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Showing posts with label Halal. Show all posts

Fresh East


Fresh East is a new fast-casual sandwich shop from the growing Paramount Fine Foods chain. This is their third locations in Ontario, as there is one in London, and another at Erin Mills Town Centre in Mississauga. Their third branch is conveniently located on Yonge/Dundas; a busy district near the Eaton's Center, and Cineplex. Fresh East offers casual Middle Eastern inspired food at relatively affordable prices, and perfect for those on student budgets (as it's also near Ryerson). Like all of the Paramount chain restaurants, Fresh East caters to serving only halal-certified food. Halal is meat (excluding pork) that has been prepared according to Islamic guidelines. Although, they are a halal-certified restaurant, many of their menu items also cater to health-conscious diners as well.


Fresh East has positioned themselves as a quick-serve restaurant, and does not offer full-table service. Rather, they are more focused on providing high quality, and freshly prepared food. The halal sandwich shop simply occupies a small storefront where they only do take-out orders. Essentially, customers get a taste of the aromatic flavour of the Middle East with a mixture of Western influence (with the sauce, and toppings). It is here where customers are able to customize freshly baked sub or shawarma to their liking using only the freshest ingredients and toppings. All of their items are clearly displayed on the menu screen on the wall, and the toppings are openly display at the counter top area. Their menu items range from pitas, submarines, sandwich in a bowl, soup, salads, and breakfast. 







Similar to several submarine sandwich chains, customers can choose from either a 6 inch or foot long (12 inch) sub. They also have the option to change it to a wrap, or shawarma. The concept entails the customers having the ability to customize their sandwiches to their liking - from choosing the bread type, toppings, and sauces. I opted to try one of their submarine sandwiches, which are made with daily fresh-baked bread, and halal deli-fresh meat. The 6 inch sub starts at $4.29 on top of which you can add additional toppings. After going through the menu, I opted for the 12 inch turkey submarine ($7.89); an offering from their FreshEast Delight menu. For an additional $2.49, I made it a meal by adding a fountain drink with a bag of chips. The deli roast turkey style slices was good, and I liked that it wasn't loaded with sodium. Now, I didn't go crazy with my selection of toppings, and instead chose the bare minimum. However, I must say that the options available for the toppings, and sauces were pretty good in terms of variety. There are many ways that one can customize their sub and shawarma here. Overall, it was a solid submarine sandwich with a good amount of turkey slices, and filling.



J got the 12 inch roast beef ($7.29) as his choice of submarine sandwich, and also made it a meal for an additional $2.49. The amount of roast beef that they give you in the sub was abundant, and the sub itself was rather filling. The only thing that I wished that was done differently was that we weren't asked if we wanted the buns to be toasted, so it was left untoasted. That was a minor issue for us though, as we headed home, and re-heated the buns. Overall, I'd say that Fresh East is a great spot to grab a quick meal, as they offer a healthier alternative to the array of fast-food options in the area. 



Address: 334 Yonge St, Toronto ON, M5B 1R8

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Disclaimer: The food provided in this post was complimentary courtesy of Fresh East. However, all of the opinions expressed in this review are of my own.

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Black Ox Bistro

Black Ox Bistro is a restaurant in Scarborough offering modern halal cuisine with an elevated flair. The restaurant caters to serving halal-certified meat that are from HMA (Halal Monitoring Association) certified sources. It's not a requirement for me to eat halal, but I was invited a couple of weeks ago to check out what Black Ox Bistro had to offer. I found out that they do not only offer halal items, but there were veterinarian and gluten-free options as well. Black Ox Bistro opened to much interest in the Muslim community this past January. Given the long lines at the Toronto’s Halal Food Festival 2015, one could tell the restaurant has gained popularity for their take on mainstream style dining.  However, the food isn't just for those who require their meat to be halal-certified, as it's certainly for everyone who loves good food. 


Upon entering the establishment, it was clear that the management of Black Ox Bistro wanted to create a more upscale and relaxed environment. The dining room was spacious with a bar located at the front of the house where they make in-house mocktails. The reason for the sale of mocktails is because alcohol is not permitted in hahal establishments. 
 

I started the night off with an order of their most popular mocktails, the Pina Colada ($6) - pineapple juice, coconut cream, and crushed ice. It was a very refreshing drink with a strong hint of coconut, which I enjoyed.


 I was told by one of the servers that the flat bread was one of the most popular appetizers on the menu. However, I decided to opt for the bacon wrapped scallops after seeing pictures of it on my Instagram feed earlier that week. The bacon wrapped scallops ($14) - four pan seared east-coast sea scallops, smoked veal bacon, arugula and mushroom salad, were absolutely delicious, and flavored really well. Normally, I am not a huge bacon fan, but I really liked that the texture of the veal bacon was slightly less crispy than pork bacon.


As for my entree, I got the filet mignon (6 oz) ($24) - the most tender and leanest of all steaks. All steaks are of the highest quality, and are never frozen. The steaks are Canadian Angus beef that are aged for 28 day, and HMA certified hahal. Each steak entree was served with the customer's choice of two sides from the following list; seasonal vegetables, house cut fries, or roasted garlic mash. I opted for the seasonal vegetables, and roasted garlic mash. I also added an extra order of lobster tail with lemon herb butter ($12) to make it into my own version of surf & turf. The juicy steak was cooked exactly to my order, which was medium. The sauce that I selected was the Café de Paris butter. A good Café de Paris butter needs to have the perfect balance of butter, and the fragrant herbs and spices used. The texture of the one from Black Ox Bistro was slightly thicker than I would have liked, but it did add flavor to the steak. The lobster tail also added the extra touch to what was a very tasty and filling meal.




Black Ox Bistro prides themselves on serving a variety of items that are made in-house from fresh local ingredients. Similarly to their food items, the desserts were all made in-house by their chefs. I was happy to see that one of the options was crème brûlée; my favorite dessert of all time. I ordered the crème brûlée ($7) - silky and smooth topped with caramelized sugar, which was well plated. Overall, the dessert was indeed excellent, and it was a generous portion compared to the ones at similarly priced restaurants.


I was pleasantly surprised that all of the staff provided both friendly, and attentive service to all diners. They all worked cohesively as a well-unified team, and that resulted in providing great and consistent service. Overall, I had a fine dining experience at Black Ox Bistro, as I enjoyed both the food and ambiance. 

Address: 1780 Markham Road, Scarborough, ON,M1B 2W2
 
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Website: http://www.blackoxbistro.com/

Disclaimer: The food provided in this post was complimentary. However, all of the opinions expressed in this review are of my own.

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Tandoori Flame

Tandoori Flame is North America's largest Indian buffet with two locations in Ontario; Mississauga and Brampton. The Mississauga location caters to serving only halal-certified food, as all items are halal. Halal is meat (excluding pork) that has been prepared according to Islamic guidelines. However, their Brampton location doesn't cater specifically to halal food, as they offer a mixture of food items. Both venues are quite spacious with 10,000 to 14,000 sq.ft, and has the capacity to serve more than 500 guests. I was kindly invited to check out the Mississauga location of Tandoori Flame last weekend to celebrate the Halal Food Festival 2015, which I also attended. This location of Tandoori Flame was situated in the commercial area of the Heartland Town Center, so there were ample parking spots.  


 The decor was a little more rustic with white brick walls decorated with Indian artifacts and paintings all throughout the restaurant. As for the layout, the restaurant itself was vast, and spacious with over 15 different food stations. It wasn't hard to navigate around the buffet area, as everything was clearly labeled and laid out. Additionally, there were ample seating in the dining area. Speaking of the food stations earlier, they were very well-manned, as the buffet trays were frequently replenished.


The buffet is available seven days a week, and the adult prices are as followed: 

M-F (lunch) - $13.99
M-F (dinner) - $19.99
Sat-Sun (lunch) - $22.99
Fri-Sun (dinner) - $22.99
 

The buffet showcases an impressive assortment of Indian dishes, as well as having a large salad bar. Tandoori Flame boasts up to 150 delicious items such as gol gappas, papri chat, bhel puri, samosas, tikkis, falafal, Veg and non-Veg tandoori kabobs, tikkas, butter chicken, and more. Overall, I thought that Tandoori Flame did an excellent job of showcasing the wide variety of regional Indian cuisine on the buffet floor. It's a great place to sample Indian fare.




Most often when it comes to buffets, people often complain about the lack of authenticity of the food when compared to sit-down or family-owned restaurants. Personally, I think these are often unfair comparison as buffets are meant to showcase a variety of specialties for a set price. They don't just specialize in a few items. As a buffet, Tandoori Flame's main objective was to provide a diverse selection of regional Indian dishes to customers in the city. By offering the variety that they do, they have succeeded in bringing Indian flavors to Mississauga, and to those who may not be familiar with Indian food. Some flavors may not be as bold, but I did get a great taste of Indian flavors and spices in all the items that I did try. My favorite dishes were the naan, butter chicken, kesari chicken tikka, and the dosa. 

The service was also fantastic, as our server was courteous, attentive, and friendly. I also noticed that other servers attending to customers in the same dining area as us were quick to take ours, and other customers' dirty dishes away. We thoroughly enjoyed our dinner at Tandoori Flame. Overall, the buffet at Tandoori Flame offers solid tasty choices, and is great value for money. 










Address: 5975 Mavis Road, Mississauga, ON, L5R 3T7 (Mavis & Britannia)
 
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Website: http://tandooriflame.com/

Disclaimer: The food provided in this post was complimentary. However, all of the opinions expressed in this review are of my own.

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Paramount Fine Foods

Paramount Fine Foods is a popular Middle Eastern and Mediterranean chain of restaurants with several locations in Ontario. Their newest location on the corner of Cumberland Avenue and Bay Street in Yorkville just opened up yesterday. Additionally, the new 4,500 square feet location is the first full-service halal restaurant in the Yorkville area. This location of Paramount Fine Foods features a more upscale dining experience with an open concept kitchen and a wood-burning oven. I was invited over the weekend to attend their soft launch at the new location. This was also a charity initiative, as all tips collected over the weekend were tallied, and generously donated to the nutrition program at Jesse Ketchum Jr. & Sr. Public School.





The new space is both modern and inviting with wooden underlying tones, vaulted ceiling, a wall fixture of a cascading waterfall, and bright light. John and I were quickly seated by the hostess, and our server, took our drink orders. Along with our drinks, she also brought us a plate of two large pieces of pita bread. Most impressively, the pita bread is freshly baked in the stone oven throughout the day, and served hot. The pita bread is complimentary and served to all patrons.

Customers can also order a smaller portion size of hummus ($5.49) - chick peas paste, tahini sauce, drizzled with virgin olive oil. The hummus is great by itself, but even better when paired with the fresh pillowy pita bread.






We decided to start with an order of falafel - mix of ground chick peas and sesame seeds, golden fried with a side of tahini sauce ($.99/each piece). Falafel is a deep-fried ball made from ground chickpeas, and is a common dish eaten through the Middle East. It's commonly served in a pita, but it can also be eaten on its own as an appetizer. The falafel balls were served hot, and had a nice crunchy exterior. I found the inside to be quite moist, and full of flavor.





Despite its prime location in Yorkville, Paramount Fine Foods continues to offer a wide choice of quality and healthy dishes at reasonable prices. Deciding on a main dish was difficult, as I was impressed with the variety of Middle-Eastern dishes that they offered such as sandwiches, meat platters, and manakeesh. In the end, I opted for the Chicken & Beef Shawarma ($14.99) - a mix of chicken and beef shawarma served with garlic sauce and tahini to make for a perfect meal. Each shawarma platter is served alongside rice, but customers have the option to substitute it with fries or salad. As I had already ordered a plate of fries earlier to start, I decided to change my side dish to a garden salad, which was an extra $1.50.

The portion of the dish was pretty substantial, and was a good value for the price. It came with a giant pita bread topped with a large mound of meat, and a healthy dose of greens. I thought that the thinly shaved pieces of chicken and beef offer a great mixture, and the meat was flavorful. Only a few pieces of chicken were slightly on the dyer side, but it still tasted good. Additionally, the creamy and garlic sauces worked well with the chicken and beef shawarma.





J got the lamb ($19.99) - two skewers of in house marinated iamb. char-grilled to perfection and served with a side of hummus





French fries ($3.99) - fresh cut daily from whole potatoes.





Paramount Fine Foods is pretty much providing a taste of the Middle East in Yorkville, and based on what I've seen, they're very passionate about their food. Overall, this new location of Paramount Fine Foods offers an extensive choice of fresh, healthy, and high quality halal menu items. I enjoyed my meal, and definitely left feeling full and satisfied. The food was solid, and the restaurant is a great addition to the thriving cultural district of Yorkville. Paramount Fine Foods is open Sunday - Thursday : 8:00am - 10:00pm, and Friday - Saturday : 8:00am - 11:00pm.

Thank you to the staff of Paramount Fine Foods for the amazingly warm and great service that night, and Stav for the invitation. I had a wonderful night trying out the new Paramount Fine Foods location.

Address: 1250 Bay St, Toronto,ON, M5R 2B1
 
Social Media:

Website: http://www.paramountfinefoods.com/
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/paramountfoods

Disclaimer: The food provided in this post was complimentary. However, all of the opinions expressed in this review are of my own.

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