FUSE ROOM (418 College, at Bathurst, 416-920-5937) Complete meals for $15, including all taxes, tip and a pint of draft. Average main $6. Open daily 10:30 am to 3 am. Licensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms in basement. Rating: NN Rating: NN
There are no other customers in the Fuse Room on a Tuesday afternoon, which is fine with us. We haven't come for the popular DJ and spoken word scene. We just want a sandwich.
The absence of patrons means we can grab one of two tables streetside, where construction dust clogs the air. We breathe it in rather than be subjected to Fuse's warrior fantasy paintings, similar to those looted from Saddam's palace.
Along with the Red Room, Oasis and Sneaky Dee's, this small, shabby-chic venue defines the tone of College between Spadina and Bathurst. The champagne cocktail crowd continue to stick to the west, as though to cross Bathurst would somehow diminish their prospects.
The menu is a long list of interesting $5.95 grilled sandwiches, plus several salads and breakfast options. My guest has the chicken breast sandwich with sun-dried tomatoes, eggplant and goat cheese. He's forced to wrestle portions from his mouth, an unfortunate situation that reminds me of gagging on a piece of cartilage in an airport chicken salad when I was 15. The sandwich has to be deconstructed, and we conclude that there's no room in our lives for poorly trimmed poultry.
My Thai vegetarian sandwich is flavourless, and I suspect I've been served the wrong thing until a drizzle of peanut sauce seeps out the side and I taste it on its own. The avocado, roasted red pepper and Brie are completely lost between thick slices of sweet, cakey egg bread. A different type of loaf might work better in the sandwich grill.
Fortunately, the accompanying salad is a satisfying bowl of mixed greens with chunks of watermelon, tomato, apple, grapes and sunflower seeds in a light dressing.
For $5.95 ($7.95 with soup or salad) I hate to complain, but all the sandwiches looked so appealing on paper that our disappointment sours the deal.