SENSES BAKERY (2 Queen East, at Yonge, 416-364-7303; 318 Wellington West, at Blue Jays Way, 416-961-0055) Complete lunches for $35 per person, including all taxes, tip and a glass of mineral water. Average main $16. Open daily 7 am to 7 pm. Unlicensed. Access: barrier-free. Rating: NN Rating: NN
It's just before noon at Senses Bakery, the recently launched way-upscale gourmet shop slash café located in the former Bank of Montreal at Queen and Yonge that doubles as a TTC portal.
I find the Literary Device perusing a display case lined with heart-shaped boxes of chocolatier Thomas Haas's pricey confections. Since the winter sun shining in through the cathedral-ceiling'd space's tall windows is picture perfect, I pull out my cellphone to grab a quick shot of my long-time gastro pal surrounded by such seeming luxury.
"We don't allow photographs," barks the waitron behind the counter. At which point any sensible person would tell her where she can carefully store her handmade champagne truffles ($1.75 each), turn around and walk out. For good. Instead, we smile through our teeth, explaining that we're here for lunch and about to spend some dosh, and take a deuce next to the escalator to the echoing subway below.
We're the only customers.
We begin with the day's composed soup, a tasty if unperturbed potage thick with multiple mushrooms and rich with cream (all soups $7). We sensuously slurp every spoonful.
The Device continues with an open-face sandwich that's menu-described as rare, seared and iced tuna on black olive ciabatta ($18). The single slice comes spread with both a mild caper tapenade and meek wasabi mayo and dressed with quartered hard-boiled egg, a few strands of braised leek and a smidgen of sliced sashimi-style tuna.
The fish tastes more frozen than iced. A small tangle of salad - al dente haricots verts, marinated wild mushroom and fabulous faux noodles made from sweet ripe mango - completes the pretty plate.
Like the Device's sandwich, my smoked Alaskan black cod on non-toasted pumpernickel strewn with pea shoots ($19) comes stone cold and flavour-challenged despite a toss of ridiculously over-salty black olives.
A sub-room-temperature poached egg plopped on top and some pea-sprout-garnished fritter thing on the side fail to help matters. And at nearly 20 bucks a pop, wouldn't it make more Sense if sandwiches this expensive came with more than one slice of bread?