One of the things I missed most when I went gluten free was a nice sandwich. Toasted bread, loads of fresh toppings, juicy turkey, that sort of thing. I tried making sandwiches at home, but many brands of gluten free bread didn’t quite come up to the mark. They either tasted like cardboard, or the slices were the size of a playing card, or it was prohibitively expensive. Also, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m a very lazy chef, and convincing myself to chop up a mountain of veggies just for a sandwich was an exercise in futility. Thanks to Samantha and Melissa at Columbia Street Sandwich Company, my dream of a perfect gluten free sandwich has been realized.
Gluten Free Options at Columbia Sandwich:
The sandwiches: They are proud of their gluten free sandwiches, and with good reason. They tested ten different kinds of bread before finding the perfect slice. The result is gluten free bread that tastes good, toasts well, and is a decent size. The turkey, bacon, and avocado sandwich is delectable and filling. They also offer vegetarian options, and classics like the BLT. Every sandwich comes with a mountain of fresh toppings.
The soup: They try to offer a gluten free soup option every day. The turkey quinoa soup is loaded with turkey, vegetables, and quinoa, and reminds me of the epic soups that used to come from our Thanksgiving turkeys. They go through two whole roast turkeys every day, and often make soup from the leftovers.
The baked goods: If you’ve got a sweet tooth, Columbia Sandwich will definitely satisfy your cravings with their gluten free baked goods. On a recent visit, I tried both their peanut butter cookie and pumpkin chocolate loaf. The cookie was light and chewy, and reminded me of after school snacks in my childhood. The pumpkin chocolate loaf was moist, full of chocolate chips, and not overly spiced. Despite trying to save room for the rest of my meal, I devoured the whole thing. Their gluten free treats are very popular, and often sell out quickly.
The snacks and sides: They keep snacks and side dishes in a little cooler by the cash register, and try to always have a gluten free option available. When I was there last, they had fruit bowls. Sometimes they have veggies and hummus. Whatever the gluten free option, it’s always fresh and prepared in-house.
What to Watch Out For:
The toaster: They don’t have a separate toaster for gluten free bread, so if you’d like your sandwich toasted, the bread will go through the same toaster as gluten-containing bread. They’re very good about letting you know, so you can decide if you’d like to take the risk.
The breakfast bagels: Unfortunately, finding a good, affordable gluten free bagel is even more difficult than finding decent gluten free bread. The bagels are not gluten free, but the breakfast toppings can be served on gluten free bread.
The service at Columbia Sandwich can be summed up in one word: amazing. Early on, Samantha and Melissa realized the need for good gluten free options, and have really stepped up to make it happen. The best part is that unlike many restaurants, they don’t charge extra for gluten free! They don’t believe that people should be penalized for having dietary restrictions, so the price of a cookie is the price of a cookie, whether it’s gluten free or not.
The friendly service and welcoming atmosphere means they have a lot of regular customers, and know them by name.
The kitchen is not a 100% gluten free environment, but they understand the risk of cross contamination, and are more than willing to answer any questions about their processes. Everything except the gluten free bread is made in-house, and has that fresh, homemade flavour.
As you might have guessed, Columbia Street Sandwich Company is located right on Columbia Street, in the heart of downtown New West. The restaurant itself is quite small, with a few tables and a bar near the window. It’s bright and cozy, and exemplifies the close-knit community spirit of New Westminster. Because of its excellent food and convenient location, it can get very busy around lunch time. If you want to avoid the rush, go early and request your meal to go! Recently, they opened a second location at 428 Columbia Street called Columbia Street Eats. This location focuses on non-sandwich lunch items. It’s also a small space, but bright and welcoming.
Gluten free lunchers rejoice! The perfect gluten free sandwich does exist, and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. Columbia Street Sandwich Company is a great place for a friendly chat along with your meal, or a convenient place to get wonderful homemade food on the run.
If this is your business and your gluten free options have changed, please let me know! My goal is to provide the most up to date information on New Westminster’s gluten free choices.