Matt Gregoris leans casually on the stainless steel counter at Brock Sandwich, the Bloordale sandwich emporium he established with longtime friends and co-workers Dominick Amaral and Peter Ornelas. He greets nearly every customer that walks in by name. Periodically, Matt glances up and waves at passers-by through the bright front window. Congeniality abounds in the small shop – there’s merit to developing an affable relationship with one of the city’s best sandwich slingers.
The lads behind Brock Sandwich left the world of fine dining just under a year ago in search of a more plebeian, but personally gratifying pursuit. Amaral, who heads up the kitchen, is a 9-year veteran of Susur and most recently spent three years as the sous chef at Zucca.
While fine tableware has been swapped out for aluminum trays, technical reverence and a focus on fantastically delicious food has not eluded the bunch. A 48-hour process of brining and buttermilk bathing whole chicken legs makes for the exceptional juiciness that’s enveloped within the crackling shell of their signature crispy chicken. Loaded on top of soft white buns from Silverstein’s Bakery and layered with the Amaral family’s age-old Portuguese piri piri sauce, charred onions and a fresh piece of lettuce, this may be the finest fried chicken sandwich I’ve ever eaten. Period.
The crew visits the Ontario Food Terminal twice a week, sourcing fresh, seasonal produce for their constantly evolving menu. New in the lineup this week was a seafood po’boy (paprika dusted squid and shrimp, spicy slaw, zesty tomatillo sauce and fresh coriander) – a rich man’s bite.
Fries come along with a tangy malt vinegar aioli, and make for an ideal accompaniment to the succulent cheek and cheese. Braised beef cheek, sweet onion jam, roasted red peppers, gooey provolone, shaved horseradish and savoury cheek gravy make for a mouthwatering mélange.
It may seem like I’m gloating on their behalf, but all I could do to keep from singing their praises from the table was to keep my mouth full with more of their meaty creations. Vegetarians will always have the option of chowing down alongside their carnivorous friends, however, with their grilled vegetable sandwich or the refined blood orange and beet salad. Another mainstay is the herb and garlic roasted porchetta with sautéed rapini, roasted red peppers and provolone cheese.
Expansion is constantly on the mind of Gregoris, though for now he and the boys are enjoying an increase of time spent with their loved ones. They still work 12-hour days, but at least they’re off the clock early due to the 9pm shutter time (7pm on Sundays). The restaurant industry isn’t always kind to proprietors or their employees, but these ones are as genuine as they come – a personality trait that’s mirrored in the taste of what’s on one’s plate. If they don’t make you smile when you walk in the door, you’ll certainly be beaming by the time you leave.
Have you checked out Brock Sandwich yet? Let us know how you enjoyed it in the comments below or tweet us @ViewTheVibe.