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Showing posts with label Middle Eastern. Show all posts

Summer Menu Tasting at Diwan

On the outskirts of Toronto lies a stunning agricultural building designed by Fumihiko Maki. The Aga Khan Museum opened its door in 2014, and features historical artifacts from Muslim ancient civilizations. To the right of the entrance of the museum is Diwan; a beautifully-designed restaurant headed by celebrity chef, Mark McEwan. We were invited to return to taste their new summer menu inspired by tempting flavors from Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, North Africa, and Turkey. Diwan is open for lunch from Tuesday to Sunday from 11:30 am to 2:30 pm.



Diwan's decor evokes the luxury of a 19th century private Syrian home, and its menu draws inspiration from Middle Eastern cuisine. Additionally, the 65-seat restaurant is filled with natural lighting, giving it a bright, contemporary and modern ambiance, allowing guests a great view of the adjacent Ismaili Centre. Chef McEwan and his team have created a menu with their take on Pan-Islamic cuisine that includes starters like advice spiced calamari and halloumi salad, and entrees like lamb kofta meatballs, and harissa glazed salmon.

We started off the summer menu tasting with some mocktails from their wide range of drink options. We enjoyed it on the patio, which is now open for lunch. The patio has an incredible view of the beautifully landscaped Aga Khan Park designed by landscape architect, Vladimir Djurovic.



** PLEASE NOTE THAT THE PORTIONS BELOW ARE SAMPLE-SIZE **

Advieh Spiced Calamari ($14) - with Aleppo Aioli 



Lamb Kofta ($14) - lamb meatballs, corn, and coconut curry with naan 


Photo Credit: Fred.BK

Grilled Octopus with Chickpea Salad
 ($17) - with Moroccan olives, stewed sweet peppers, and Aleppo aioli


Chicken Jalfrezi ($20) - tomato-based curry studded with peppers and onion, basmati rice, cashews, yogurt, and naan 


Borani-E-Bademjan ($11) - yogurt and eggplant dip in filo shell, onion, garlic, tumeric, cumin, dill, mint, lemon


My two favorite dishes from Diwan were the Advieh Spiced Calamari and Chicken Jalfrezi. The calamari was lightly coated in batter and well-spiced. The poutine on the other hand was full of flavors as the tomato-based curry was fragrant.

The Aga Khan Museum houses the Aga Khan family collection of roughly 1,000 rare objects and paintings from the 8th to the 20th century. Occasionally, they do have some temporary exhibitions that showcase arts from Muslim lands. After the tasting, we had the opportunity to tour the Aga Khan Museum's temporary exhibit, Syrian Symphony: New Compositions in Sight and Sound. It's on display until August 13, 2017, and it offers an immersive and interactive response from the artists to the current situation in Syria. I was completely immersed in the music and it provided a lot of insights into the conflict of the Syrian people. I highly recommend making a visit before it's gone. 



Photo Credit: Janey (foodrealm)

Photo Credit: Janey (foodrealm)

Photo Credit: Janey (foodrealm)

Photo Credit: Janey (foodrealm)

Photo Credit: Janey (foodrealm)

Photo Credit: Janey (foodrealm)

Address: 77 Wynford Dr, Toronto, ON M3C 1K1

HOURS:

Monday: Closed
(except holiday Mondays)
Tuesday: 10 am–6 pm
Wednesday: 10 am–8 pm
Thursday–Sunday: 10 am–6 pm

COST:

General Admission*
Friends: Free
Adults: $20
Seniors (65+): $15
Students:* $12

Social Media:

Facebook || Instagram || Twitter || Website 

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 Yorkville

Paramount Fine Foods is a popular Middle Eastern and Mediterranean chain of restaurants with several locations in Ontario. The Paramount Fine Foods Yorkville location opened in early 2015, and is the first full-service halal restaurant in the Yorkville area. The 4,500 square feet location offers a more upscale dining experience with an open concept kitchen. Paramount Fine Foods Yorkville offers an extensive menu of Middle-Eastern dishes, and now they have expanded even more so by adding six new items. 

I had the pleasure of attending a menu tasting, where my guest and I got to try some of the new menu items. Before dinner started, our server took our drink orders. I opted for the Mango/Strawberry Juice - a 50/50 blend of fresh mango and strawberry juices lightly sweetened with sugar, which was refreshing, and not overly sweet. 

 

My friend got the Paramount Special - layers of fresh strawberry and mango juices with mixed fruits, topped with fresh strawberry, kiwi, pineapple, almonds, crushed pistachio, ashta cream and honey. On paper, the drink sounded pretty busy with all of various ingredients, but the concoction of all of the ingredients created a rather delectable drink. 


To start, we were brought two large pieces of pita bread. The pita bread are freshly baked in the stone oven throughout the day, and served hot. It’s complimentary and served to all patrons.



One of the new starters is the mezza plate, which is perfect to be shared between two people. The Hummus, Moutabbal & Tabbouleh ($9.99) - equal portion of our famous hummus, moutabbal, and freshly prepared tabbouleh, was a great start to dinner. My favorite out of the three was the hummus, which had a nice cream texture without being runny.  

 

Did you know that Paramount Fine Foods also has an offshoot food truck? The Yalla Special ($9.99) - fries topped with chicken shawarma, garlic sauce, and tahini sauce, is one of the items available from the truck and is now available on Paramount Fine Foods Yorkville's new menu. This item is like a rendition of poutine (not a poutine though) but with more of a Mediterranean flair. The fries are topped with a generous portion of chicken shawarma, and drizzled with creamy tahini sauce.

 

Tabliyeh Saj Chicken Shawarma ($11.99 - shredded pieces of chicken grilled on a rotating spit wrapped to perfection with our freshly baked thin Saj bread with garlic sauce. Each platter is served Tabliyeh style (on a wooden board) with fries, pickles, turnips, and sauce.



The BBQ Shrimp Plate is the first seafood platter to be added onto Paramount Fine Foods' menu. So naturally, it was the item that I was looking forward the most to try. The BBQ Shrimp Plate ($16.49) - 2 skewers of marinated shrimp served with basmati rice, tomato garlic sauce, pickles, and turnips, arrived with several pieces of plump yet lightly-charred shrimp. I highly recommend getting this dish, as it’s well-priced for the large portion that you get, and was delightfully tasty


BBQ Chicken Wings ($7.49) - 3 pieces of whole marinated BBQ wings



Paramount Fine Foods Yorkville continues to offer an extensive choice of fresh, healthy, and high quality halal menu items. It's an ideal place to grab a quick bite at lunch, or have a dinner with family or friends. I stand by my earlier review, and believe that it's a great addition to the thriving cultural district of Yorkville. Paramount Fine Foods is open Sunday to Thurs from 8 am to 11 pm, and Fri and Sat from 8 am to 12 am. 



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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Diwan at the Aga Khan Museum

Diwan is a beautifully designed restaurant inside the architecturally stunning Aga Khan Museum at Don Mills. The restaurant is accessible by TTC or vehicle (there is a flat parking fee of $10), and is located to the right of the entrance of the museum. Since late last year, the kitchen has been headed by celebrity chef, Mark McEwan, who is known for his culinary skills and established restaurants such as North 44, ByMark, One, and more. McEwan's culinary background isn't Middle Eastern food, but he does a great job of executing a menu that highlights the bold flavors that this type of cuisine is known for. They don't claim to be authentic, but the food is put together with precision and great care that complements the museum. Diwan is open for lunch from Tuesday to Sunday from 11:30 am to 2:30 pm.




Diwan's decor evokes the luxury of a 19th century private Syrian home, and its menu draws inspiration from Middle Eastern, North African, and Indian cuisine. Additionally, the 65-seat restaurant is filled with natural lighting, giving it a bright, contemporary and modern ambiance allowing guests a great view of the adjacent Ismaili Centre. Chef McEwan and his team has created a menu with their take on Pan-Islamic cuisine that includes starters like goat kafta, roasted beet salad, lamb kibbeh, and entrees like grilled beef shish kebab, and chicken jalfrezi. The dishes are said to offer traditional flavors while adding a more modern flare to them in terms of ingredients, and presentation.


The Goat Kafta ($12) - braised goat meatballs, curry sauce, warm naan, was a manageable size for a starter, and a great introduction to what is to come. Four plump goat meatballs surrounded by an overflow of delicious curry sauce, and served with warm naan.


The starters menu offers an array of tantalizing choices, but I opted for the Grilled Octopus ($17) - green chickpea salad, Moroccan olives, sweet stewed peppers, sujuk, and Aleppo pepper aioli. The octopus was perfectly cooked, and had a nice tender texture to it. Aleppo pepper is a spice that is commonly used in Middle Eastern cuisine, and has a moderate heat level. I could definitely taste a hint of spice in the octopus, and it was just the right amount.


The Grilled Beef Shish Kebab ($23) - with brown zataar butter, chickpea purée, sticky saffron onions, roasted heirloom beets was a more elevated take of the beef shish kebab that I've had in the past.


My choice of main was the Chermoula-Marinated Prawns ($24) - with roasted heirloom carrots, avocado, labneh, orange-cumin vinaigrette, and fresh coriander. The dish was well presented with a bed of salad topped off with six pieces of prawns, and lightly glazed with orange-cumin vinaigrette and labneh. The portion was a little small for an entree compared to my fiancé's dish. However, I loved the addition of the orange-cumin vinaigrette as it added a nice citrus flavoring to the prawns. I don't regret ordering this dish.


The Carrot Halva Upside Down Cake ($10) - all spice, brown sugar reduction, cream cheese icing contained a healthy chunk of real carrots, and was delicious. This dessert is the Diwan team's modern interpretation of the popular dessert using grated carrots and halva. This was my first time trying halva, and I learned that it's a dense and sweet confection of Arabic origin that is popular across the Middle East, and South/North Africa.



The Raspberry Sorbet ($8) was a light, yet refreshing frozen dessert.


Overall, we had an enjoyable lunch in a lovely atmosphere. Diwan at the Aga Khan Museum was a little far for us, but we made it count as we also shopped for a few things at McEwan's nearby grocery store after lunch.

Aga Khan Museum also has a fantastic performing arts program available and for many of their shows they offer a special dinner package at Diwan as well. Dinners begin at 6 pm on performance night and are $75 per person (performance ticket price not included). To reserve, please visit agakhanmuseum.org.

 There are two great poet series and a showcase performance coming up in April 2016 as detailed below.

Reflections on Rumi (Saturday, April 16)

The incomparable voices of sisters Mahsa and Marjan Vahdat unite with the kamancheh, piano, and percussion to deliver exquisite interpretations of Rumi’s poetry.

Reflections on Kabir and Khusrau (Friday, April 29)

Master sitartist Shujaat Khan and singer Ramneek Singh, known for her pure, meditative style, interpret the works of two beloved Sufi masters.

WORLD MUSIC SERIES

DakhaBrakha
- Showcase Performance (Saturday, April 23)

Ukrainian quartet and self-described “ethnic chaos” band returns for another original performance.

----------------------------------------

Address: 77 Wynford Dr, Toronto, ON M3C 1K1

Social Media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/agakhanmuseumtoronto
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/diwantoronto/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/agakhanmuseum
Website: https://www.agakhanmuseum.org/content/about-diwan

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

Diwan Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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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

Social Media:

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.

Fresh East Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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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.

Paramount Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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