Introducing: The Slow Room, a coffee shop that dares to open between Lit and The Common
With new indie cafés opening in Toronto every month, it takes a lot of gumption to jump into the fray—especially if the new spot is located between java havens Lit and The Common. Yet that’s just what Roberto and Sandra Mandarino, the co-owners of The Slow Room, have done. “We want people to come for the coffee and stay for the sandwiches,” says Roberto, who hopes his menu of locally sourced food will give him an edge on java-heavy College Street.
For his all-Italian creations, Roberto applies lessons he learned from his nonna. On offer are such sandwiches as the consentino (capicollo, sopressata, provolone and red peppers) and the vegetarian “eggplant meat(less)ball” (eggplant and basil ragu). Saturday, we’re told, is porchetta day.
The Slow Room takes its espresso seriously, too. Resident barista Drew Randall is a veteran of Bulldog Coffee, who does his thing on a shiny new La Marzocco Linea espresso machine. He’s also a classically trained cellist, so it’s not unusual for him to pop in a latte-sipping soundtrack of Italian baroque.
Seating is limited in the closet-sized space, but owners are going for a friendly, cozy vibe anyway, and hoping to pull it off without depending on Wi-Fi. Accompanying the sandwiches is a modest selection of pastries, some made in-house, like the gluten-free pistachio or almond cookies ($3 and $2, respectively) and others from La Strada Bakery.
Decor is trendily vintage, with tributes to the motherland thrown in here and there (red pepper garlands and a rather ferocious boar’s head known as Hugo). With ingredients this fresh, supplies are often limited—“when we’re out, we’re out,” Roberto says—but that’s OK, because as the closed sign eloquently points out, “shut happens.”
The Slow Room, 874 College St.
11 thoughts on “Introducing: The Slow Room, a coffee shop that dares to open between Lit and The Common”
Great little spot with friendly service and delicious food. I went in for a coffee towards the end of the day and was given a delicious pork sandwich to try out for free because it was almost closing time. I guess they take the freshness thing seriously! Good to see a nice little locally sourced spot.
Charming little spot. Not only amazing coffee (I had a latte) but really great service. I remember being served by this barista at another indie coffee shop (not known for the best service), and remember him being way more gruff, I guess his new work environment has had a positive effect. Not only did he remember me by name, he even remembered how I like my latte. Good choice on your barista. The sandwich menu also looks amazing, have to go and check out their spit roasted pork, severed on Saturdays.
The pistachio cookie was amazing, but the coffee would definetly not lure me away from The Common
Drew is the best! One morning he had my coffee all ready when I stepped in because he had seen me lock up my bike across the street!
A warm, charming friendly place – these folks understand what hospitality is. The tasteful decor blends early 20th century Toronto with Italian postwar industrial, chamber music in the background just added to it. If you grab a seat in the window on a sunny day you might just get a tan. Savoir vivre.
This spot has been many things in a short time – none of them very successful. When The Slow Room opened I was rooting for them ( because why wouldn’t I want access to Porchetta 5 minutes from my house!?). I went in on a slow day when they first opened, just to say hello, and welcome to the neighbourhood. I wanted to talk about the porchetta sandwich ( which wasn’t available that day). The man behind the counter was uninterested, rude, and not helpful at all. He talked to me with his hand on the coffee machine, which to me, said: if you’re not buying a coffee, get out.
So I did leave, without a coffee and without a sandwich. And I haven’t been back since.
You waited three months to post this. You must really like pork, to be holding that comment in all this time.
I cannot imagine either of the gentlemen behind the counter being rude or otherwise unwelcoming in this shop. I have been greeted with nothing but warmth and generosity on each visit.
Perhaps his hand was on the machine because it is a tool he uses daily while slinging some of the best espresso shots in the city? I don’t know, just a thought.
I will continue to enjoy those delicious coffees. Luckily they also have one of the best gluten free treats in the city, the pistachio cookie.
Keep up the good work guys.
Oh ……. the porchetta is to die for. Lucky me.
Slow Room is an amazing place. Modern but casual, great food without pretension. A relaxing little spot with a great european feel. A lot of care goes into this place from the owners and it shows in their product. Talking about it is making me hungry……
Had the extreme pleasure of having my first espresso at The Slow Room. Walking in transported me back to Rome, where everyone partakes of an espresso & small baked sweet for breakfast. Roberto, the owner, greets every customer with a heartfelt greeting and his staff are always helpful in answering any questions about the unique offerings they sell. The espresso was spot-on, as were the other cafe drinks being produced for the other patrons. As for the famous gluten-free pistaschio, it smacks of real pistachio goodness and for being gluten-free, fohget-about-it.
Next time, it will be a famous porchetta sandwich. A must to go visit…
Way to go Jennifer. You show’em. Sadly, you are missing out on some of the best prochetta in this city. The Slow Room’s pork kicks ***! Melt in your mouth kinda experience, no extras needed, just the meat! Had an espresso before I decided to check this place out, however, the caps and lattes I saw being produced were on par with any other shop in Toronto.
The family that runs this place really knows their stuff. Great food, great coffee, laid back atmosphere. Cannot wait to have another one of those pork sandwiches.
Still my favourite coffee and most honest barista in the city. Thank you guys !
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