Under the High Wheel’s croque monsieur arrives at my table and the aroma has already made a serious impression. There’s a thin cross of herb oil atop a slice of melted provolone that spills over the edges of the oven-baked sandwich. Once bitten, a creamy bechamel reveals itself from under the provolone and another layer of candied apple from under the hot roasted pork. Together, the rich flavours ascend to the summit of diner fare.
But it’s no ordinary diner. Dim Edison bulbs hang from high exposed ceilings and the wooden booths are not unlike church pews. The airiness, steel chairs and the glass displays of gourmet salads make it feel like a deli to Blush Organic Market next door. And while the two aren’t related, they both share an emphasis on local ingredients (and not to mention a building, the new Roots on Whyte).
The restaurant, co-owned by Jennifer Ogle (formerly of Caf Leva), covers a large of canvas with a few, careful strokes. The traditional breakfast simply tastes better than most because these two eggs are free-range and these sausages are infused with cranberry and maple syrup. There are crepes available in either white or buckwheat flour. I recommend a chocolate and hazelnut crepe, which is topped with whole nuts, mixed fruits and chocolate-coffee drizzle, then finished with a glob of the house-made whipped cream that’s far better than anything from an aerosol can.
When it comes to lunch items, it’s hard to top the epic pork sandwich, though the portabella burger comes close. At $17, the moist, thick and hot mushroom cap, juicy pickled beets and spicy aioli is proof that you get what you pay for.