July 28, 2009
Address: 804 O’Connor Drive, Toronto
Alana had: Grilled vegetable sandwich with fries.
Rich had: Roasted veggie calzone.
Plus: Generous portions. Lots of veggies. Tasty food. Great service/staff.
Minus: Generic atmosphere and menu.
Rating: 7 happy birthdays out of 10
Rich sez: After a laid-back afternoon spent watching Arrested Development, Alana and I headed out with some family to celebrate my Uncle Ray’s 57th birthday. According to my cousin, my uncle ALWAYS wants to eat at Jawny Bakers for his birthday. Alana and I had never even heard of this place until now.
As you park in the rear and walk past their patio, Jawny Bakers looks like your run-of-the-mill, cookie-cutter family sports bar/restaurant. When we walked in we were greeted by super friendly staff, bombarded by flat screen TVs playing sports (fine with me), and swarmed by rambunctious little-leaguers running amuck. Our hostess led us to a table by the front window — people watching was a go.
As I skimmed through the menu, I came to a stop at their Halibut and Chips.
Guinness beer-battered Alaskan halibut with some French fries, tartar sauce and coleslaw. Sounds really good — how much? $20.89! What? Why? I was blown away by the price, so I quickly moved onto something else. I paused at the pizza section of the menu and noticed that they only have one pizza that is offered as a calzone. But, with a positive attitude and a big smile, I was able to talk the waitress into getting the Roasted Vegetable Pizza turned into a calzone for me [These are not the droids you’re looking for]. In the past, my experiences with calzones have usually been disappointing — they are always too doughy and the toppings are usually nowhere to be found. My expectations were not high for Jawny Bakers version.
As we waited, I drank a mediocre Caeser, follwed by a pint of Stella Artois — Cheers to Uncle Ray! Here comes the food. When it was plopped down in front of me, to my surprise, my calzone had a light thin-crust shell and was the size of my head. Now that’s big! As I cut into it to look inside, I found a hot vegetable orgy taking place. Its grilled zucchini, red onions, roasted red peppers, basil tomato sauce, and mozzarella were so well balanced, it was a flavour overload. Every dip into the marinara sauce was like a peek into heaven. I still can’t believe how good this calzone was — easily the best I have ever tasted. Alana wanted a piece … I was hesitant to let her try some but, with a simple wink of the eye, I understood what was for dessert.
Conclusion: Now that I have experienced the food at Jawny Bakers, the $20.89 for Halibut and Chips might not be so crazy. I will definitely give it a try next year for my Uncle Ray’s 58th birthday.
Alana sez: I was not overly optimistic as we stepped into Jawny Bakers — like Rich said, the decor and atmosphere are very generic and chain-like. My apprehension was not eased when I had a look at the menu — this was your standard family restaurant fare, clearly aiming to please all palates with the usual non-threatening offerings. I finally decided on the grilled vegetable sandwich and settled in to enjoy the company of Rich’s family.
I only made it about a quarter of the way through my gigantic Diet Pepsi (JB doesn’t serve Diet Coke — automatic rating reduction! Just kidding. Maybe.) before our food arrived. My grilled veggie sandwich was humungous. Thick slabs of grilled zucchini, an entire grilled pepper, and loads of roasted onion were joined by tomato, lettuce, lots of goat cheese, and some pesto mayo on a piece of flatbread that was folded around the fillings into something like a Kong-sized taco. Once I overcame the challenge of wrapping my mouth around this absurdly large sandwich, I was pleased to find that it was actually pretty awesome. The combination of flavours was great, the veggies tasted exceptionally fresh, and the flatbread was perfectly fluffy and delicious. My sandwich was paired with a generous portion of crispy French fries, but I barely touched those — after I finished cramming the Godzilla-wich into my gate, there was no way anything else would fit in my belly.
Although I was initially skeptical about Jawny Bakers, I’m happy to say that it demolished my expectations when it came to the food. Despite the bland atmosphere and menu, the food quality greatly exceeds what you would normally find in a restaurant of this type. If you ever find yourself looking for a chain-like restaurant to take some of your less-adventurous family or friends, but you still want good eats, consider Jawny Bakers — it’s a thousand times better than Moxie’s, Kelsey’s, or anything else you would find in the same parking lot as a movie theatre.