Lunch Pick

WEEKLY LUNCH PICK: In-house smoked chicken panini at Pressed, the new West Centretown café

Fresh new lunch spot smokes their own chicken, bacon and babaganoush

On my first visit last week, Pressed had only been open for 10 days. I regret that I didn’t hold off a bit longer before testing out the new West Centretown café because I believe this spunky local business deserves a chance to work out some of the kinks. So consider this less a review and more initial impressions.

The simple but appealing menu of gourmet sandwiches and salads is a very good start and I applaud the use of local ingredients such as Whalesbone’s smoked trout and Upper Canada Heritage Meats featured in the pulled pork sandwich. The owner, Jeff Stewart, stopped by each table during the lunch hour to check in with his new patrons. He seemed eager to share the story of leaving behind his government gig in exchange for the immediacy of running a neighbourhood eatery. Ironically, timing seems to be one of the kinks that needs some work. There were multiple delays between ordering our food at the cash and receiving everything to the table. My sandwich was delivered nearly 10 minutes before my friend’s (ditto at the next table) and our side dishes arrived at random intervals in between.

What’s worse, I cannot say any of them were worth the wait: the mac and cheese, which was a tad oily, had to be sent back to be re-heated; the croutons in the caesar salad were impossible to bite; and the chipotle potato salad was drenched in a gloppy dressing. Sandwiches were paired with peppery potato chips (fine), but the pickled green beans and Brussels sprouts, while a cute touch, were much too sour to enjoy.

But here’s the good news. My chicken sandwich was quite tasty. Roasted red peppers and goat’s cheese is a classic combo with chicken; I found the garlic aioli superfluous. I loved the texture contrast of the classic ciabatta bun, crunchy and chewy and hearty enough to contain — but not overwhelm — the moist and plentiful fillings. I love the fact that they have their own smoker in the kitchen. According to their Facebook page, they smoke everything from chicken to wild boar to eggplant for baba ganoush. I love that the space is sunny, cozy and welcoming with that hipster-chic vintage vibe that plays on our hunger for less cookie-cutter, more creative spaces — even if it’s just for a 20-minute lunch break from the office or the singular daily stroller outing for the maternity-leave set.

A fresh, bright space creates a cozy new neighbourhood hangout

Speaking of which, I saw a few tables taking advantage of the cute $4 kids’ menu, which offers the choice of an all-natural hot dog or animal-shaped grilled cheese bites. Every table around me that day was enticed by the third option: the mac & cheese. Judging by the amount left on their plates, it didn’t pass muster with the toddlers either.

Cost: Sandwiches ($6-$13); sides $3.50.

Hours: Monday to Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.,  weekends, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Pressed, 750 Gladstone Ave., 613-680-9294.

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  • http://twitter.com/lana_stewart Lana Stewart

    Just a test.  Not sure why my previous comment didn’t show up!

  • http://twitter.com/lana_stewart Lana Stewart

    My first comment got lost on the interweb, but I’m going to
    try to recap my thoughts again.

    First, I think that reviewing a start-up business after 10
    days is setting the restaurant up for a bad review.  Especially when it is clear that not only is
    it a brand new small business, but the owner did a complete 360 in terms of a
    career.  He is new at running a business and
    there are bound to be quirks in the first few weeks (heck, months) of
    operation.  (For the record, Bowich still
    hasn’t figured out how to make a sandwich in less than 20 minutes after being
    in business for over a year… but that’s another rant.)

    This area of Centretown has been desperate for a café like
    this to move into the neighbourhood. The last we need are negative comments
    towards a fledgling small food business.

    Now, do they serve food with umami paste?  No. 
    Instead, they serve homemade pickled beans and carrots.  These pickles are far from sour.  I’m from the East coast, I know my pickles! I
    could eat an entire jar of these beans.

    We have been several
    times for dinner with our  toddler and we
    are slowly making our way through the menu. (By the way, our three year old
    always eats his dinner. But, I wouldn’t judge
    a restaurant by how much a toddler eats. )

    We’ve tried the veg chilli, beef brisket chilli, toddler hot
    dogs, collard greens with bacon and several paninis.  We have yet to encounter any disappointment
    after multiple visits. 

    I will continue to happily eat here with my family.  The atmosphere is lovely.  The people are friendly.  And above all, we always eat well.  Support our local small businesses!  Give them a chance to get their feet.

    PS: Did you happen to ask about the timing of your food or
    mention it to anyone before this post?  And if you believe that “this spunky local business deserves a chance to work out some
    of the kinks” before a review… why did you agree to publish it?

  • I Heart Veg Food

    Well, I know one thing: I will definitely try this place and decide for myself :) It’s close to work…there’s one point in its favour! And now I know they serve veg food!

  • FrozenFabulist

    Well, I can say that 10 months later the food is still decent and the service is still ridiculously bad. How hard can it possibly be to serve sandwiches and simple sides quickly and all at the same time?