So they had the usual "let's promote our restaurant by offering food!" at the TIFF Block Party yesterday. Here are my fragmentary impressions.
1) Paese. They were offering some kind of pork sandwich and an ice cream sandwich. Both were served on a small "brioche". I'd call it a downsized hamburger bun, but whatever. The only difference was the ice cream brioche had sugar baked in on the top.
I didn't partake of the pork sandwich, but my friend did. He said it started off tasty enough, but near the end he was not enjoying eating it. He found it too rich.
I did try the ice cream sandwich. A small scoop of peach and a small scoop of vanilla on the sugar brioche. It wasn't awful, but it wasn't spectacular. It's really hard to screw up bread or ice cream, and they managed not to do that. However, at $5 per sandwich offering, we both agreed we wouldn't order these again if offered.
2) Dhaba. Four items for $5. I did have this. A smattering of romaine salad, a scoop of a chickpea/spinach dish, some basmati rice with a hint of saffron rice and some raisins, and two small chunks of chicken (a bit bigger than a pair of dice, but not by much), swimming in butter chicken sauce.
I have a natural inclination towards savoury flavours rather than sweet. That said, this butter chicken was super sweet. Too much for me. I don't understand the popularity of this dish in general, and even less here. But, I guess fat and sugar have their appeal. Maybe my palate had been spoiled by the ice cream sandwich, which I ate before Dhaba.
3) Grindhouse. This was the best offering of the day. My friend and I were heading to the Wheat Sheaf and saw a trio playing in front of some restaurant. They were offering pulled short rib sandwiches with a smoked raclette for $3. While we were chatting with (I assume) one of the owners who was handing us a flyer for the band and a menu for their restaurant, his partner produced one sandwich for each of us, free of charge. Really gracious of them, and it was delicious. A bit sweet, not too much, a hint of smokiness from the meat and cheese...I can see why they get top marks around Chowhound.
Will definitely be returning to Grindhouse. As for the others, not so much. Especially Paese, there was no feeling of either "wow!" or value from their offerings.
My only regret is not getting a free cupcake from the booth that was offering them.
333 King St W, Toronto, ON M5V, CA