Brock Sandwich, a new restaurant that opened earlier this week in Bloordale Village, doesn't leave much to the imagination. The idea is just as simple: a dine-in (if you can) and take-out sandwich joint that serves espresso drinks and a few simple sides dishes.
But just because Brock's concept is uncomplicated doesn't mean the food isn't top notch.
The place is owned in part by Dominic Amaral, former sous-chef at Zucca Trattoria. Brock's menu consists of a two breakfast sandwiches: strip bacon ($6.75) and peameal bacon ($7.50), which are both cured in-house. They serve four lunch sandwiches: Crispy buttermilk chicken ($9), seared albacore tuna ($13), pulled pork ($10), roasted vegetable ($10). They also serve fries ($3.50) and a mixed green salad ($7).
The shop has received a hospitable welcome at Bloor and Lansdowne neighborhood and seems to be a fortunate addition to the growing list of good restaurants opening there (think The Emerson and Whippoorwill).
The sandwich joint has an accepting attitude - catering toward everyone from university kids to construction workers. The staff possess a casual friendliness you'd expect to find in restaurant you'd already been going to for years - so that probably can't harm Brock's reception.
The crispy buttermilk chicken sandwich with Piri Piri sauce seems to be the menu item gaining the most hype. In case you're unfamiliar, the spicy sauce is a Portuguese favourite. To make this sandwich they brine the chicken for 24 hours in-house with herbs, spices, salt, sugar and water. Afterwards, it's soaked in buttermilk then doused in flour, cornstarch and onion powder. Finally, it's fried and smothered in the spicy sauce. This basically makes for the most simultaneously crispy and tender chicken you've could imagine.
Think of all the saucy delight of a pulled pork sandwich meets the texture of authentic southern fried chicken. Served on a soft bun, its complimented by the seared onions and the lettuce that gives it a bit of much-needed crunch. However, this is not for the faint of heart- or should I say mouth. While the unique, almost-sweet spiciness of the dish seems tame at first, by mid-sandwich I could easily say my mouth was on fire (in a good way).
I also tried the roasted vegetable sandwich. Served on sourdough, the sandwich is a great vegetarian option that holds up in heartiness to its meaty counterparts. The sandwich consists of with Fior di latte, marinated artichokes (that are also battered and fried), roasted red peppers, house-made olive pesto and arugula. The sourdough stood up well to the oiliness of pretty much all the ingredients (except the arugula, obviously). This was a dish I will definitely be returning for (and recommending to disheartened vegetarian friends who are tired of salads.)
Both sandwiches were made better by the addition of their casual counterpart: Yukon potato fries. Spiced with paprika, and heavy on salt (even for fries) these were hard-won improvement on a staple. They were perfectly crispy and the paprika added a good kick.
The place seems intent on remaining as authentic as possible, making pretty much all the ingredients in house, except their bread and few other things. The price point is low, which makes it a great spot for lunch.
The only thing it's missing, other than a liquor license and few extra square feet, is variety. Brock has plans to develop that in time (they have a soft-shell crab po-boy in the works).
In whole, I was pleasantly surprised by this unassuming little place, and its well worth the trip to Bloor and Lansdowne.
Writing and photos by Courtney Reilly-Larke