that really takes everything to the next level.

I dunno bro, but I honestly think these fries belong in my Poutine Hall of Fame. Werd to ya mutha!

So, I tried French’s ketchup for the first time…

In case you live up in Iqualuit or something, French’s has unofficially become the official ketchup of Canada in the past couple weeks, even though they actually make it in the States (for now, anyways). But hey, the tomatoes are homegrown, and that’s good enough for the guy who got the internet to like it on Facebook. Nowadays, not only can you find French’s at Maple Leaf Loblaws, but they’ve even got it on the boards at the Leafs game!

They still don’t sell it at Longo’s, though, so I had to go to Metro to get my hands on this ruby nectar of gods…

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Now, since I still had literally a pound of leftover French fries from that time I ate a 67 oz steak, I figured I would spice ‘em up with some Leamington Love. Because hey, three-day-old soggy fries are pretty nasty, anyways. I also chucked a chicken breast on top:

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And y’know what, this French’s is pretty sweet. I mean, it’s got a little more of a tangy taste than that competitor of theirs, along with a bit of a kick. If Heinz is the baseline when it comes to ketchup, then it’s safe to say that French’s is off the charts!

I survived… the legendary Rochester garbage plate!

(Originally written June 11, 2014)

Rochester, New York might only be 75 miles from Buffalo, but if you think it’s a wing town, think again.  Sure, they serve chicken wings, like every other place on the planet, but their local culinary special is much closer to a French-Canadian classic.  In fact, it’s kinda like poutine on steroids…if steroids make you fatter.

The garbage plate was invented by local eatery Nick Tahou Hots, which owns both the trademark and the domain name.  The basic idea is to take french fries and/or macaroni salad, throw a buncha meat on top, then top with chili and cheese sauce.  I guess they called it the garbage plate cuz “heart attack on a plate” was already taken.  Mind you, while Nick’s mighta been the originators of this culinary creation (waaaay back in 1918!), most local diners, drive-ins and/or dives offer some variation of the plate–whether they call it a sloppy plate, a junkyard dog plate, or, in the case of the Marshall Street Bar & Grill, a volcano plate:

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If you’re wondering how this plate (which, technically, is more of a serving bowl) got its name, you obviously haven’t tasted it yet.  The chili offers up a pretty decent kick, and I suspect there might also be some spice in the cheese sauce.  I had mine topped with a cheeseburger and some pulled pork overtop the home fries (often used instead of regular fries) and the mac salad, which you can’t even see in this picture.  The burger was nothing special, just a thin, charbroiled patty, but the pork had a nice tang to it.  Hiding the macaroni near the bottom makes sense, since you’ll need it to cool your palate after all the heat…if you’re not knocking back a whole buncha $2.50 pints of American light beer, that is.  Of course, the fries on the bottom got pretty soggy from the nuclear cheese assault, and weren’t quite as good as the crisp ones up top.  But hey, I guess that’s what happens when you live in a volcano cheese-ruption zone!  Shut the front door and buy a ticket!

On that note, I found it funny–but also awesome–that this bar was showing Triple-D on the big screen when I walked in.  Guy hasn’t actually been to Rochester yet, has he?  Apparently not…