Rare: Tale of two sandwiches

This is a story of triumph and failure. This is a story of the Jekyll and Hyde of fast food restaurants. This is an over-dramatic introduction, but is fitting as you will see.

The Urban Eatery is a new, state-of-the-art food court that has been recently opened in the basement of the Eaton Centre. It replaced an outdated and boring food court that you could find in hundreds of other malls all over the world. In addition to adding much needed atmosphere to the standard food court it also has the great feature of having standardized reusable dishes for all the restaurants. This reduces food container waste by up to 88%, which translates into a LOT of waste saved for one of the biggest malls in Canada.

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The good

I’m a huge fan of a sandwich and soup lunch combo, so my first time at the Urban Eatery I was happy to find Rare. Their motto sums up their menu: “Premium sandwiches, soups, salads, well done!”. Their specialty is roast beef sliced right in front of you on fresh crusty bread with various other toppings and fixings. The bread resembles a baguette, but isn’t exactly the same.

Now to get to the “meat” of the story…my first time around (pictured to the left) I ordered the “Rare old fashioned” with au jus and creamy horseradish with a split pea and ham soup on the side ($8.95 for combo). In a word this meal was great. I’m a big fan of roast beef so I often have it whenever there is a choice and this roast beef was possibly the softest and most tender I’ve ever had. It was dipped in jus just before being put on the bun and the horseradish dressing added a perfect spice to each bite. Great sandwich. The pea soup was good as well; hearty and flavorful with small bits of ham which really weren’t needed but didn’t kill the soup. I really enjoyed everything about it!

I think this is why I was so massively disappointed the second time around. I was meeting my sister for lunch and I recommended Rare because I had had such a good experience with it the first time, but it seemed like a whole different restaurant this time.

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My sister got the turkey, apple and chedder with arugula and cranberry relish with a side of chicken noodle soup (pictured above/left). I got the “Oh Canada” with double-smoked bacon, caramelized onions, creamy horseradish and aged Canadian cheddar with white bean and spinach soup (pictured above/right).

Both soups were good but we were both very disappointed with our sandwiches.

The turkey sandwich ($8.95 for combo) was one of their “Express Daily Sandwiches” which are stored in the cooler with their salads beside the deli slicer. All of their sandwiches are toasted on a panini press by request, but neither of our sandwiches were toasted long enough to even warm the cheese to a point of melting. The turkey was actually cold in the middle. I’m guessing that either their grills weren’t properly warmed up or they didn’t take into account the fact that the sandwich was chilled to begin with. Either way, it was disappointing.

The ugly...

My “Oh Canada” ($8.95 for combo, surprise!) fell far short of my expectations. I had so many problems with my roast beef it made me a bit sad. First of all, as I mentioned before, all the contents of the sandwich were cold. The beef itself was tough and it seemed like every bite I took pulled out huge chunks because I couldn’t bite pieces off the beef (pictured left). Each piece had strong tendons (or something) that just wouldn’t break off easily. Possibly because it wasn’t cooked enough, or possibly because it was cut wrong. Either way, bleh.

My experience has me unsure of the reliability of the product at Rare. I still have faith in this place because of my first experience, but until I’ve made my way around the other options in the Urban Eatery, I probably won’t be giving them a third chance anytime.

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