Aroma Espresso Cafe (Toronto)

Aroma Espresso Bar

Aroma Espresso Bar is a franchise that’s been quickly taking over the quick service food market. Their sandwiches may seem a tad pricy ($5.95 for a half or $9.95 for a whole), but for $4 a relatively large salad can be added to any of them; with a full sandwich it becomes sufficient for sharing.

The Aroma A.C.E. (avocado, chicken and egg) is a heartier version of a B.L.T. with the cool creamy avocado and fresh arugula warmed with a thin chicken breast and cooked through egg. 

If you want something meatier, the steak sandwich is the better choice. A hot satisfying sandwich packed with sliced beef, sautéed peppers and onions and gooey mozzarella cheese, it’s delicious and full of flavour. When the steak’s juices soak into the bread’s crust, there’s even a beef dip quality to the sandwich.  

There are plenty of vegetarian options as well. My husband tried the fig and goat cheese croissant ($5.95), which he found was a tasty combination of sweet fig jam, creamy goat cheese, red onion and peppery arugula and balanced with balsamic vinegar.

Any meat or cheese filling can also be replaced with grilled tofu. I substituted this firm protein in the grilled chicken sandwich and it went rather nicely with the red pepper, arugula and creamy aroma sauce. I only wish they didn’t turn the sandwich vegan as some mozzarella on the tofu would have helped provide more flavour and interest.

Aroma’s quinoa salad (part of combo or $6.95 a la carte) is packed with diced tomato and cucumbers (it easily fills a third of the container). Additionally, it contains fluffy quinoa, thinly sliced roasted eggplant and crunchy raw onions. It’d be ideal if the herb dressing was saltier, given all the other ingredients are rather neutral.

The freekah ($7.95), an Arabic wheat recently added to Aroma’s menu, is a filling salad to have solo. The blend of grains, including black quinoa and sprouted brown rice, is nutty and has a satisfying chewiness to it. Paired with baby kale, tomato, cucumber, carrot, pickle, red onion and parsley there is tons of flavours and textures. There’s even a hefty dollop of thick labneh cheese, which is closer to yoghurt, adding a tangy creaminess to the salad.

In the winter, a bowl of their hot comforting soup may be in order. Their chicken chipotle (part of combo or $5.25 a la carte) had plenty of chicken, corn, pepper, celery and wild rice, ending with a kick of heat that’s rather tasty. The soup is thick and filling; for the lactose intolerant it should be described as chowder given its creamy base. 

Have visited during dinner service, I’ve stuck to their food options. But, Aroma does have an extensive drinks menu with options such as Turkish coffee, London Fog tea and hot apple cider rarely found at other cafes. The sole drink I’ve tried is the kale and mango smoothie ($4.95) and it’s absolutely delicious – the juicy mango most prominent and a great thick consistency.

Although it’s a self-serve restaurant, Aroma uses real cutlery if you’re eating in their dining room. Additionally, locations tend to have a decent amount of tables so most diners tend to stay and eat. The chain has become a great inexpensive way to catch-up with companions over quick healthy meals.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10
Disclaimer: The above meals were complimentary, but rest assured as noted in Gastro World's mission statement, I will be honest.

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 797 College Street
                 8 Park Home Avenue

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!

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