Thursday, March 5, 2009

Merci Mon Ami, reviewed for Single Men's Magazine

Want a little lunchtime oasis that allows you to relax in an open, airy and sunlit filled space that doesn’t resemble anything close to a cafeteria? Look no further than Merci Mon Ami, 171 East Liberty Street #107. This little cafe style lunch bistro has been serving up some of the freshest lunch fare that this neighbourhood has to offer for about 10 months. Owners Kevin and Cindy (also the Executive Chef) clearly have an affection for the Francais with their fresh baguette style sandwiches, jazzy tunes and Parisian artwork. They also host the crowd, have befriended the regulars and run their catering business out of the same kitchen.

The soup du jour was roasted vegetable puree with seasoned croutons ($5). Not the most exciting of soups but well executed. It tasted fresh unlike most soups of the day that are made from last weeks’ leftovers – trust me I work in the industry.

For the main event, I requested their most popular sandwich and was presented with the pesto chicken supreme ($10). Aw chicken. The good old Canadian stand by. Usually overcooked and dry as a bone. What people order because they are too afraid to try anything different. Well, I have good news. This sandwich beats most with an actually juicy and tender breast, sautéed button mushrooms, caramelized onions, sundried tomato pesto and cheese. The Kaiser was perfectly pressed in the panini maker and the side salad, although over dressed, was unusual. It was comprised of Mesculin greens, dried cranberries, gummy bear like apricots, grape tomatoes, walnuts and onions. The dressing was an interesting mix of sesame oil? Garlic chilli oil? Rice vinegar? I’m stumped. Apparently not even Kevin knows Cindy’s secret recipe.

Tired of processed luncheon meat? Fed up with puny sandwiches that have you starving in a few hours? Try out their Roasted Turkey Sandwich ($11). They carefully carve a house roasted bird and pile it unto a baguette with homemade stuffing and all the trimmings . The result is Thanksgiving dinner on a bun (minus the in-laws).

The salad of the day ($6) was unfortunately just a slight variation of the house without the apricots, cranberries and secret dressing. This time avec bleu cheese and a more recognizable vinaigrette.

All ingredients were bright and colourful. No deep fried, soggy veal panini here. The bread is freshly made by local bakeries. The communal tables stimulate conversation. The large west facing patio in front would be amazing in the warmer months. They are also actively supporting the environment which means that you are too when you dine there. They have gone green with all the takeout containers and utensils being biodegradable and the napkins are made from recycled paper.

And don’t worry, you don’t have to work in the village to eat here because parking is a plenty. You can actually park for free all along East Liberty Street.

When thinking of where to go for a great sandwich, a nice little lunch date or where to hold your next meeting or intimate social gathering, give Kevin and Cindy a ring and if she reveals the secret, you can give me ring.

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