At Toronto’s Kapital Restaurant & Grill, only one person knows how to make the secret sauce that covers a steak, ham, sausage, egg, and cheese sandwich.
The Francesinha sandwich is a matter of international secrecy. Ask any chef who makes it what goes into its mysterious sauce and you will probably be met with suspicion and scorn.
What is known about the Francesinha, however, is that sausage, steak, ham, and melted cheese sit between two pieces of toast, which are then topped with a fried egg. That huge mound of protein is then coated in an enigmatic sauce and, as if you could possibly need more sustenance, is served with generous heaps of French fries. It looks like a cross between a croque madame and something from a George Romero film—but, when it’s properly executed, it can also be surprisingly complex and an unparalleled drinking food.
Inside Toronto’s Kapital Restaurant and Grill, nobody has been granted high enough security clearance by chef Paula Silva to know what goes inside the sauce, not even owner Josue Eusebio. Instead, Silva closely guards the sauce production; she makes it in the evenings when nobody else is around—and Eusebio is totally fine with that.
“Believe it or not—I’m the owner of the restaurant, she’s my chef—but she’s the only one who knows the secret of this sauce,” he says. “I don’t know. I don’t ask her how she does it, because that’s her secret, alright? That’s how it is.” Undeterred, I ask Silva what makes the unctuous orangey sauce so special. “The secret? That’s a secret!” she laughs. “I keep it a secret because it’s my work and too many people stole the sauce.”
I definitely need parts of this damn secret sandwich, sweet jesus.