I’ve loved a lot of men in my time, but never the way I’ve loved a really good sandwich.

I’m not talking about a cold coffee shop grab-and-go number either, but a warm sandwich with a side of golden fries and a creamy little scoop of coleslaw. The sort of thing you find in mom and pop diners or highway truck stops. Not cheap fast food, but affordable everyman’s food.

The downtown foodie craze of years past, and the ensuing gentrification, has left us bereft of this sort of experience, save for Zachary’s and its best kept secret status for breakfasts. Up and coming chef Amy Anthony saw this niche open, and filled it with offerings that take the best of this cooking style and marry it to ninja level hipster chef skills.

Last May, Anthony was looking for work after completing the first season of Frontier. Her company Bite Me Catering (co-owned with Hillary Vatcher) had gotten the contract for craft services, what us laypeople call “feeding the crew,” but with that done, the future was wide open. Around the same time, The Ship began its search for a new cook.

Anthony’s diverse background, including 8 years at The Sprout, 2 years at Mallard Cottage, and stints at Atlantica and B & B Snack Bar, made her the obvious choice. A chef who can drain a deep fryer, butcher a pig, turn pallid chunks of tofu into mouthwatering delights, and identify mushrooms correctly in the wild, is only slightly rarer than a unicorn, to be snapped up immediately.

Anthony was given free rein to design her own weekly menu,while keeping such crowd pleasers as the cod au gratin and fish and chips constant. “I like to create things at The Ship with equal balance; I know what the regulars expect, but I also know how to create a menu to get bums in seats within the budget and means from which this kitchen offers.”

Each week she creates a chalkboard of specials which have become one of the hottest instagrams in town to be tagged in. Round about June, whispers started that there was something special happening in The Ship kitchen. By mid fall, it had become prudent to get down by Thursday if there was an item on “the board” you really wanted to try. It might be sold out by Friday.

Standouts over the months have included salt meat grilled cheese sandwiches, chicken and waffles with buttermilk biscuits, pork belly banh mi’s, and Hawkins Cheezies mac and cheese. The Codcos, a duo of crispy cod tacos and homage to the iconic Newfoundland comedy troupe, went viral on the internet after local actors began posting about it.

Bob’s Burgers has nothing on her witty burger specials, often stuffed with cheese or topped with a house made pickle or relish. Stunning presentation and pints of local beer available, as well as The Ship’s entertaining staff, create an atmosphere so warm and welcoming you will forget they took the woodstove out of the bar a few years back.

Anthony explains the ego-free, positive vibe she strives to create.“I don’t have a kitchen table in my tiny apartment so it’s a way to see and feed my friends. Ultimately we aren’t saving lives as cooks, we are making delicious food. Leave the hate, make it great.”

Asked her kitchen mantra, she responds, “No matter what kitchen I work in, it is an extension of myself. I respect it, give 150%, learn and teach.” She pauses, and finishes “Oh god, I am a communist chef!”

Photo by Joel Upshall for The Overcast