Introducing: Rose City Kitchen, the first location of Toronto’s new Middle Eastern snack bar chain
Name: Rose City Kitchen
Neighbourhood: Queen West
Contact Info: 406 Queen St. W., rosecitykitchen.com, @RoseCityKitchen
Owners: Shontelle Pinch, co-owner of the Gourmet Bitches food truck, and Nipun Sharma, who created the Tandoori restaurant franchise
Chef: Shontelle Pinch
The Food: Five Mediterranean-style sandwiches, each served in a piping-hot pita and named after a different Mediterranean nation. The Moroccan, for instance, comprises couscous, cabbage, almonds, apricots, chickpeas and house-made harissa, plus a choice of protein (co-owner and chef Shontelle Pinch recommends halloumi cheese). The Egyptian comes stuffed with eggplant confit, chickpeas, dates and garlic oil. It pairs well with braised beef, which is cooked in the kitchen’s hot stone oven. Also on the menu: fermented veggies, a kale salad and three Middle Eastern-inspired poutines, including one topped with falafel balls and hummus.
The Place: The sunny space at the corner of Queen West and Cameron streets is a welcome addition to the burger-crowded strip. The room has 15 seats and whitewashed brick walls, one of which is plastered with a 12-foot-tall photograph of Petra, the archeological city in Jordan. In the open kitchen, a red-tiled stone oven fires out 300 pitas a day (customers can watch the pockets expand as they place their orders). This location is the first outlet in a soon-to-expand Rose City chain. The second location is slated to open this spring at Yonge and King, and a third is also in the works.
• 300 pitas pulled daily from a roaring hot oven
• 12-foot vintage photograph of Petra, the archeological city in Jordan
• 6 months to renovate
• 3 house-made hot sauces, including the Cherry Harissa, which is made with stone-ground cherries
• 1 of three Rose City Kitchen locations opening in 2014