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Posts Tagged ‘Middle Eastern’

Reservations aren’t usually necessary during the week, but they are a good idea. Like many low-key Montreal restos, it doesn’t look like much from the outside, and it doesn’t look like much inside the spartan brick interior. Fortunately, the food speaks louder than anything else and some nights, when the lighting is just right and gently glowing off of the water and wine glasses, it can be a very low-key, romantic establishment.

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There might be a quicker way to get to the food court underneath the Tour Scotia, but I usually enter through the revolving doors of the Scotia Bank skyscraper, walk straight through the open lobby of the bank, and take the small escalator down to the underground area.

There’s Asian stir fry-to-order, Arabic chicken shawarma (often called shish taouk in Montreal), burgers, and a Subway counter just around the corner. The food court gets very quiet during the summer, some shops even close down, but can be busy with long lines. Akli does shawarma and generous stew plates, and has coffee carafes filled with hot mint tea by the register. My juicy chicken shawarma included a lot of lettuce, hummus, and tomato and was wrapped in paper then heated in a panini press, which made it warm throughout but kept the pita soft. I don’t usually tip at counters, but there was a young kid helping out, so I dropped in a loonie. This is the sort of lunch food court that is convenient because of location and it’s right across the street from McGill.

Metro: McGill

Tour Scotia, 1000 Rue Sherbrooke Ouest and Rue Mansfield

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On a cold, slushy evening we went to this small Syrian resto before we went to see a movie at the nearby Cinema du Parc. No reservations were needed and we were seated right away. Like many low-key Montreal restos, it doesn’t look like much from the outside, and it doesn’t look like much on the spartan brick interior. Fortunately, the food speaks louder than anything else.

The menu is available in both English and French. We ordered three cold mezzes: baba ghannouj, labneh – which I kept mistaking for a very creamy hummus – and beet mutabbal, – a beet puree which is apparently one of their specialties. They look exactly like the pictures online and are very tasty. The small dishes were served with a plastic bag-encased basket of naan which smelled fresh and faintly buttery. I spooned out the mezzes onto my plate and scooped them up with small pieces of the naan. Then came our two meat dishes, Jarret d’agneau grillé avec oignons et tomates, nappé d’une sauce tahini  et yogourt, and a dish with little sausages and potatoes that I didn’t care for since I don’t often enjoy sausage. The lamb was falling off the bone and a wonderful collage of yogurt, parsley, and red onion smothered and enhanced it. I even tried digging out some of bone marrow. It was one hot dish too many for two people; next time we’ll order rice instead.

The whole place felt very real and authentic, though it was decorated like any other Montreal resto. We were treated to live music, a man playing simple ethnic-sounding tunes on a guitar-like instrument. A nearby table of what looked like middle aged regulars sang along to some of the songs he played and cheered after every set. Service was efficient, though perhaps the music made it hard for the server to take our orders. We finished the meal with house-made baklava and espresso. I don’t take coffee with dinner, but drank the extra one that we were given, much to my later regret. It was good coffee, just not what I had wanted.

With only a couple of Middle Eastern restos in Montreal under our belts, we are hardly experts on the local representation of the cuisine. However, this is one of the better ones that we’ve tried and we shall indeed be coming again.

Metro: Mont-Royal (though it’s really not that close)

4629 Avenue du Parc and Rue Villeneuve Ouest

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