“It’s a meal.”
“It’s a work of art.”
I had never heard so much gushing over a sandwich.
A sandwich. Its very creation began as a flirtation between meat and bread in the same meal until it was finally used as an edible plate.
The Earl of Sandwich liked to play cribbage without getting his cards greasy
from the meat he was eating, so he held the meat between two pieces of bread.
Yet, today, this humble meal of convenience has been placed on a pedestal by the customers of The Bent Spoon Café.
With a street-level entrance in the Hougen Centre – and a back door with Board Stiff for its shoppers and his own customers when it is -20 degrees Celsius or colder – it is a coffee/sandwich shop that is built for speed.
With so much advance publicity before my Lovely Dinner Companion and I arrived — and the fact that Jason Seguin has the nerve to charge $7 and $10 for small and large sandwiches – I felt he had a lot to prove.
Seguin wasn’t worried. He said he met with resistance when he first opened, but people began to realize there is real value in an expertly made sandwich.
And, the fact that it is so big, it really is a meal all by itself.
But there has to be more to it than that.
Seguin just smiles.
“I start with the best ingredients and go from there.
“It’s not just a big wad of meat — but I’d do that for a Corned Beef Sandwich and such — but with these others it is the flavours.
“And I like to layer things in just the right way. It is important to have layers of cheese between the meat to make the meat taste better.
“Pepper goes on top of the meat so that you get that crunch.”
Then there are the spreads. In particular there is a vegetable spread called Ajvar. Seguin says he has been using it for a while now and has recently seen other stores carry it.
Seguin would be the last person to relegate the bread to that of “edible plates”. He says he looked for the best bread in Whitehorse and found it a few blocks from downtown at Alpine Bakery.
“It’s top-notch … and organic, too,” he says.
The meat gets cut a half-hour before the noon rush for the special orders and for pre-made sandwiches for the cooler.
There are only five types of sandwiches – other than daily specials – and these can all be adapted.
Seguin says these five mainstays – from the meaty #1 to the vegetarian #5 – seem to have something for everyone.
So, I order the #1 (being a Yukon guy) with Mortadella, Genoa Salami — “Not as smoky, but more garlicky” — and Capicollo meats. It comes with a mild Provolone cheese, to encourage more taste from the meats, and sweet peppers, lettuce, Dijon mustard and mayonnaise.
My LDC ordered a #5 (to help us experience both extremes) which had sweet peppers, tomato, avocado and cheese on a cheese and herb ciabatta bread.
She was worried that it wouldn’t be enough to fill her up for a long afternoon at work, but had to admit, later, that it was very filling.
“I can’t get my mouth around it,” she said. “And it’s fresh and amazing.”
I could get my mouth around it … but only because I chose a ciabatta bread and I was able to squish it down some.
And, yes, my sandwich was amazing, too. The various flavours complemented each other so well, I was enjoying every bite.
We had chosen a table by the window so that we could watch passersby on Main Street. It had a cosmopolitan feel to it.
The Bent Spoon’s manager and head barista, Rae Sparkes, reminded me that this is a café, when she brought over her “signature drink”. It was a café au lait that had an intricate foam flower on top.
She was so happy when I told her how fantastic it was. (I love a barista who takes so much pride in her work.)
Is this a café or a sandwich shop? I asked Seguin.
“Both, but it is also a gourmet grocery store.”
Yes, I remembered having a pasta dish once that was just heavenly. The cook said she bought the cheeses and meats at The Bent Spoon.
Seguin told me he will be expanding the lineup considerably for Christmas shopping since it is all great for gift baskets and for entertaining.
He will bring in more gourmet cheeses and meats, as well, but he says these are usually gone within four days. So he strongly advises customers to place special orders … which avails them of an even wider selection.
The Bent Spoon Café opens at 8:30 a.m. Mondays to Fridays and at 9:30 a.m. on Saturdays. In December, it opens on Sundays, too. It is the mornings when they sell coffees and muffins, cookies, fruit and juices.
Sandwiches are ready by 11:30 — “Maybe even 11,” says Seguin – and he stops making sandwiches at 2 — “Or 2:30 or 3,” he says with a shrug – and at 4:30 p.m., the leftover sandwiches go to half price. The shop closes at 6 p.m.?
This review is not meant to judge the quality of the food or service. It only describes the experience offered by the reviewed restaurant. The owners were informed in advance of the review and the meals were provided at no cost.