Murrays Sandwich Emporium
Murrays Sandwich Emporium, recently opened at Queen and Bathurst, joins the ranks of a handful of west-end eateries that open not only for lunch hours, but also cater to the area's late night crowd. Early in the week this small sandwich shop serves from lunchtime until 10pm, but Thursday to Saturday when the 2am post-bar munchies run rampant on this strip, these indulgent sandwiches can be had as late as 4am. At a more reasonable hour, my friend and I decide to stop in for a quick lunch to see what Murrays has to offer.
The restaurant's narrow space with exposed brick and wood floors consists of a counter at the back and three communal tables along one side. A steady stream of people grabbing takeout continues throughout our meal, but the small room is also much more welcoming for a sit-in meal than a lot of the area's surrounding fast food joints. As hip hop plays from speakers overhead, we examine the chalkboard menu, the kitschy sandwich names adding to the quirky theme the place seems to be going for.
The menu consists of eight different sandwiches - six savoury and two sweet - and a handful of sides like a daily soup, fries, onion rings and chili. None of the options are particularly healthy, but some, like the sweet ones, are unquestionably over the top. But I guess in the grand scheme of the city's burger and poutine obsession, this really isn't so bad. After much deliberation and suggestions from the cashier, we place our order and grab a spot at one of the tables to wait for our meal to begin, and let's just say I'm glad I came hungry.
Though we're tempted by items like The Dogfather (choice of breaded veal, chicken or eggplant with roasted peppers and tomato sauce) and Gimme The Keys Grilled Cheese (triple decker grilled cheese with the option of adding bacon), when the cashier mentions that The Uncle Phil ($9) is her absolute favourite, we decide this is a must try.
The very generously sized take on a cheesesteak sandwich consists of sliced rib eye, sauteed onions and green peppers, and gooey, melted provolone cheese piled on a fresh baguette. This classic combination of ingredients is comfort food to be sure, and though we find the meat to be a little on the dry side, it's still an enjoyable sandwich. Nine dollars may seem a bit steep, but in the restaurant's defense the serving is pretty gigantic.
The BL-Tizzy ($8 - top photo), the restaurant's version of a BLT, is by far the favourite of the meal. A giant, soft white bun holds strips of very crispy double smoked bacon, romaine lettuce, slices of fresh tomato, and a big scoop of lemony guacamole to top it all off. The guacamole is the perfect addition, and though some of the Uncle Phil goes unfinished, we devour the entire BLT in no time flat.
Intrigued by the sweet sandwiches on the menu - strawberry jam or nutella, rolled and fried - we opt for The Nutorious ($5). The sandwich consists of white bread smeared with nutella, rolled up and dropped in the deep fryer, and served with a little container of whipped peanut butter for dipping.
I know, more carnival food than appropriate lunchtime fare, but nonetheless, somewhat irresistible. Almost like a donut in consistency, by the time we sample this confection, after eating the already heavy savoury sandwiches, we begin to feel like we've pushed it too far. Regardless of bordering on extreme fullness, I have to admit that this greasy dessert tastes pretty good.
Murrays Sandwich Emporium may not offer what could be considered a light lunch, but the restaurant's short card of classically comforting sandwiches makes for a quick and satisfying meal. And with items that have definite late night snack appeal beyond the usual poutine or pizza, being open till the wee hours of the morning will most likely prove worthwhile.
Photos by Taralyn Marshall