Foolish is the fool who says there ain’t much to a sandwich. Simple, sure: two slabs of bread and stuff in between. Yet we all know there’s so much specialness in that deceptive simplicity. It’s the finer touches: the baking of grains, the stacking and chopping, the layering and saucing, the crunch, the chew, the, linger and the settle. It’s a fine balancing act of textures and tastes, senses and sensibilities. Fortunate for us, we’ve got many a fine sammy shop here in the region of La Capitale. With so many delicious offerings to choose from (and to be frank, many, many delicious sammies were sampled in the compiling of this list) – the process to settle on the killers was tough. Value and uniqueness were both considered, as was freshness and overall taste. Perhaps carrying the most weight, however, were two core factors. First was the element of very-difficult-to-recreate-at-home. Can I buy nice bread and make this sammy myself? If so, it might not make the list despite its deliciousness. Second, the go-out-of-the-way factor. Would I alter the trajectory of my day to make a date with this sammy? If so, it has the beckoning factor, that mysterious force that finds you suddenly halfway across town with a sammy in your hand and smile on your mug. Somehow that ‘should do’ just got buried in your chew. Fighting off the urges to wander from the keypad and into sandwichlandia, we distractedly bring you: 8 Killer Sandwich Spots in the Capital Region.
Although definitely on the pricier end of the spectrum, that pulled-pork number in the photo (see above) was an undeniable flavour treat. It was probably one of the most unique pulled pork sammys I’ve ever had – low on the vinegar, low on the sweet, dial cranked on the spicy and tangy. The bread was crunchy on the outside and impeccably soft on the inside – soft and fluffy enough to absorb all that righteous bbq sauciness. This is not the sandwich you’d call upon to fend off an angry hunger wave and yet it’s more than worth its weight in premium smoked pig as an afternoon snack. With an offering of sandwiches that change all the time, this little piggy ran all the way to Westboro.
Relish Food Truck // @relishtruck // Central – OttawaU Campus (Campus Station)
At Relish, The game changes on a daily basis. I was fortunate to encounter this beef brisket sammy adorned with a perfectly-cooked over-medium egg and smothered in a delicious chive(?) and sour cream sauce. The balance in this sandwich was incredible. Just so well put-together. Not to mention that the accompanying salad was not simply a very good side dish in its own right (which it was) but that the flavours of the salad rubbed shoulders with the sandwich in a highly-complimentary fashion. Thought goes into a serving this good, and the cooking skills are glaringly evident when it’s put together like it is: eschewing sloppiness (I’m thinking of you señor yolk) and embracing compactness. Hey students of OttawaU, looking for lunch?
Meat In The Middle // Central – 311 Bank St
With the straightest of faces, I can say that in my humble though highly-respected (Mother says) opinion, Meat in the middle serves up the best Montreal smoked meat sandwich in Hottawa. It’s hard to pull off a sandwich like this. Sans toasting of the Rye can easily lead to empty bread and a pile of smoked meat staring up from the plate. Meat In The Middle keeps in tight and truly lets the smoked meat be the star of the show (think West Block to the Big Daddy). Just a smear of simple mustard rounds off the sandwich in which the rye comes in for support like Scott Moir under Tessa Virtue. Since first trying Meat In The Middle, I’ve been back twice for more. Further chews have led me to state that the Cuban sandwich here is also delectable.
Edgar // @ChezEdgar // Gatineau – 60 Rue Bégin
If you haven’t yet been to Edgar for breakfast, your stomach has so much pent up rage against you it would make Yosemite Sam’s outbursts seem like a weekend at a Buddhist retreat. Not solely masters in the brunch, however, Chef Marysol Foucault and crew serve up deadly take-out such as tagines, mac ’n’ cheese, soups, butter chicken and more, including yes, sammys. I had a sandwich with chicken, tons of basil leaves, a big slice of peach and other things undiscernible. Nothing stuck out. Nothing. It all blended together into one rifle blast of ridiculously good flavour. The picture above features their vegetarian sandwich, and should aptly be captioned: French kiss of meatless bliss. Get over the bridge, Anglos.
My special friend used to live right by here, and it was only when she moved to a new location that Meat Press opened. Shame that they hadn’t opened earlier ‘cause I would’ve loved sampling the daily offerings served up here. The quality of the thin-sliced ham sandwich to the left was not only lights-out, it was totally unique. The bun was nothing to write home about, but the ham was insanely scrumptious and was layered with fried cheese curds! and a sweet & tart kind of apple coleslaw. It was a super creative sandwich and more importantly, skyrocketed up the lipsmack meter. Combined with an equally delicious soup (creamy tomato) and homemade pop for a very appealing 10 bucks, I can only say: well played, gang, very well played. I’ll definitely continue popping by this spot to see what new creations they’re sharing with the masses (should I say minions?)
La p’tite épicere // Hull (Gatineau) – 158 Rue Notre-Dame-de-l’île
This little corner store in Hull is boss. Monster Boss. Brando, Gandolfini, Aung San Suu Kyi levels. This shop has principles. Sammy principles that leave indelible taste marks. I’m sure that this choice will stir up some controversy, as there are quite a few sandwich shops that cut up deli meat and lay it into your choice of bread alongside lettuce, olives, tomatoes, spicy eggplant, mayo, mustard, etc. Here’s the truth: this shop is the best of’m. The choice is expansive: 18+ to choose from. And the bread? Magical. Concocted it seems by the hands of Adam from Kitchen Confidential. The bread here is soooo flavourful. That’s a 4-o, so. Friends told me anecdotes of pouncing on these sandwiches with ravenous glee. Having never had the pleasure, I once laughed dismissively. Now I taste truth.
Again, there are quite a few shops in O-town that make awesome meatball sandwiches, shops that I frequent with great pleasure. Frankie’s I visit a lot less often because of how far it is from where I live. I will say this, though: Frankie’s meatball sandwich is right up there with the best of them if not sliding its way into top spot. The major difference between Frankie’s and others lies in two characteristics. First, the bread here, like other shops, is thick and quite heavy -and it has to be to handle all that sauciness. That said, Frankie’s bread was gentler, easier to chew and ultimately had a lighter more comfortable settle than others. Second, both the meatballs here and the sauce had a perkier and had a more robust flavour than most other samplings. Sure, this is quite a subjective argument, and if you’ve found your jam, then by all means, you know where to dance and get the lovin’ you need. If, however, you are willing to change up the game, give Frankie’s an honest go. It was better than good; it was killer. Nonna would be proud.
The Sausage Kitchen in the Market was originally intended to be on this list. We are sorry to hear of its closure in November.