Complaining about the TTC is a widely-followed past time in Toronto but one of the system’s under-recognised advantages is that one fare will take you pretty much anywhere in our city. This got me thinking and led to the development of this new series for Spotlight, in which I’ll visit restaurants and other food vendors that are inside or very close to a subway station, all attainable with my trusty TTC Metropass.
I struggled with how to define “very close”. Not many places are right inside the station, so we’d have to give some leeway for short walking distance. Which raised the issue of the dozens of restaurants that are clustered around the eleven stations south of Bloor. In my view, these downtown spots are covered enough as it is and really are best walked to anyway.
So, our journey will be into that hinterland north of Bloor or to the east of Yonge or west of University. We’ll hit some old favourites and new spots that I hope you’ll find interesting and delicious.
For the first instalment we’ll start off easy with an old favourite, the Black Camel, which has been serving sandwiches on the north side of Crescent Road across from Rosedale station for more than five years.
Especially in the summer, lunchtime sees crowds out the door but the cash register operator has a no-look, faster-than-the-human-eye touch that keeps things moving. Also, the menu’s allowance of two sauces or condiments per sandwich give us something to contemplate. Will it be chipotle or charamoula mayo? Creamy horseradish or hummous?
And on the sandwiches (all $7) choice ranges to pulled chicken, steak, and roasted veg but really if this is your first time stick to either the brisket or pulled pork, both slow roasted. These two are both delicious home runs and have made countless top-whatever lists over the last five years.
The sauteed mushrooms and arugula are my favourite extra toppings ($0.90), but there are others to choose from, and the staff are more than happy to provide recommendations. The rest of the menu is tightly focused on extras like coleslaw ($2.20 for 6 oz) and a very good chili ($3.25 for a 6 oz, $5.25 for a 12 oz).
On their Twitter feed they do an excellent job of giving updates on hours and impending bun shortages–relevant information because without a bun you either have no sandwich or very messy hands.
Seating is somewhat limited on all but the coldest days of winter– Ramsden Park across Yonge makes a more than pleasant setting for lunch.
The Camel is unequivocally one of the best places to take yourself, your Metropass, and a ten-dollar bill and come away entirely satisfied. A bit of an obvious choice, I guess, but stay tuned for some more off-beat choices in the coming weeks.
4 Crescent Road, Toronto
Across from Rosedale station
Written by David Ort
As one of Spotlight’s contributing editors, David enjoys turning his mind (and keyboard) to a wide variety of topics ranging from recipes to restaurants to craft beer. When he’s not writing for Spotlight Toronto, David shares his thoughts on new restaurants and beer at PostCity.com and all things food and drink on his own site, Food With Legs. He is the author of the soon-to-be-released Canadian Craft Beer Cookbook (Whitecap).