Cafe The Belleuve - new Kensington Market spot
My new lunch fav: Cafe The Bellevue, that has just recently opened in the Kensigton Market (61A Bellevue Avenue). Very cool place, with old polaroid cameras and books all around, piano outside (you can open it and play if you feel like it) and Elliott Smith singing quietly in the background. They serve what looks like a usual lunch fare - soups, sandwiches and salads, but everything they do has personality. The weirdest thing on the menu is a sardines/ peanut butter/ cheddar/ bean sprouts sandwich on Rye. Of course I had to try it out and I have to say, and this won't be an exaggeration, this is the Best Sandwich I ever had in my life!
I saw this post, and I pretty much ran out for that sandwich! While I wouldn't call it the best sandwich of my life (damn you Hoof Cafe, ruined all future sandwiches), I certainly enjoyed it and the drinks.
As a chocolate addict, I was intrigued by the chocolate-banana-jalapeño juice. Also ordered were the honeydew-avocado-banana and a lemonade made with crushed mint leaves and sugar cane. ($4)
I liked them all - the lemonade was the most refreshing for the hot day, but I enjoyed the banana-chocolate- jalpeno flavour the most. With a consistency that's more shake-y than juice-y (makes sense given the ingredients), I enjoyed a jalapeño "bite" after each chocolately slurp. I wish they used a darker chocolate instead though - I think that the stronger cacao taste would go really well with the jalapeño.
The honeydew-avocado-banana was light, sweet and also on the thicker side. Next time, I think I will ask for some ice cubes in my drink even though it will dilute it a bit more just to keep it cold.
The Squirrel ($10)
Peanut butter, sardines, hot chili sauce, cucumber, sprouts and white cheddar on dark rye
How could I not order this? The combination of salty, buttery, cheesy, and spicy was pretty darn good. I just wish there was more! At $10 though, it's not bad considering the big bowl of soup that came with it.
I'd love to try this with a few slices of tomato and avocado. My friend disagrees saying that it's just make it too soggy but I think it'd be great. I think I will request that addition next time, if possible. I like tomatoes on everything though...
The Beach ($10)
Chick pea salad, roasted coconut, yakinori, sesame, sprouts, and cheddar on dark rye
Not bad, a decent healthy sandwich. The chickpeas were chickpeas, the sprouts were sprouts - I got exactly what I ordered. While tasty, I won't be craving it anytime soon and I'd sooner try something else off of their menu.
The Fish Fry ($14)
Golden fried Ontario Rainbow Trout, with a dandelion & avocado mixed green salad, white vinaigrette.
The Rainbow Trout was well done, although I wish there was more to the salad. I wonder how much it would have cost to upgrade to the Greens with Envy salad? Purple kale, dandelion, cucumber, green onion, sprouts, and broccoli sounds pretty darn good.
The following two items come with sandwiches, or you can order them separately.
Soupe de Soleil ($4)
The butternut squash and was thick, filling, and satisfying. I actually like my squash soups a bit chunky so I was quite happy with this homey bowl. There was also a bit of tomato & scallions and possibly carrot, if I recall correctly. Yum.
Black Beans ($6)
The black bean dip with avocado was also tasty with the red tortilla chips. Dense and chunky, the bowl was spooned clean. I wished there were a few more large chips in the pile, but no biggie - I just scooped some dip with my spoon with the little chip bits. In hindsight, I think I would've liked this in the sandwich too!
Ooh...pie. With Wanda's Pie in the Sky down the street I was surprised to see "Julies' Pie" for dessert. I racked my poor memory for a bakery named Julie's and drawing a blank, I asked where/who Julie('s) is. It turns out that one of the owner's (Ryan) cousin's wife bakes yummy desserts for their cafe. Talk about family love :) It was a sweltering hot day, but he convinced me that the pie was "reaaaalllly good" with a knowing "omg" look on his face. Not that my sweet tooth ever needs much convincing anyways.
And "reaaaallly good" it was! Totally catering to my not-so-secret love affair with Ontario peaches, the filling was just the right amount of sweet and the crust (which I think is just as important!) was nice and soft. While my friend said he would've preferred more of a "bite" for both the peaches and the crust, I was quite satisfied as I liked the super-soft pieces of fruit. Mmmm. It wasn't syrupy or overloaded with sugar. This pie-lover was satisfied.
The service from co-owner Chris was very friendly and conversational. I heard they were going to offer fish tacos at yesterday's Pedestrian Sundays however a combination of a precarious weather forecast and something about the cousin who was going to cook 'em up made it a no-go. I must have looked crest-fallen as I got a consoling tap on the shoulder from Ryan (is it creepy that I'm using their first names as if I know them?) and a promise of their appearance on August 29th's Pedestrian Sunday. Sadly I will be out of town, but as a fanatic of Little Italy's Fish Store, at least I know where to get my fish-fix. Pout.
Overall, I had a good time at The Bellevue. While there were some things that I would like to tweak, everything tasted good and homey. The items are things that I could easily make at home, but the creative combinations certainly stirred my imagination. It won't be long before I start making my own Sardine-Nut Butter-Rye sandwiches...which may or may not be pleasant for The Bellevue to hear!
I enjoyed the fun little patio, drinks, and The Bellevue sits in a surprisingly decent people-watching spot (I wasn't expecting that as it is not on Augusta). While very small, I don't think that the patio will be expanding anytime soon as the food was quite slow-to-show. My chattyness probably didn't help. Despite a lengthy wait time of around 25 minutes, the relatively healthy & tasty sandwiches, great pie, and pleasant service will prompt me to return! For pie at least...
The Fish Store
657 College St, Toronto, ON M6G1B7, CA
The Bellevue Café
61 Bellevue Ave, Toronto, ON M5T, CA