Location:222 – 7 St. SW
We originally came at around 10:30am, the place was packed. We scoped the place for any available seats, but there were none, so we headed to Cafe Blanca. After an hour or so we headed back here and found a table pretty much immediately. With one person saving our spot, the other two headed down to order. My first impression of the place was that it was very similar to Corbeaux on 17th Ave (that has sadly since closed down). As Valerie and I stood in line, waiting to place our order, a line formed behind up, ending up with people pressed up against the door. Though we had already eaten, we decided to get ourselves some sandwiches and a tart, while Yulin ordered a flatbread.
The duck sandwich from Al Forno is pretty much exactly the same as the Duck Confit from Vendome, which makes sense since that’s what Vendome has become known for and is one of the best things they have on their menu. Unfortunately, unlike Vendome, Al Forno’s duck sandwich was drenched in enough oil to save Alberta’s economy from disaster. The porchetta sandwich I ordered was something that wasn’t something available at Vendome. It consisted of roast porchetta (of course), hazelnut gremolata, some kind of greens (I’m thinking arugula, but I’m not completely sure), and a lemon aioli. Despite this sandwich being very oily, it definitely was not as oily as the duck sandwich. The lemon aioli was a refreshing addition to the panini instead of the typical garlic or truffle aioli which can be quite heavy. The lemon is a good contrast to the richness of the porchetta. This was my first time having a gremolata, so I didn’t know what to expect, but really, I didn’t taste much of it and I’m still wondering what it’s supposed to taste like. My only other complaint was that there was a thick layer of fat that could have been removed from the porchetta. And I’m not sure if this is expecting too much of them, but the skin could have been crisped up like the Chinese do with their roast pork (which is pretty much the same). Yulin’s veggie flatbread wasn’t all that special. I liked that it was full-bodied in its flavour because so many healthy options just don’t get enough seasoning. I also like the combination of herbs used in the flatbread that helped to provide more complexity to the dish.
The chocolate ganache tart was the featured tart of the day. At first I was concerned that it would be too rich and from the moment I cut into it I knew there was something wrong. The ganache stuck terribly to my fork, which I expected, but the entire crust fell away and crumbled everywhere. It was admittedly a delicious crust containing oats and coconut flakes, but awfully inconvenient to eat. The ganache wasn’t as sweet and overwhelming as I expected, but it was about $5 for a slice (look below to see how small it was).
Though this cafe is brighter, more modern, quieter, more spacious, less noisy, and slightly cheaper than Vendome in some aspects, the amount of oil in the sandwiches is a bit off putting. However, I’d like to try out some of their other food (pizzas and pastas and small stuff) before I make a final decision about my return. For today’s visit I’d rate it 3.75/5.