Rose City Kitchen is the food truck offshoot of the Queen West falafel and pita spot of the same name. It’s also Gourmet Bitches, a gluten-free food truck with an eclectic menu and tons of attitude.
Confused? So was I – until owner Shontelle Pinch pulled the Rose City Kitchen sign off the side of the truck, revealing the Gourmet Bitches logo underneath, Clark Kent-style. “(Gourmet Bitches) never goes anywhere – when I want to do the changing, I just take the slides out,” she says.
The truck launched under its original, in-your-face moniker in 2012, when Pinch hit the road with a rotating menu that ranged from the gluttonous to the health-conscious, with a selection of gluten-free eats (Pinch herself doesn’t eat gluten).
The truck soon became a favourite in the city’s burgeoning food truck scene, toting fresh offerings like ceviche, yam fries and garlicky kale salads to events town. But when a team behind a new Middle Eastern spot asked Pinch to use Gourmet Bitches to do some exposure for the restaurant, it soon took the truck in a new direction.
“It turned into a partnership. They said, we see your potential, we’d love to have you be part of what we are going to do. It was that quick. It was ‘why not do both’?”
She adds that the concept of a falafel shop with an upscale twist appealed to her. “We had a milion falafel places, but … everyone thought of it as greasy little independent falafel shops that people just go to when they’re drinking. This was a gourmet version of that.”
Pinch came on board, creating the menu found at both the brick-and-mortar restaurant and the food truck. Now, you’ll find the truck wearing its Rose City Kitchen hat for most of its lunchtime services.
The Rose City menu features pita sandwiches with a variety of toppings: the Egyptian, topped with eggplant confit; the Greek, which incorporates tzatziki and veggies; and the Moroccan, which is packed with flavour thanks to harissa, almonds, apricots and chickpeas. Finish with your choice of chicken, steak or falafel balls.
Gourmet Bitches fans can still find the truck’s original incarnation at events around Toronto, where you can grab a Bitch Mac (their version of a Big Mac, obviously), dry-rubbed chicken wings, or gluten-free fish tacos.
But for now, it looks like Rose City Kitchen has some growing to do, with a series of brick-and-mortar concepts on the way; a new Rose City location will open this fall in the Financial District, sharing space with Smash, a brand-new juice bar, and a coffee shop called Clockwork. It’s safe to say Pinch has a lot on her plate.