“Too few people understand a really good sandwich.” – James Beard, Acclaimed chef and cookbook author
In March 2018, a fire broke out at Bloor and Landsdowne behind a row of shops near Emerson Ave. A number of establishments on the block were damaged, including Brock Sandwich. Serious water and smoke damage infiltrated the entire restaurant, and decimated the entire back half.
The legendary Bloordale sandwich shop, open for six years, was suddenly out of commission.
A GoFundMe campaign, launched in November, has reached $8,370 of the $30,000 goal at press time. Chef Dominic Amaral and partners chef Tyler Dawe and Greg Henderson Ponte weren’t content on waiting for the rest to roll in, so they rolled up their sleeves and got to work.
Amaral and Dawe come from fine dining backgrounds – both spent many years at Susur/Madeline's and Zucca Trattoria - so while the restaurant was being rebuilt, they returned to their old stomping ground Zucca.
New look, who ‘dis?
It took 13 months to get the restaurant back up and running, but it’s better than ever, boasting a slightly bigger layout, more seating, and fresh new look.
The kitchen was pushed in slightly, offering a wider hallway and room for the addition of a slim counter with seating. And a brick wall uncovered during the renos, adds a rustic exposed look to the interior.
The front dining area is entirely new: Swish marble tables, long white subway tile, and streamlined chairs offer a clean, minimalist look, while a border of Portuguese-style blue-and-white titles add a splash of colour. The tile theme continues to the floor, with a stunning mix of seemingly worn grey tiles interspersed with what appears to be worn, cracked hand-painted Portuguese blue-and-white titles (they’re brand new). Shoefies are now de rigueur.
Now that seating capacity has more than doubled, you can dine in as well as take it to go. Whether you stay in or head out with meal in hand, one thing’s for certain: these sandwiches are mighty addictive - and messy, but oh-so-worth the extra napkins.
Amaral and Dawe’s approach to the humble sando is simple: create a delicious artisan meal using fresh, quality ingredients. Easy enough, but their fanaticism and fine culinary skills and techniques are what take it beyond most: thin slices of brisket piled high instead of thick slabs, anything-but-basic condiments (smoked tomato jam, tomatillo sauce, when’s the last time you saw gribiche on a sandwich?), and alluring options: Will it be Fennel & Tomato or Confit Duck Leg today?
Everything is made on-site with the exception of cheese, prosciutto, and bread (Local purveyors Fred’s Bread do the buns, and baguettes are from a Portuguese bakery nearby), and they smoke everything in-house (out back, actually): brisket (brined and cured for ten days, smoked for an entire day, then slow roasted for 8-10 hours) bacon, and jackfruit.
Best-selling classics are in full effect: a classic Cheeseburger ($10); Strip Bacon ($8) towering with house cured and smoked bacon, fried egg, charred tomato, homemade pickle mustard mayo, and fresh lettuce; and Chicken Piri Piri ($11) boasting fresh juicy chicken deboned in-house, swathed in light batter, and fried until reaching a shatteringly crunchy exterior, doused with housemade piri piri sauce, then smothered with thick ribbons of charred onions and red cabbage slaw augmented with pops of pickled mustard seeds.
Looking for something new? Introducing: Sausage Patty ($8), Pork Schnitzel ($12), Texas Brisket ($14), and Confit Duck Leg ($14).
Succulent meat selections aside, Brock’s dedication to appealing vegan and vegetarian items should not go unnoticed. Their BBQ Jackfruit ($11), a play on pulled pork, and Fennel & Tomato Baguette ($12) with thick slices of braised, breaded fennel, smear of sundried tomato pesto, and topped with charred tomatoes, arugula, and cashew “cheese,” for starters. Bonus: Meat-lovers and plant-based eaters can dine in one place for once.
Psst: Don’t forget to check the daily specials as well. Past creations have included Porchetta, Pulled Pork, Monte Cristo, Reuben, Cauliflower Vindaloo, and as recently as last week: Soft Shell Crab with guac, mango salsa, and calmansi mayo. Drool.
Sides include Roasted Beet Salad ($12.50), Green Salad ($9), Soup ($7), Yukon Gold Fries (sm $3.50, lg $4.50), Poutine ($8/Truffled $11), and Coleslaw ($4). While typical pop is on hand, there’s def an emphasis on local brands – Boylan soda, Black River juice, and Eska water from Quebec. And a good cuppa joe is guaranteed, thanks to the Nuova Simonelli Espresso machine.
Another standout feature: A commitment to the environment. They’ve never utilized plastic containers for their food, and plastic straws and cutlery are being phased out. Even their small disposable condiment cups are veg-based. “It costs a bit extra, but it’s worth it,” says Henderson Ponte.
Sandwiches can be insanely mundane and banal if in the wrong hands. They can also be a thing of beauty, where textures and flavours are carefully weighed and considered, with each item from condiment to topping, given the same meticulous attention as the feature ingredient.
Anyone can make a sandwich. These guys create an experience worth stepping away from any desk or screen.
1260 Bloor St. W.
Tues to Thurs: 11am-8:30pm
Fri + Sat: 11am-9pm