Windsor, meet the best: On Bread Meats Bread

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Windsor is rotten at, not to, the core. Anyone there doesn’t have to look far to see an empty building, an alley full of garbage, or an empty sidewalk. And anyone reading about it can learn about how urban sprawl is slowly twisting the knife in Windsor’s gut, draining its centre of institutions that define the city.

Bread Meats Bread, a minimalist chic gourmet sandwich shop on 33 Chatham St. E., is the kind of place downtown doesn’t deserve but has been lucky to have for the last few months. With a handful more of these types of place, I would be inclined to think of the core as, food-wise, something other than a hub for shawarma.

The space is small but very thoughtful in its aesthetic. It favours thick wood and dark metal as its materials for design, tactfully employing succulents in small jars to offset the industrial motifs. The small kitchen and sandwich bar that dominates the vast majority of the space overshadow the handful of tables.

Owners Dave and Sylvie sought to achieve the same thing with the menu that they did with the space itself: simplicity. The menu is less than half the size of everyone’s favourite sandwich shop, The Carvery, but, for my money, there’s no comparing with the amount of prep and quality that is built into these sandwiches. The menu has but four sandwiches at a time – the menu does change – and it’s main attraction is the porchetta.

Porchetta is a traditional Italian pork preparation that involves the whole body of a pig gutted and boned, and tightly wrapped around various herbs and spices before being roasted, usually on a spit. The whole roast is visible on the counter when you walk into Bread, and it’s finely sliced to order. There aren’t many frills to this sandwich, just juicy pork, crispy pigskin to contrast textures, and a light gremolata for accent.

I read in Toronto Life the other day that the trend of 2017 has been “real food,” which I assume is supposed to be in contrast to, say, rainbow bagels and sushi burritos, (I haven’t and I won’t do it).

There’s an equally small but interesting list of side options that can compliment or supplement your sandwich. Gnocchi is simple of course, (though don’t tell that to anyone that has spent four hours making it), but it’s comforting. The gnocchi here is made by hand and it shows. It’s a decadent pillow.

Both versions of the side salad have been great and refreshing, as have the soups of the day. I prefer the latest, the broccoli soup, over the chowder, personally.

Why I like Bread Meats Bread more than any other sandwich place is, like all else here, simple.  Beyond the small menu, sexy space, and cooler music, the place lends itself much more to hanging out. And I hate to say it, but it’s booze-related. There’s something socially and chemically satisfying about having draught beer before and then again with a sandwich. Or a glass of wine if that’s your thing. It’s been my favourite place to crawl into around noon for recovery on Saturdays after a Friday littered with transgressions.

Chatham Street has in a way been a poster-child of the core, in all the worst ways. Chatham West in particular is a ghost town. I remember Pour House and Beer Market very fondly, and, dare I say it, even Koko Pellie’s was a romp after barhopping for several hours. None of those now exist and nothing has taken their place, save for a shadow from the aquatics centre and blueprints for lots of parking.

This place, though, has for me been a lifeline. If you’re like me and work a normal workday out of the downtown core, you’ve never been to Chatham Street Deli because their hours don’t allow for it. But if you’re like me, you wouldn’t want to go anywhere other than Bread Meats Bread anyway.

Stay tuned in the next month or so for Burger Farm, their coming burger spot downtown, located on Chatham Street as well, just a few doors down.

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