If the interior décor of Sawhorse — plenty of wood, deep pine-green walls and leather upholstery, cans and jugs of maple syrup and maps of the Adirondacks — doesn’t give away owner/chef Dan Silo’s roots in upstate New York and travels through Canada and New England, his menu will. Heavy on the meat and potatoes from breakfast through dinner and weekend brunch, it includes regional Yankee favorites such as poutine, brown bread, braised cabbage, meat pie, pub sausage, Maine mussel chowder, scrapple and seemingly ubiquitous maple syrup.
But it’s the virtually unknown-in-these-parts peameal bacon sandwich that sends visiting Canadians who happen upon the Leicester Highway diner-esque restaurant into a swoon, especially when they find out it’s the real deal. “We usually have to explain what it is,” Silo admits. “But I’ve had several Canadians come in and be absolutely over the moon that we have it on the menu and superpsyched we do it the old-school way.”
Old-school goes way back to the St. Lawrence Market in Toronto, where the practice of butchers packing their pork loin in peameal to ship across the country resulted in someone’s aha moment that the crust that ensued was pretty darn tasty when the pork was sliced, fried and put on a bun.
Silo, a peameal bacon sandwich purist, accepts no substitutes. “These days, lots of places, even in Canada, use cornmeal, but we do peameal. It’s nuttier and earthier,” he says.
He pulls loins out of the whole pigs he gets from Colfax Creek Farm in Bostic, brines them for five days, then rolls them in peameal he has milled from dried, Canadian yellow split peas at Farm & Sparrow and lets the crust develop for 24 hours. “We slice it thin, griddle it, put it on a homemade roll, add pickled onion and Dijon mustard. It’s one of the best things ever.”