Somehow the people from Chesterfield’s Gastro Diner have managed to clone my mother’s ‘70s cottage couch. It now sits, in its daisied splendour, at a communal table for six.
In the space that used to be the coffee house Illume, on the ground floor of a condo development in Westboro, Chesterfield’s serves breakfast/brunch/lunch on weekdays. About a month old and declaring this a ‘soft opening’ (which refers to the menu, not the relative comfort of the couches), I nevertheless plopped myself down last week for lunch in an effort to talk about how well their sandwich is made.
The menu leads with eggs (the very first item, actually, is the vegetarian ‘Benny’ with a bean patty and avocado standing in for the usual bit of pork. Sign of the times, when a breakfast diner leads with a veggie dish? Though I am quick to reassure that the next item contains bacon and sausage, which can be upgraded to pastrami for a toonie.
With news that the Rideau Bakery’s delicious challah was not available for the ‘Israeli breakfast’ (the bakery was closed for Yom Kippur), I settled for the chicken schnitzel. I had seen it go by my table en route to another, and judging by the happy chatter at the schnitzel table, it seemed to have been well received.
It was impressive. It starts with real chicken breast (not the usual pressed and seasoned product), which has a light crumb-coating and then is lightly herbed; it’s fried, then topped with a chunky, well-flavoured tomato sauce and a slice of provolone. Broiled to melt the cheese, it arrives tucked into a grilled bun layered with (tasteless baby) spinach, the cheese and sauce oozing out as they should.
Less delicious was the bean salad I chose as one of the ‘free sides’ served with the sandwiches. The elements were correct – tomato, black beans, corn, red onion, a bit of herb – but it was under-seasoned, under-herbed, and overall dull, which was disappointing given the season’s availability of fresh, delicious corn and tomatoes. If Chesterfield’s looking for advice during their soft opening, I’d suggest they work on that.
Open Wednesday to Friday, 7am to 3pm; Saturday and Sunday, 8am to 3pm
111-1433 Wellington Street West, 613-680-8990