I was looking for a lunch spot and remember stumbling across Sky Blue Sky in my travels. All I knew is that they supposedly had good sandwiches and made an appearance on You Gotta Eat Here. I’ve been to quite a few restaurants dedicated to members of pop culture. For example, I’ve been to Lisa Marie in Toronto (Lisa Marie Presley) and Marlowe’s Ribs and restaurant in Memphis (her sorta famous dad). I’ve dined at Montecito in Toronto (Ivan Reitman’s tribute to himself) and sipped on cocktails named after Seinfeld characters at Thoroughbred, but I’ve never been to a place which has paid tribute to the American rock band Wilco. I’m not talking a poster or album cover hanging on the wall kind of dedication; I mean every sandwich and even the name of the place itself seems to be a WIlco song or album name.
With two locations, I strolled into the one on College Street. After taking a flight of stairs to get inside, I entered a very modest abode which resembled a deli. Red and white checked tablecloths covered the spattering of tables and hints of pop cultures stuck on the walls.
The menu is simple. There are a couple of daily soups and a whole lot of sandwiches including a nice selection of vegetarian ones. I opted for the split pea with ham($3) and the “Dreamer in my Dreams”($6), described as “slices of roast beef topped with onions cooked in red wine vinegar, banana peppers, slices of tomato and some cheddar cheese. We put this dream on our spicy jack bread with some mustard and mayonnaise and serve it to you well toasted.” The soup was well seasoned and had an enjoyable spicy bite at the end. The sandwich arrived in paper sporting the same red and white design. By well toasted they meant a trip to the panini press. The bread was delicious and housed a good proportion of fillings. The cheese was melted nicely and the red wine vinegar, despite it subtly, shone through nicely.
As I was waiting, I saw an older gentleman hobble up the stairs. He was greeted like Norm from cheers when he walked in. Soon a student dropped in and got the same treatment. The two guys working there were friendly, engaging and respectful. There was a sign reminding patrons that Styrofoam soup bowls are recyclable so please use the appropriate bin. You pay on the way out and not when you order. You are asked to grab whatever drink you want out of the cooler and leave it to you to let them know. That’s the mentality I like in a place. Many establishments have forgotten the fact that if you treat customers with respect, they will give it right back to you. As the for bill, my math might be off on the individual items because my soup, sandwich and Perrier came to a mere $10.54.
In a world trodden with Subway, Quizno’s, burger joints and overpriced business lunches a simple sandwich shop like Sky Blue Sky has appeal. It was a bit of a hippy mentality without the flower power, tie dye or Joe Cocker. Instead, the same “love not war” cordial nature was replaced by good food, a friendly environment and numerous tributes to Wilco. The staff are delightful and well…not Jared. To paint another picture Sky Blue Sky may not be for everybody (maybe it’s not where all the cool foodies go), but like Wilco, has found success through loyal followers (I guess a couple of Grammy wins doesn’t hurt either). Plus, I’d almost hang out there just to hear the neighbourhood priest come in andd confidently order a “Hell is Chrome” or maybe an old lady from the area (who would likely be a regular) come in and proclaim”I must be high!” Either way, I think they’d get a good sandwich.