Sandy Aleksander

  Photo:   Matt Forsythe

Party bites and prepped meals, charcuterie, cheese and chocolate — indeed, all essential food groups are covered off at Sandy Aleksander.

The fine food emporium landed on Queen East in 2013 and changed hands with a new direction a year later by owners Max Ryan and William Hubacheck. Since then, it has become synonymous with specialty food in Leslieville.

  Photo:   Matt Forsythe

It's hard not to be competely enthralled after stepping inside this shop, and even if you don't know sharp gruyere from Kraft singles, Sandy Aleksander is bound to help you bring out your inner epicure.

Large windows along the Queen East storefront let natural light pour into a clean, modern space that dazzles with tantalizing displays of sweet and savoury gourmet food stuffs.

  Photo:   Matt Forsythe

The shop's open concept means the atmosphere is as lively as its presentation. Customers can look on as their salami is sliced or ask questions about the store's selection of fine chocolate. In fact, pointing through the glass display cases at the name of a funky-looking cheese you're unfamiliar with will likely spark a passionate conversation about its origin and taste, what it's best paired with, along with a quick sample to bring it all together.

  Photo:   Matt Forsythe

The hands-on approach at Sandy Aleksander means you learn a thing or two about the delectable food you're eating and walk away feeling confident about your purchase. Their passion is contagious, and you may even have a few tricks to show off at your next dinner party.

  Photo:   Matt Forsythe

While some of the shop's items come from far-flung locations, much of what is featured is as sourced as locally as possible. Sandy Aleksander brings in prosciutto from Niagara and salami from Woodbridge, for instance, and they also bring in pates and rilettes from Quebec. Much of the impressive cheese selection hails from regions in Quebec, while the chocolate, a luxurious delicacy at the shop, is made by local Toronto artisanal chocolatier Laura Slack

  Photo:   Matt Forsythe

Sandy Aleksander is equally well known for its choice selection of prepared and ready-to-cook meals that are made right in the store and make for an easy gourmet dinner. Choose between best-sellers like chicken, turkey sausage or meat loaf and pair with roasted root vegetables or several soups and stews. Three-cheese veggie lasagna is also a up there, and the mac and cheese with double-smoked bacon is a decadent favourite of the store. 

  Photo:   Matt Forsythe

The shop also stocks local jams, jellies, antipasto, sauces and preserves, and can lay out plenty of options for party platters of cheese, charcuterie, fruit and bread depending on the occasion.

  Photo:   Matt Forsythe

MUST-TRY: The ready-made mac and cheese with double-smoked bacon is as decadent as it gets, and after one bite you'll see why it's one of Sandy Aleksander's top sellers. Creamy cheese oozes with just enough of a crust and bacon goodness in every bite.

Read our LOCALS profile with co-owner Max Ryan.

1183 Queen St. E
sandyaleksander.ca