Sunny Summer | Restaurant Reviews | Halifax, Nova Scotia | THE COAST

Sunny Summer

Dartmouth Crossing's Sunwich brings a welcome ray of hope to an otherwise bleak landscape, says

On Friday afternoons, there is a scrappy little farmers' market---only seven or eight booths---tucked into a lot at the end of the downtown-style rows of boutique stores at Dartmouth Crossing. Far from the shadows of towering mega-mart signs and football field sized box stores, small tents filled with seasonal fruits and vegetables, fresh sausages, local honey and crusty breads bring a bit of humanity to the corporate facade of the shopping park.

Inspired by the bounty at the market, my friends and I head to the nearby Sunwich Cafe, craving a crisp, bright meal packed with fresh flavours, fruits and veggies. As soon as we walk through the doors, we're greeted with a smile from the cashier, who stands ready to take our order. A bright, colourful chalkboard lists the available sandwiches and salads. We ask about specials and soups, and she walks us through our options. We order the roasted chicken sandwich ($5.99), a club sandwich ($5.99) with a small summer salad ($4.50) and a soup and sandwich combo ($10) with the smoked deli sandwich and "loaded baked potato" soup.

The sandwich maker takes his time slicing and arranging our lunches, beckoning us over as each sand is wiched, handing our individual trays---meals brightly arranged on green-and-white-checkered paper---over to us at the other end of the counter.

All of the sandwiches are delivered on "sunny bread"---a pillowy, golden bread that's dotted with caraway seeds. The club is the only toasted sandwich; the lack of the option for the others had completely escaped our attention, which we regret since the toasted bread is wonderfully light and crispy.

Toasting aside, the roasted chicken sandwich is the best of the sandwiches. A slice of mozzarella lays a foundation for a pile of sprouts, juicy tomato, crisp lettuce and big chunks of tender roasted chicken. The slight bitterness of the sprouts is tasty with the slightly sweet house-made "sunny sauce."

The club has two thick slices of turkey and a generous stack of well-crisped bacon tucked into the first layer. A slice of cheddar, tomato and lettuce round out the second layer. It's a good, fresh sandwich. The turkey is an unfortunate weak point, though. While moist and juicy, it has a strange, processed mouth feel.

The salad---a pile of emerald romaine topped with sharp red onion, salty feta, chunks of tomato and sweet, halved strawberries tied together with a light balsamic vinaigrette---is a simple, balanced side.

The deli sandwich is pretty good, but the smoked meat also has a vaguely out-of-a-package feel. I prefer thinly sliced piles of meat; this sandwich has just two thick slices of smoked deli, with the same standard---but fresh---veggies thrown together with mozzarella, mustard and slices of sweet pickles. I would have been happier with a crisp dill; the sweet pickles end up a bit cloying.

The accompanying soup is very tasty, though sadly served up in a Styrofoam bowl. The idea of chemicals leaching into my hot soup isn't exactly appetizing. A thick potato chowder, it isn't an exact taste match to a loaded baked potato as the cashier had gleefully guaranteed when I ordered, but it's very creamy and has a nice hint of smoky bacon. Too rich and heavy for me to finish alone, it is a great side shared between the three of us.

While our lunch doesn't have the inspiration our trip to the farmers' market instilled in us, an easy lunch free of fryers and full of fresh ingredients definitely makes for a nice option---an option I'd definitely pick again.

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