Unless you’re a wealthy retiree who has the luxury of taking three hour lunches in choice restaurants, or someone who can expense your sumptuous repast, lunch is often a dull, uninspired means of sustaining you throughout the day until the real hero meal arrives: dinner.
As much as chains keep trying to entice us with their healthy bowls and protein-packed boxes, (1 out of 10 are actually enticing), lunch, especially during the workweek, is usually fine. Okay. Not bad. But by no means memorable.
I’m setting out to change all that with my new series, Lunch Revolution.
The regular feature will showcase an eatery or menu item that actually rocks. And it won’t set you back 30 bucks either.
Lunch Revolution #1
Eggplant Wrap ($6.50 + tax)
1225 Queen St. E.
Middle Eastern fare is a great choice for your mid-day meal for two reasons:
1. Often the choices are healthy enough that you can feel good about your selection.
2. It’s hearty enough that you won’t be scrounging around desk drawers in search of a protein bar come three o’clock.
But as you know, not all shawarma are created equally.
Enter Shish, located at the corner of Queen East and Leslie in the city’s east-end.
An eggplant wrap is surprisingly not a common menu item in downtown Toronto Middle Eastern eateries, so it’s an easy shift from the usual go-tos: beef or chicken. Especially when it’s this well executed.
The star of the show of course, is eggplant - a wildly divisive ingredient abhorred by many because, like brussels sprouts, it’s frequently, sadly, over- or undercooked. Here, the nightshade vegetable is a long way from dry, soggy, tough or rubbery. It’s actually grilled – no fake “x” marks here (it happens more often than you’d think) - then cut into long strips.
Stuffed alongside a plethora of fresh and pickled veg, hummus, garlic sauce, and tabouli (for no extra charge, a rarity) in a fresh pita that’s grilled a good long time - imbuing a slight smokiness and crisp char finish – this tightly packed roll with heft is the lunch you’ve been waiting for.