Schnitzeland opened just over a year ago, straddling the 416/905 divide on the north side of Steeles west of Yonge. With a focused menu living up to their schnitzelized name, this mostly takeout spot draws influences from Austria, Hungary, Denmark and Russia, so leave your lederhosen at home.
Owner Rita runs the front of house service counter while her husband holds court in the small kitchen. Having just operated Juicy Olive Bar and Grill in Woodbridge, the couple was eager to cook food that was comfortable, accessible and tasty. As schnitzel was a staple in their respective Eastern European upbringings, it was a deliciously logical path to pursue for the new venture. Renovating the space after a Filipino restaurant closed, they wisely added bathrooms and more seating to their corner unit in a busy strip mall plaza.
While Schnitzels are the main reason to check this place out, the sides and starters are solid as well. Perogies ($7.95) come in many a variety of preparations (including dessert). We try the potato cheddar version, which arrive blistering hot, topped with fresh herbs, buttery fried onions and a side of sour cream. Made from scratch, these pillowy pockets are addictive and extremely filling.
Goulash Soup ($6.50) arrives in similar form, tongue burning-hot and with more sour cream and green garnish. The scent of caraway seeds and paprika permeate the meaty broth, studded with potatoes and carrots cooked perfectly such that they keep their shape and texture.
Side salads come in shareable bowls, and we sampled all seven. The standouts are the fried eggplant, Israeli and cucumber salads.
Schnitzels come in veal, chicken or eggplant and in seven clever variations to suit curious palates. All come with a hot side and a salad, which we opted to share family style. Straight up Wiener Schnitzel ($12.50 for veal), comes pounded flat, breaded and golden fried to near perfection, with a single lemon wedge garnish. While definitely for the less adventurous, the veal was a straight up version of a classic schnitzel, served on a bed of chewy spaetzle, which were jaw dropping good.
Jaeger schnitzel ($13.50 for veal) is slathered in a heavy mushroom red wine gravy, with hunks of bacon adding a dose of salt and fat to this already weighty dish.
Departing from the standard schnitzels, the Sesame schnitzel ($12.95 for chicken) was gobsmacking good. A breaded chicken cutlet receives the same special treatment as the veal schnitzels but doubles down with an eggplant schnitzel resting on top like a crowning achievement. Doused in tahini and fragrant zaatar, this schnitzel marries two different cultures into one bountiful plate.
With a motto like "Let's get Schnitzelized," you can bet a liquor licence is in the works, as about the only thing missing from this meal was a beer-filled glass boot. Pop ($1.50) and coffee ($1.50) are the only thirst quenchers on the menu so far.
Schnitzeland offers delivery in to the area around the restaurant.