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Restaurants

Rose City Kitchen

Posted by Liora Ipsum / Profiled on February 20, 2014 / review policy

Rose City Kitchen TorontoRose City Kitchen is a newly opened Middle Eastern snack bar on Queen at Spadina. Occupying the tiny corner lot once home to The Big Fish, the new fast food joint takes its name from the rose-coloured rock city of Petra.

The compact interior offers only 15 seats upfront, while at the back the lunch counter offers a glimpse of the stone oven and production line. White subway tiles line one wall and face a monochromatic mural of the old city in Jordan.

Rose City KitchenDistinguishing itself from old school falafel and donair joints, this spot is focused on top notch ingredients, and every snack is made from scratch. Most impressively, the mini pitas are baked in the stone oven throughout the day from custom made, par-baked dough.

Rose City Kitchen TorontoThe menu, developed by Shontelle Pinch of Gourmet Bitches food truck, blurs the borders of street foods from Morocco to Egypt. The lineup of sandwiches, poutines and salads can be customized with a choice of four proteins: chicken ($4), steak ($4.50), falafel ($3.50) or halloumi ($5). There are five pita pockets to choose from, each sold in half moons making it easy to mix and match.

Rose City KitchenSandwich styles include the Greek (dressed in tzatziki, village salad, cabbage, lettuce and shredded halloumi), the Lebanese (stuffed with garlic sauce, pickles and lettuce), the Moroccan (couscous, red onions, tomatoes, almonds, apricots, parsley and chickpeas), and the Egyptian (confit eggplant babaganoush, dates and salad).

Rose City KitchenThe signature sandwich is the RCK Original, a pocket loaded with Jordanian-style hummus, tabouleh, fries, carrots, lettuce, garlic oil and cherry harissa. I'm a big fan of the harissa, a roasted red pepper condiment that's smoky, sweet and spicy all at once. For extra spiciness, rose water-scented hot sauce is available from squirt bottles on the side.

Rose City KitchenPoutine ($6) starts with excellent crisp fries that are drizzled with hummus, tabouleh and shredded halloumi. A choice of any protein (+$1-$2.50) can take the dish from snack territory to the realm of a complete meal.

Rose City Kitchen is open daily for lunch, dinner and late night snacking. Ambitious plans for expansion mean that these modern falafel shops could soon boast multiple outlets citywide.

Rose City KitchenPhotos by Jesse Milns

Discussion

34 Comments

taco tuesdays. / February 20, 2014 at 10:53 am
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In a word, no.
meh / February 20, 2014 at 10:55 am
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We have all these places simply because there is a bigger middle eastern population in Toronto than there is Latin.

Hence more falafals.
Harry Issa. / February 20, 2014 at 10:55 am
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Couldnt agree more about harissa!!

Probably the best spice out there.
jalodge / February 20, 2014 at 10:58 am
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This looks gwompy.
Bobbie Dooley / February 20, 2014 at 11:31 am
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The cropped Canada Goose jackets paired with jeans tucked into designer work boots has got to stop. Please try harder.
lol / February 20, 2014 at 11:42 am
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these actually look great and are well priced.... why are you people complaining?
Cyril Sneer replying to a comment from lol / February 20, 2014 at 11:47 am
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Agreed. $4.00 is a great price and they look just about as good as any other falafal (and I eat them a lot!)
agreed. replying to a comment from Bobbie Dooley / February 20, 2014 at 11:55 am
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Speaking of...

People need to stop wearing those god damn bright yellow Timberland/Construction boot things.

How on earth are those even considered remotely fashionable?

And how does one look in the mirror on the way out the door and think "ya...i really pulled it off today"
Airick / February 20, 2014 at 12:26 pm
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But seriously why isn't Canada playing PK Subban, he's the best D on the team. racist bastards.
Bryce / February 20, 2014 at 12:27 pm
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It's great to have a downtown falafel place that doesn't pre-cook the falafel balls. Looks aws!
Brian / February 20, 2014 at 12:28 pm
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yay another f-kn shawarma/falffal place to add to the already 1000s in the city
Bobbie Dooley Needs Help / February 20, 2014 at 12:29 pm
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I know I shouldn't be surprised, but continually am, by how the blogto comment board has become a place for angry people to take out their frustrations in their own lives on anything and everything they can.

I mean, really? You feel the need to comment on someone's wardrobe? Give me a break. Who gives a shit?

The food looks great, the prices seem totally fair and I look forward to trying it.
Gonzo / February 20, 2014 at 12:51 pm
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Bhan Mi Boys meets Sarah's Shwarma. Sounds delicious.
Liam replying to a comment from Bryce / February 20, 2014 at 01:27 pm
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YES! I'm always so disappointed when I go into a falafel joint and see pre-cooked falafel balls just sitting around.
BillyO / February 20, 2014 at 01:35 pm
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Food looks good and prices seem reasonable, looking forward to check it out. Nice little hub of quick lunch spots there with Burgers Priest, Saffron, Banh Mi and now this
TONY! replying to a comment from agreed. / February 20, 2014 at 02:04 pm
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Speaking of. Quit telling others how they should look and what they should wear, no one said any of the above was fashionable or supposed to be fashionable but agreed and Bobbie Dooley. How says the person wearing is trying to be a cutting edge fashionista?
Disappointed / February 20, 2014 at 03:21 pm
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I tend to give new food joints a break in their opening week as there are always teething problems. But this place was disorganized to the *extreme* today.

They basically messed up everything to do with my order. (I ordered a falafel and they made me a chicken instead. I didn't realize it until I got home. It was for my boyfriend, who is a vegeterian.) And from the looks of it, I wasn't the only one. While they were making my order, I saw a guy having to walk back in with his take-out order because they forgot to make half of his order.

Their line system is messed up. I had to repeat my order 5 times, to 4 different people. And they still managed to get it wrong. I think the music might be too loud, because none of the girls behind the counter seem to be able to hear patrons properly.

I ate my boyfriend's sandwich in the end. If it is any consolation, it was tasty.
heyoh replying to a comment from TONY! / February 20, 2014 at 03:30 pm
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uh oh...sounds like we have a Timberland boot wearer in the house!!
ya replying to a comment from Disappointed / February 20, 2014 at 03:32 pm
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I find most falafal/schwarma places are all very disorganized.

No rhyme or reason usually to the ordering rules. Workers doing multiple things at once.

Its a cluster fuck at the majority of these places, but somehow they pull it off
Ryan / February 20, 2014 at 03:45 pm
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Since, with only a few exceptions like Akram's, downtown Toronto has pitiful schwarma I was really looking forward to trying out this place. I had the Moroccan chicken today and it was really quite good! That said, at $4.50 (w/tax) for HALF A SMALL PITA that was finished in 4-5 bites, the portions are pitifully small and I really don't think I'll be a repeat customer.

Unless they change their pricing/portion sizes, they are not going to last a year considering the proximity to other 'quality' fast food options in the area. I'd like to see them thrive, but I can't justify repeat visits on account of the small schwarma 'sliders' portions they offer (at full size pricing).
Freyjalll replying to a comment from Disappointed / February 20, 2014 at 04:00 pm
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Places like to play LOUD music to keep patrons for lingering, it seems. But these guys are having the notion bite them back. I'll stay clear of this chick pea hut until they get their act together.
Cbab / February 20, 2014 at 07:02 pm
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Tried them yesterday. It's nothing spectacular, but it's not bad either. Had my first taste of harissa, and I liked it. I wouldn't go out of my way to eat here again, but there are way worse options nearby. Time will tell if the model works out. Restaurants are a fickle business.

Bob loblaws replying to a comment from Cbab / February 20, 2014 at 07:28 pm
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U can buy Harissa at loblaws. No need to go there to get your fix
Looter / February 20, 2014 at 08:17 pm
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Poutine without gravy isn't poutine. Tasty meat. I will try again with the pitas - but I like my pitas packed - not tiny.
Cbab replying to a comment from Bob loblaws / February 20, 2014 at 10:24 pm
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Oh I know. But the advantage in this case is that I know what it tastes like now, and I spent significantly less to do so (on the side order anyways). :)
Lauren / February 21, 2014 at 03:13 pm
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I really enjoyed my lunch here, and have already been back more than once in the short time they have been open. As a super picky eater, I usually have something negative to point out.. I don't in RCK case. Their ingredients are super fresh, the pita is baked in front of you, and the staff is very friendly. Have patience guys, it is a new place so line ups and sometimes mishaps can happen! Geez, tough crowd.

Have a great weekend everyone, and give this place a try!
Hopeful / February 24, 2014 at 08:46 pm
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I think the puny size of the sandwiches will be a stumbling block for this business. It's a shame, because honestly, the sandwiches taste amazing. I've been twice and tried three kinds so far. The first time I went, I had one and went hungry for the rest of the afternoon. The second time, I bought two, and enjoyed them thoroughly and also had the halloumi poutine for good measure. (I didn't starve that time.)

Since they bake their own pita pockets on the premises, there's no reason not to offer a larger size. (It's not like their supplier only makes a certain size or whatever.) Apart from the sandwich size and the need to keep repeating one's order over and over again to the different people behind the bar (someone else mentioned this above), the food is tasty, unique in its use of spices and sauces, and not too greasy. I'm interested to see how long this place will last -- hopefully for a long while!
jeff / February 26, 2014 at 09:29 am
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I agree with the comments about the value. I thought the taste was great but I felt like a "half" was too small. The pitas are small already so a half is pretty small. I would rather have a full size even if just stuffed with lettuce and the "main" ingredients were just bumped up a bit. They should seriously consider this or making the pita larger and then splitting in half.

Having said all of that, it is worth a try. Expect line ups (they are working out the kinks on the cash/etc.. I think they need to do more training about the possible "issues" that can come up with staff before they put them live in front of customers).
Bill / February 26, 2014 at 08:49 pm
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Every time I miss Toronto I read the comments here. It's ok to be curious and optimistic about new things. When did hipsters become dirty old grandpa?
Jessica / March 10, 2014 at 04:20 pm
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Went here for lunch today. Portion size is great and at an affordable price. The pita's are freshly made and taste delicious. Staff is friendly and service is quick. Poutine was a little bland for me, as it lacked seasoning. But other than that, would definitely go back for more!
Katarina / March 10, 2014 at 04:21 pm
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The pitas were really delicious, i had the RK Original it is priced perfectly for the portion size. For sure worth a try, I recommend it for a lunch spot!
However the poutine was lacking some kick, maybe more salt or spice.
Mary / March 17, 2014 at 10:24 am
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Great food that reasonably priced. One big problem though... they've messed up my order the two times I've been there. The first time they forgot about my order...had to wait 15 minutes only to find out my order was forgotten about. The second time around I ordered Moroccan pita for take out, only to realize back at work that there was chicken in my pita... couldn't have it because I'm a vegetarian. They're disorganized and not focused, sort of disappointing.
Hmm replying to a comment from Mary / March 25, 2014 at 12:50 am
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Similar experience...this restaurant is so disorganized. They've been open more than a month and still have all kinds of issues with the basics of taking someone's food order. I shouldn't have to repeat my order 5 times to different people. And when I repeat it so many times, I expect them to make it correctly...not forget half my order (which I only realized once I got home).

Insanely tasty food...but c'mon, that's no excuse for amateurish service.
FS / April 23, 2014 at 08:12 am
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The pitas were good but not mind blowing. The woman at the front who appeared to be the owner was harsh with her staff...and rather rude with us too. A little polishing in the customer service area starting at the top would have made this a great experience. Wiling to go back though and support a local business. Good luck!

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