Rose City Kitchen
Rose 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.
Distinguishing 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.
The 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.
Sandwich 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).
The 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.
Poutine ($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.
Photos by Jesse Milns