Tucked between Hambrgr and Burger Lab on Ottawa Street North, is a small, dimly lit, unassuming little building housing the Down The Street Food Co., owned and operated by chef Michael Carruth who serves up soup and sandwiches.
Between burger joints and opposite Simply Italian Bakery and the new Ottawa Market, both of which serve coffee and sandwiches. Carruth sets his eatery apart by offering a take out counter service. Think Seinfeld’s “The Soup Nazi”.
Rather than coffee, he offers cold soft drinks from the Pop Shoppe. A customer also has a choice of candies, occasional pastries, and dog treats. It’s fair to say, the eatery is unique to the street. “Yeah, yeah,” you say, “but what about the soup and sandwiches?” It is the meals, after all, that will bring diners to Carruth’s counter.
I confess, I haven’t had the soup. I’m not a big soup eater. But I have had a few of the sandwiches. Carruth likes to mix up the menu. He has the “Home Team” which are the sandwiches available every day, and the “Vistors”, which will be available at the pleasure of the cook. I had already enjoyed the Savoury Meatloaf and the Caprese, so I went with the Classic Monte Cristo, ham and cheese between french toast. I haven’t had one of these in many, many (many, many) years. It was a delicious trip down memory lane for my taste buds.
If I were to choose my favourite, it would be a toss up between the Roast Beef Panini and the Savoury Meatloaf. All the sandwiches are good, but the roast beef? Read the ingredients: Braised beef, shallots, sliced potato, Guinness cheddar and horseradish aioli. It’s Sunday dinner on a bun. How could it not be good? But it’s not just a list of stuff on bread. The beef itself is cooked to a perfection of melt-in-your-mouth tenderness. I can’t make a roast beef sandwich like this one, myself.
The description of the meatloaf doesn’t entice the same way, served with a comparatively spartan provolone and sundried tomato relish, but the meatloaf … the meatloaf delivers a punch of flavour to the throat — in a good way. The first bite will have you forgetting the oppressive 30 degree heat and humidity as your brain momentarily pauses to ask, “What’s that?”
Ottawa Street North is becoming rich with options for where to eat and Carruth is creating a niche for Down The Street Food Co. by offering up quality and mouth watering sandwiches at a take out counter. Unlike the Soup Nazi, though, Carruth is open to a friendly chat.
Go and try it on your next lunch break, or try the breakfast wrap on a visit to the farmers’ market.