Cinderella Restaurant serves scratch-made Middle Eastern classics like falafel and shawarma for rock bottom prices, right out of a takeout restaurant that's practically inside a subway station.
Apparently it’s so named because it really is something of a Cinderella story, the owners having opened the restaurant after moving here from Syria.
The confines of the space are small but a hot table is in clear view, and there’s one four-person table in a main area as well as a bar with high seating that looks out on a northbound bus stop.
I recommend the falafel, for sheer value if not for the crispy, slightly oily delicious chickpea balls fried to a golden brown, $6.99 for a plate and only $3.99 for a sandwich.
For the plate, I get the falafel on a bed of rice with little bits of noodle in it. Hummus and an addictively-potent garlic sauce are heaped on the side, a little tahini dressing the falafel. All sauces are made in-house except the ketchup and mayo.
All that’s revealed to me about the shawarma is that a fresh new cone of meat is layered on the spit every single day; marinades and preparation remain a closely guarded secret.
I can see why: shawarma ($8.99 for a plate, $5.49 for a sandwich) is caramelized and fragrant, spices permeated deep into the dense meat. House hot sauce on this is just a little fiery and totally lovable, a base of yummy yellow garlic rice for this plate.
A healthy dose of house pickles is mandatory with either of these items. While I’m in the shop a customer professes his love of pickles in general and these especially—and I have to agree with him.
Briny and so strong they’re almost hot, the pickles are cut into uneven strips so you can modulate the acidity of your meal.
Fries ($2.99) feel a little tossed off but are a must-have for a side at a place like this. I wouldn’t be shy about asking for some of that shawarma piled high on top of these.
Lentil soup is also $2.99 and seems like it could be an equally random side, but it has a surprising depth of flavour: rich and complex, topped with a little crushed dried pepper.
Kebah are a snack item, the crusty exterior breaking to reveal a soft interior of ground beef, onion and bulgur.
One visit and I already know my next order: falafel or shawarma on yellow garlic rice, hold the hummus and double up on that garlic sauce, double pickles, no lettuce.