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Restaurant Review: Sky Blue Sky Sandwiches

August 17, 2011

Hi folks!

If you live in Toronto, you may already know about Sky Blue Sky Sandwiches, a casual little second-floor sandwich shop located in the Mirvish Village / Koreatown area on Bloor West. The ostensible premise for the restaurant is a quirky one: Every sandwich on the menu is named after a song by contemporary altrock supergroup Wilco! Admittedly, some of the sandwich titlings work better than others: the ‘Secret of the Sea’ is a tuna salad nicoise, and ‘She’s a Jar’ is an almond butter sammy, but ‘Hell is Chrome’ is, inexplicably, a deviled-egg salad (not that I have any idea of what sort of food would better fit that song title). Nonetheless, I love the concept, especially seeing that I’ve been a Wilco fan for ages. It’s a lot of fun to be able to decide your lunch based on what song you like—and a big help to typically indecisive menu-orderers like me.

But quirkiness alone does not a good sandwich shop make. How, then, do Sky Blue Sky’s sandwiches stack up? First off, it should be noted that there are a lot of them. Indeed, one of the biggest draws to Sky Blue Sky in my opinion is the sheer variety and creativity of their menu. Even setting aside the fifteen meat-, fish-, or egg-based sammies, there are still eleven veg*n options, two of which are always vegan, and many more of which could easily be made so, by switching up the bread or leaving out the cheese. But even more importantly, the staff has always been friendly and knowledgeable when I’ve asked about what’s vegan and what’s not, which is very, very appreciated.

Secondly, Sky Blue Sky sandwiches are cheap. Nothing on the menu is more than $5, and I think this price tag has to be kept in mind, because, although the sandwiches are plenty good, I have to say that they’re not out-of-this-world good. Take, for example, the sandwich I got at my last visit: the ‘Via Chicago’, or “roasted onions and chickpeas with a hint of curry topped with mango chutney and a tomato on French bread”…

Sounds good, right? And it was. However, it definitely had a few flaws: For instance, the temperature of the sandwich was inconsistent, with the toasted bread and onions being warm and the chickpeas and tomato being cool. Also, the mango chutney flavor did not really come through at all for me. But then again, it was a $5 sandwich, and named after one of my favorite Wilco songs. So I really can’t complain.

I had a similar reaction to the sandwich I tried on my previous visit: the ‘Wishful Thinking’, Sky Blue Sky’s take on a portobello burger. Again, the sandwich was good, but it sorta feel flat for me in the end, and did not taste much better than something I could’ve put together at home. But for $5, it was a really good deal.

Sky Blue Sky has a few things beyond sandwiches on the menu, as well: a couple of soups if you’re looking for a starter, and a few sweet treats if you’re looking a little dessert. Again, the same generalization that applied to their sandwiches applies here: the soups and sweets are not incredible, but they are good and affordable, and the staff can helpfully tell you which are vegan and which are not.

Finally, the restaurant definitely scores points for its decor: its walls are appropriately covered with framed Wilco posters and concert banners, and the entire space feels very cozy, with a wide array of seating options (many in front of a second-story window overlooking Bloor) and a couple of bookcases filling out the space. And no, the stereo doesn’t play Wilco the whole time, in case you were wondering.

So that’s my take on Sky Blue Sky Sandwiches. While it may not offer the most extraordinary sandwiches, my overall experience there has always been very enjoyable, and when you’re on a $5 lunch budget, you could certainly do much, much worse (especially on Bloor West). And as Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy himself said upon his visit to the restaurant, “Lunch was really good, but, to be honest, I prefer their earlier, more experimental sandwiches.” Check out Sky Blue Sky for yourself!

Until we eat again,

Willie

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