Famous Laffa (Yonge St.)
Famous Laffa has opened its first franchised location on Yonge St. just south of Steeles. It's a two storey joint where the kitchen and takeout counter operate on the main floor, while a bar and dining room are just up the stairs.
Unlike the original location on Magnetic Dr. (formerly the original Dr. Laffa before the partners split) the new outpost isn't kosher. The menu differs slightly, offering a greater range of grilled meats, and once the liquor license is approved, an expanded bar menu. It won't close for Shabbat either, meaning you can get your laffa fix on a Friday night or Saturday.
Service is informal; you can order at the counter and wait around to specify how you'd like your sandwich dressed, you can seat yourself in the dining room and wait for your food to be run up, or order through the wait staff.
Complimentary Turshi, a mix of yellow-stained pickled cabbage, cauliflower and apple arrives to the table first and is followed by hummus loaded with shawarma ($10.99, top photo) and sumac-dusted onions. These are lovely together, and I like how the pickles offer a tart, sour counterpoint to the creamy chickpea dip and salty bits of meat.
The whole grilled eggplant ($6.99) drizzled with tahini and sprinkled with parsley arrives with the unexpected addition (not pictured on the menu) of chopped tomatoes. It's not a welcome surprise and only serves to detract from what I know needs only a squirt of lemon to accentuate the sweetness of the eggplant.
The falafel sandwich wrapped in laffa ($6.99) is humongous. The bread here is baked in an automated machine rather than a traditional taboon, but it is indeed fresh and fluffy.
Slathered with hummus and dressed with fresh lettuce, cabbage slaw, marinated carrots, tahini and hot sauce, my sandwich is loaded with falafel balls and cubes of delicious and sweet fried eggplant before being wrapped into one enormous sandwich that is mercifully cut in half so that it's easy to share.
The falafel balls are very large, but this isn't a positive attribute in my mind. The exteriors aren't nearly as crisp as I'd like, and the centres are dense and mushy rather than joyously fluffy.
It's yet to be seen if this franchise model can uphold the same standards and quality as the original location (which arguably isn't as good as Dr. Laffa already). Clearly suppliers differ, and they're taking liberties with the recipes for better or worse.
Photos by Jesse Milns