One of Toronto’s best not-so-secret bars has been left empty the past few months, disappointing the many who once enjoyed live DJs and sports games on Cold Tea Bar’s patio. But now, things are heating up again at Cold Tea with the opening of its new sandwich shop.
Hot Dip is built around the concept of the classic French dip sandwich, which features roast beef on a white French roll with au jus and horseradish. “I’ve always loved that sandwich,” says owner Jon Lucas. His love for this 1970s diner-style sandwich inspired him to create a menu full of sandwiches that each come with their own dip.
After working for years as a chef in restaurants across the city and spending the last three as a private chef, Lucas was ready to open his own shop. And it just so happened that his wife, Stacey Welton, who owns Cold Tea Bar, had the available space.
“I’ve always wanted to open a sandwich shop,” says Lucas. “With the space available for a perfect takeout location, after a bit of brainstorming, I decided it was time to do it and pulled the trigger.”
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The timing for Hot Dip was great too, says Lucas, with so many people currently eating takeout. “I saw it as an opportune time to try a new concept.”
Along with the French Dip, the menu also features the restaurant’s namesake, the Hot Dip, which is a variation on the classic sandwich but with a pretzel bun and a sharp, mustardy cheddar dip. Other sandwiches include a chicken parm with alfredo dip, and, as a vegetarian option, a pastrami-spiced portobello with sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and a Russian dressing dip.
While Hot Dip’s menu currently features only four sandwiches, Lucas feels this allows him to ensure each item is perfect before sending it out. “I’ve always been of the mind that it’s better to have a smaller menu with things that are fresh and the best they can be,” he says.
Lucas is hoping to add some sandwich specials to the menu that will change every day or two. This week, Hot Dip is getting a soft serve machine that will bring the fun of dipping to desserts with hot fudge or brown butter caramel dip on a flaky cookie sandwich.
“Everyone loves dipping,” he says.
Hot Dip is located in Cold Tea Bar at 1186 Queen Street West and is available for pick-up from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. every Wednesday to Sunday.