We got together on Thursday night for dinner before we went to the Art Gallery of Ontario for their brand new event, First Thursdays. A 19+ evening that includes cocktails, djs, art, artist talks, live music and nude models every first Thursday of the month.
We decided on a place that I have been really eager to check out and somewhat closeby: Porchetta and Co. A place that goes by the philosophy, “do one thing and do it really well”. Here, it’s porcetta. They season pork shoulder with rosemary, sage, lemon, garlic and olive oil, wrap it in prosciutto and pork belly, and let it sit so all the flavours meld together.
When we arrived there was already a line out the door (though that’s not saying much… the place is small and only has seating for about 6 people). While we were looking at the menu from afar, a man on his way out shook his head and scoffed, “Hipsters, hipsters, hipsters…”. Hmm… yes, we were definitely getting that vibe here; there were regulars who fit the description hanging around chatting with the staff.
The place is cash only so we ventured to our nearest bank (tip: there is an ATM in a convenience store two doors down)
We both got the house special: the Porchetta Sandwich, with pork belly crackling, mustard, Parmesan and hot sauce ($8.15). Sounds awesome. We grabbed a spot to sit and wait for our sandwiches. It only took a few minutes.
A word of caution, the mustard is DIJON mustard… blaarrgh I really wish they had specified this somewhere on the menu or anywhere in the restaurant. My stomach kind of sank when I bit into it. The difference between “regular” yellow mustard and Dijon mustard is huge for me.
I tried to look past this lapse and went through with the eating of the sandwich. I tried to be impartial to the rest of the sandwich notwithstanding the dijon. The porcetta really was delicious, fatty, crispy and flavourful. The Portuguese sourdough bun was soft, thick and fresh and held the sandwich together nicely.
On the two tables in the restaurant they have jars of more dijon (no thanks) and Tabasco, which I put liberally on my sandwich. This elevated it for me; although there was already hot sauce on the sandwich, it was barely distinguishable from the dijon.
It was a good sandwich overall, but perhaps slightly overrated. I definitely prefer the sandwiches at Banh Mi Boys not very far away at Queen and Spadina, which are bigger, cheaper and in my opinion, tastier. I dream about going back to Banh Mi Boys. Don’t have the same feelings for Porchetta & Co., although I really wanted to.
Sure, if I’m in the neighborhood, I’ll visit again and will make better choices regarding toppings. After all, there are enough to make your dream sandwich at a premium (extra toppings range from $0.25 to $2.95 for things such as mushrooms, rapini, mozzarella or parmesan, tomato sauce or extra meat) or just go for the no-toppings style sandwich ($6.45) and let the porcetta shine through.
I kind of felt like the guy who prefaced our dinner with his hipster comment was onto something. This place gets a lot of hype as the “cool new” sandwich place in a relative backwater of Toronto, and obviously has a strong fan-base. This gave me high expectations for the sandwich, and it ended up falling short for me. Yes, I liked it, the idea is great but I don’t really understand the idolization of the sandwich.
Sometimes a sandwich is just a sandwich.