THE SCHNITZEL QUEEN (237 Queen East, at Sherbourne, 416-861-9793) Complete meals for $10 per person, including all taxes and tip. Average main $5.75. Open Monday to Thurday 11 am to 6 pm, Friday 11 am to 4 pm, but call ahead. Unlicensed. Access: barrier free, no public bathroom. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Maybe the only thing shorter than the menu at this no-friller is its three-stool counter. But that's not a problem for most subjects of the Schnitzel Queen, who come here for a schnitzel sandwich to go.
The schnitzel sandwich is really just an east-end cousin of the Italian sandwich. Instead of tomato sauce and peppers you get more of a schnitzel-burger, with fixings like tomato, lettuce and ketchup. Instead of veal you get pork ($5.45), chicken ($5.75) or turkey ($6.30).
The cutlet itself is a model of hot-oil crispiness. If you don't want a sandwich, order a schnitzel plate with side options like potato salad ($5.45). The potato salad features small pieces of potato, green and red peppers and a lot of garlic suspended in a dominant, thick mayonnaise-based dressing.
It spreads out beside the schnitzel like a large oil-and-potato quagmire, and is a bit of a puzzle unless you use it as a sauce for the otherwise unadorned schnitzel - the two are great together.
The only other items on the menu the day I was there were a fish stick special for $5 (how many other restos can claim that?) and a chicken soup ($4.25), a fairly standard bowl of chicken and vegetables made notable by its large amount of breast meat.
Dessert is limited to charmless apple and cherry pie ($2.50).
Judging by the owner's guarded attitude and the no-public-bathroom policy, the Schnitzel kingdom of Sherbourne and Queen can be a tough place.
But the stuffed animals, decorative placemats and soap-opera soundtrack make it a no-nonsense outpost of homeyness.
And the schnitzel sandwich makes it worth a visit.