This year, from June 1 to June 15, Amnesty International organized the “Taste for Justice” fundraiser to support its work to stop violence against women. Many participants hosted Taste for Justice events or “dined in“, by registering online, planing an event, ordering a “Host Kit”, inviting guests, distributing donation forms, and directing all proceeds to Amnesty International. Others “dined out” at number of participating restaurants in several Canadian cities.
In Ottawa, 20 restaurants participated as “Taste for Justice Friends.” One, Infusion Bistro (825 Bank Street), a “Partner for Freedom.” Taste for Justice Friends donate a portion of proceeds from June 1-15. Partners for Freedom restaurants donate a minimum of $750 and actively promote Amnesty campaigns year-round. Chef Matthew Carmichael’s e18hteen (18 York Street) donated a percentage of sales from its seasonal strawberry shortcake.
In the Wellington West neighbourhood, we had three participating restaurants: Agave Grill (1331 Wellington Street), Caffé Mio (1379 Wellington Street), and Thyme & Again Catering (1255 Wellington Street).
While I’m told that Agave Grill makes a stunning mojito and is owned by the former owner of Feleena’s Mexican Restaurant (Comida Mexicana) in the Glebe (corner of Bank (742) and Third), Jenn and I decided to support Amnesty International by finally giving Thyme & Again a try. After all, we’ve passed by the caterer/eatery hundreds of times during our 5 years, living in Wellington West.
Thyme & Again
According to its website, Thyme & Again caters events of various sizes, from dinner parties to weddings, and operates a popular brick and mortar retail space, called its “food shop.” They also supply the dishes served at the nearby Great Canadian Theater Company’s (GCTC) in-house restaurant, mostly food that the establishment can heat up or serve cold.
Regarding their food shop, it is stocked with frozen dinner ideas from game-meat stuffed pasta, vegetable stir fries, soups, desserts, breakfast scones, and even tourtiere. Their “eat-in” options include various pastries (both miniature and full-size tarts), cookies, chocolates (mostly in-house made truffles), soups, pot pies, and sandwiches. They also serve entrees that change from month to month. Everything is listed on their website.
Me, I love sandwiches, so we went to Thyme & Again for a light dinner after work. Unfortunately, we were served sandwiches that were wrapped in plastic and chilled for several hours. We surmise this is because the majority of the store’s “sandwich” business comes from its lunch service. Because workers from surrounding office buildings, including from the large government campus called Tunney’s Pasture, pile into the establishment during lunch time, sandwiches may be made en-mass in the morning. Such leaves whatever remainder after the lunch rush for the afternoon and evening.
Originally, I wanted a calabrese sandwich: capicolla ham, soprasetta, orovolone cheese, red onion, and spicy eggplant finished with a lemon herb mayonnaise. They were all out. Instead, I had the “Green Thai Curry Roast Beef with Lemon Grass Aioli and Smoked Gouda.” Jenn, the dilled Egg Salad: egg salad with fresh dill and chives.
My roast beef sandwich was less than impressive. The roast beef tasted bland and had a refrigerated texture. The seeded kaiser had succumbed to the cold, hardening and tasting somewhat stale. The smoked gouda added some sharpness. The featured “green curry and lemon grass” flavours came from the aioli, which was unevenly spread throughout the sandwich. As such, some bites carried faint flavours. Others, much more.
Jenn was equally unimpressed with hers. Her egg salad had only fleeting dill flavours, which is normally a powerful herb. She tasted no chives. Her kaiser was equally hard and stale. In fact, she had difficulty eating her sandwich as the egg salad kept spurting out the opposite end. She also found it somewhat too salty for her linking.
At $11.87 after taxes, but before tip, I was glad a portion was going to charity. Else, this would have been a rather expensive “cafeteria”-style sandwich.
Here is Thyme & Again’s card:
In fact, I was so non-plussed that the next day, I moved up my visit to a Portuguese bakery and sandwich shop near my workplace, so I could remind myself what a made to order sandwich tastes like.
Located in Gatineau (89 rue Eddy), Boulangerie Estoril is family owned and run. It supplies ethnic Portugese products along with more French-style freshly baked bread. Its signage is tattered and well worn. There are domestic chest freezers in the middle of the retail space. Its eating area only has a handful of tables. However, it serves deli-sliced made-to-order sandwiches, something I readily appreciated after my experience with Thyme and Again. It’s owners, an older couple that speak mostly Portuguese and French, are also warm and friendly.
And yes, Estoril is located nearby two large government complexes Place du Portage and Terrasses de la Chaudière, furthering the comparison with Thyme & Again.
For a measly $3.95 (before tip or taxes), I was able to pickup their “Portuguese Special”: deli-sliced Portuguese sausage (whose Paprika flavours have me thinking it was Linguiça); Portuguese cheese; all, on a freshly baked roll with mayonnaise and yellow mustard.
It was delicious, every flavour playing well with one another: savory, spice, sharp, and bright. Best of all, the textures met my expectations for an ethnic sandwich shop: fresh bread, slicer thin meat, and a generous amount of cheese. None, cold!
For dessert ($1 more), I picked up a Portuguese egg tart, which differs greatly from the Chinese variety that is served at dim sum.
Served chilled, the egg tart’s custard was dense and sweet, tasting of vanilla and slight hints of caramel. Its pastry was light and flaky.
If you work in walking distance of Estoril, I urge you to drop by.
It seems the only redeeming quality of our visit to Thyme & Again is our discovering a cache of Pascale’s ice cream.
Thyme & Again sells Pascale’s ice cream a dollar more ($10.95) than she does at the Piggy Market. This is good information for those evenings when we have surprise guests and we need to make an ice cream run.
Nevertheless, with its reputation, I promise to try Thyme & Again again, perhaps when I find them supporting another charity campaign.
Thyme & Again Creative Catering and Take Home Food Shop
1255 Wellington Street
89 rue Eddy
Tags: cheap eats, Estoril, Gatineau, Pascale's Ice Cream, sandwiches, Thyme and Again, Wellington Village