Murrays Sandwich Emporium – Queen and Bathurst

Murrays Sandwich Emporium is a small hole in the wall restaurant located near the up and coming intersection of Queen and Bathurst. This neighbourhood has been undergoing lots of improvements with new condos and big box retailers popping up all along Queen. It is still a work in progress and small independent restaurants like Murrays are some of the great things that are bringing this area up a notch.

My first time around I had “The Murkey Turkey Club” ($9), with smoked turkey and double smoked bacon. Reading over the menu description again it’s no wonder I liked this. “Smoke” is probably one of my top 3 flavors. The club had a great taste to it that you wouldn’t expect from the looks of it. So often a sandwich with sliced deli-style turkey will have disappointingly bland turkey but this one isn’t one of those. It was possibly one of the best sliced deli turkeys I’ve ever had – moist and a ton of smokey flavor. The bacon as well was rich and crispy, just the way I like it. The other condiments were fresh, but this is to be expected as a minimum for the price you pay for premium sandwiches. I also ordered a side of fries which had a real fresh-cut taste, with lots of actual potato flavor. This is something that sometimes is forgotten with all the frozen fries that we eat, but these actually tasted like a potato.Walking in, there are two small wooden communal tables jutting out of an exposed brick wall and a vintage Pac-Man arcade machine on the other side. The atmosphere is laid-back and the staff are very friendly. On all the tables there are old copies of magazines like Vice and the TV plays a continuous loop of snowboarding trick shots. They clearly make their personal style apparent: young, hip, and “with it”. Their menu consists of mainly (surprise) sandwiches with clever names like “The Uncle Phil”, “The nutorious/mamma jamma” (sic) and “The BL-Tizzy”. They also have Okanagan Spring on tap and had a $10 pitcher deal the times that I went in. A great choice for a hot summer lunch. I recently had some work in the area so I took the chance to visit…twice. It’s always a good sign if you can draw me back in for a second lunch in an area so rich with great restaurants as Queen West.

For my second visit, I ordered the sandwich of the month which was a chicken caesar on a french bun. I’m sure it had some clever name like “Veni vidi chicky” or something but I can’t remember it now. The chicken caesar filling was spot on, with bits of the same double smoked bacon and moist chicken bits. It had a peppery caesar dressing that I might guess was homemade but I can’t confirm. My only complaint would be that the bun, which I am told is fresh-baked and delivered daily, was a bit thick for the ratio of filling to bready-ness. I suggested on twitter that they might want to try it in a wrap or something softer but got this very valid response, which I can’t really argue with. Fair enough, stick with what you know.

It’s nice to see an indie shop like this supporting lesser known Canadian brewery like Okanagan Spring. They pour two flavors, the 1516 and pale ale. I found that the pale ale was a nice, really easy drinking beer that went well with a sandwich. It had a light flavor that reminded me of MGD only better. The 1516 was a bit more bitter and had a lightly hoppy taste but was not overpowering. I usually like a hoppy beer for the flavor but have trouble drinking more than a couple because the bitterness gets to me, but the 1516 had a nice balance of flavor and bitterness.

Overall, Murrays is certainly worth checking out if you are in the area and are looking for a great bite to eat. The atmosphere is welcoming and the food is really great. Also, as they say, they are all up in your internets.

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