Tavolino - King and Portland
I visited a couple times when they first opened and chose to not comment here on the porchetta and steak sandwiches until they had some time to work things out.
I am so glad I went back today. I planned to try the meatball but today's rock shrimp po'boy won out. It was the lunch special for 10 bucks which included bev and tax!
The shrimp are fantastic - nice crunchy breading and cooked perfectly. The kaiser-style bun is so light and airy, it simply holds the ingredients together so you don't end up with bread mouth. Tasty arugula, lemon aioli and tomatoes compliment the shrimp to make this a superb sandwich that would absolutely hold its own in New Orleans! The portion size is excellent given the price and quality. I would eat this 16 times over the County General Yawn-Fried Chicken Sandwich!
Maybe its just my hangover-induced hunger from my pre-pre-NYE party that has me so enthralled with today's sandwich but I really think Toronto is asleep on this place! And while we're on that topic Alimento is another amazing spot to hit that nobody seems to care about....
had a few items, i'm not totally sold on the experience just because it is a little pricier than i like. if they even dropped it a $1 i'd still be on the edge. honestly, if they just amped it up flavour wise i probably wouldn't have much of an issue.
shrimp po' boy - mine sat a little so i won't comment on crispness of the batter, but in their attempt to put an italian spin on things i really missed remoulade over aioli.. or at least something with more flavour. it was the best item of the bunch, the cooking of the shrimp was spot on.
porchetta - they don't do pork belly covering and i'm not sure if it was just the shavings we got, but there wasn't a whole lot of fat. the thinness was a benefit for the drier interior meat but the exterior had a nearly burnt herb/spice taste to it and i got a lot of these pieces. heavy slathering of mustard and a giant pile of pickled fennel (low on the pickle, low on the fennel anise oomph) so it was a bit of a vinegar bomb. they said it was to balance out the fatty pork... well maybe if i had more of that fatty pork...
ribeye - this could have been a major contender. dial back the garlic in the pesto, throw on a little more cheese, and maybe instead of jalapeno pick a fruitier chili? smelled amazing, fantastic portion of delicious and well prepared ribeye (though i could go for more rare than barely pink), juices pouring out and enough to dent into the bun (they claim they don't pull bread out of the bun for this sandwich... but man it really looked like it did). this was a flavour intensity that just needed some refining.
buns are portuguese, the trend these days... getting them in from caldense and specially ordered to be a bit airier than normal. i think it's a good match though i'm less for airy and more for chewy. i really think they could make a serious go, but they just need more refining.
Thanks for the follow up review! For the Shrimp, I think it is important to eat it freshly made and you will find it to be crispy. I actually enjoyed the lemon flavour that came through from the aioli and thought it was as bold as I would want it. I hope they didn't mess with it!!!!!
My porchetta experience was almost identical to yours but because they were newly opened at the time I didn't get into it on here. It is too bad the same issues prevail but maybe CH feedback with reach them. I had a big blob of spicy mustard in the centre of my sandwich which was like the heavy slathering you describe. I found the sandwich making lacked the love that is expected at this level. You know, spread the mustard across the whole bun. Use an appropriate and consistent amount from sandwich to sandwich. Don't overload on the toppings unless it is actually intended to be served that way!
The ribeye for us was a very small serving so it sounds like they beefed that up nicely! I thought the flavours and juiciness was spot on though. Perhaps they are still testing flavours, or simply inconsistent depending on who is making the spices/sauces.
From what I've experienced, these guys are on the right track. At the end of the day they need to be true to the flavours and combos they wish to sell so they can find their audience. They need to put some love into every single sandwich made!
One more menu item to not bother with is their dry, tasteless meatball sandwich with a clump of cheese. There is a reason this place is not gaining traction. Too many landmines. The shrimp poboy is fantastic and worth the trip IMO.
The chicken really is very good and the rib eye is good but ultimately who cares when there is so little else going on.
IMO the place has an indentity crisis along with a dull vibe.