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Showing posts with label North York. Show all posts

Syria: A Living History at Aga Khan Museum (Diwan)

The Aga Khan Museum's newest exhibit Syria: A Living History highlights Syria's multicultural legacy, and showcases about 48 works from the past 5,000 years . It goes on beyond from what we know from the headlines of the country, and instead offers an in-depth insight into its history by bringing together artifacts and artworks. The exhibit will remain open until February 26, 2017, so there is still plenty of time to visit.

“We hope that a better appreciation of Syria’s priceless contributions to the world’s heritage over five millennia will add urgency to the efforts to bring about peace and reconciliation in that country,” says Aga Khan Museum Director and CEO, Henry Kim. “The sheer variety of these artifacts and their cultural breadth reveal just how multicultural Syria was, long before the term ‘multicultural’ waseven invented, and how essential that diversity was to the development of so many of the world’s greatest civilizations.” (source: agakhanmuseum.org)
Additionally, many of the works of art are being exhibited together for the first time giving museum patrons a unique insight into the cultural traditions of both ancient and present-day Syria. Exhibition highlights include an eye idol from Syria, carved around 3,200 BC, a stele with a depiction of a prayer from Tell Halaf (10th – 9th centuries BC ) which still bears marks of a Second World War bomb raid and contemporary works by Elias Zayat and Fateh Moudarres that merge personal experiences with reflections on modern-day Syria.

Pickled Turnips and Labaneh

The exhibition represents an unprecedented partnership between several renowned public and private institutions. Institutional partners include the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto; the Museum of Islamic Art, Berlin; the Vorderasiatisches Museum, Berlin; the Louvre, Paris; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Atassi Foundation, Dubai; and the Marshall and Marilyn R. Wolf Collection, Toronto.

I had a pleasure of attending a media tasting at Diwan; a beautifully designed restaurant inside the architecturally stunning Aga Khan MuseumDiwan'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.

That night, Diwan hosted an intimate tasting where we got to sample the new Syrian influenced menu. The new menu was curated by Chef Mark McEwan and Chef de Cuisine John Kovac, and is now available for lunch.

Photo Credit: Devon L (foodsoftoronto) 
Fattoush - cucumber, tomato, red onion, Macedonian feta, crisp lavash

Kebab Karaz - lamb meatball braised with sour cherries, pinenuts served with naan

Lahana Salata - cabbage salad with beets, almonds, feta cheese and citrus garlic vinaigrette

“Tarator” Style Roasted Salmonwalnut-crusted salmon, lemon Tahini yogurt, and quinoa 

After dinner, we got a private tour of Aga Khan Museum's newest exhibit Syria: A Living History.

Syria: A Living History

Photo Credit: Devon L (foodsoftoronto) 

Photo Credit: Devon L (foodsoftoronto) 

Photo Credit: Devon L (foodsoftoronto) 

Photo Credit: Devon L (foodsoftoronto) 

Photo Credit: Devon L (foodsoftoronto) 

Photo Credit: Devon L (foodsoftoronto) 


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


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


The Aga Khan Museum is located at 77 Wynford Drive, close to Don Mills Road and Eglinton Avenue East in Toronto, Ontario

 Social Media:

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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Paese Ristorante

 Paese Ristorante is an Italian eatery serving classic Italian cuisine on Bathurst and Wilson in North York, ON. Their extensive menu is divided into several sections such as salads, antipasto, pasta, pizza, fish & meat, and sides. Paese opened over 25 years ago, and has become a neighborhood staple when it comes to homemade Italian-inspired cuisine. Walking into the restaurant, we were quickly seated at the table with natural sunlight shining in and given water. I found the overall ambiance to be quite inviting and warm. Their main dining area downstairs does not have many tables, however, they do offer a private room upstairs to accommodate larger parties. Paese Ristorante has been in business since 1989, and is still thriving today as a result of their ever-changing menus, and warm hospitality.

The menu stays true to Paese Ristorante's philosophy of "Inspired in Italy, Made in Canada". The dishes are handcrafted and house-made using traditional techniques that are combined with distinctive and original made-in-Canada twists.

We started the evening off with complimentary Focaccia Bread - with roasted red peppers, goat cheese, and tapenade. It was a nice change from the bread and olive oil that diners usually get from other Italian restaurants.  

Next up was the Grilled Octopus ($18) - potato, grilled escarole, mint, lemon and chill, which was a great starter. The grilled octopus was beautifully charred, but still remained tender and had a nice texture to them. I also enjoyed the refreshing lightness of the citrus sauce, and the potatoes complement the octopus rather well.

My friend got the Warm Goat Cheese Salad ($14) - baby kale, grilled zucchini and sweet pepper spaghetti with farro, toasted pine nuts and mint pesto vinaigrette, as his appetizer. The lightly tossed salad was not overpowered by the dressing, so that you get the full flavor of the zucchini, sweet pepper, and toasted pine nuts. The addition of the goat cheese was exceptional with the mint pesto vinaigrette.

I could definitely eat a whole order of the Polenta Fries ($10) - crisp polenta fries with roasted garlic aioli, sundried tomato ketchup. The outer layer was golden and crisp, while the interior was creamy. Great contrast in terms of textures, and a nice twist on traditional french fries.

As my main, I opted for the Grilled Shrimp Linguini ($25) - roasted pepperoncini, garlic and tomato arrabiata sauce. The linguini was cooked al dente, so there was a bit of chewiness. One main problem that I had with the linguini was that some of the strands were stuck together. This didn't completely ruin my experience with the main dish, as the shrimp had such a nice flavor to them that I enjoyed the dish overall. 

My friend got one of the specials, which was Beef Tenderloin & Potatoes ($25) - red wine jus, which he thoroughly enjoyed.

We ended up sharing one dessert, the Mango Gelato - with a sugar-dusted pizzelle. Since it was just gelato, it wasn't a memorable dessert, but it was a good finish to a delightful dinner. 

The atmosphere at Paese Ristorante makes it a very versatile place for lunch or dinner whether it be catching up with friends, on a date, or special occasions. It was a rather busy Thursday, and despite attending to other tables, our server remained attentive to us as well. Overall, I had an enjoyable dining experience at Paese Ristorante, and it's quite a gem in the neighborhood. Paese Ristorante is open daily for lunch (11:30 am to 2:30 pm) and dinner (5:30 pm to 11:30 pm).

Social Media:

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.

Paese Ristorante Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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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.


- 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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Francobollo Posto Italiano

Located on Avenue Road between Lawrence and Wilson is a relatively new restaurant, Francobollo Posto Italiano. It is one of the many restaurants from the Substance Food Group; the team behind Terra, Rusty's At Blue, and Sarpa restaurants. I had the pleasure of attending a menu tasting at Francobollo Posto Italiano about two weeks ago, and had a delightful dinner. Francobollo offers classic Italian fare, and its menu consists of several selections of insalate (salad), antipaste (first course), paste (pasta), secondi (second course), and rotational desserts. This North York restaurant distinguishes itself from others by presenting a very warm atmosphere with no hint of pretentiousness from the start to the end of our dining experience. 

The overall space was brightly-lit, and has a very modern yet romantic ambiance. Francobollo Posto Italiano is split into two levels. The first floor is for casual diners while the second floor has the capacity to cater to large parties. 

We couldn't make up our minds on what dishes to get, so we left it in the hands of our capable server to recommend some.

For a starter, we got the Barbabietola ($14)heirloom beets, goat cheese, green pistachio, baby arugula, wildflower honey & balsamic vinaigretteThe heirloom beets are cooked sous vide involving placing them into a plastic bag, and soaking them in water or a temperature-controlled environment. This method helps to retain the natural flavors, and coloring that would otherwise be diluted. I love how the balsamic vinaigrette added a very citrus flavor to the overall dish.

Another starter that we got was the Polipo Sottovuotto ($18) - 75° octopus, quinoa, butter lettuce, orange-red onion-caper-mint salsa. The dish consists of thinly cut octopus on top of a bed of quinoa, and butter lettuce. It was layered properly to give you a palette of various flavors, and it was a beautiful presentation for an appetizer. The octopus was fine on its own, but you do have the option to add more lemon to it.

Francobollo Posto Italiano has a great selection of house-made pasta, which all sounded amazing. However, J ended up opting for the Gamberi E Capesante Alla Brace ($37) - grilled jumbo black tiger prawns & day boat scallops, lemon & sea salt, as his main course. I would love to come back on another occasion to try one of their pasta dishes.

I can't stress enough how well-presented the plates are at Francobollo Posto Italiano. The main course, Filetto Di Manzo Alla Griglia (8oz) ($38) - grilled certified Angus beef tenderloin, wild mushrooms, bone marrow & fresh thyme jus, arrived beautifully plated. The beef tenderloin itself was well-seasoned, and had a good sear to it. Beneath the steak laid a handful of perfectly cooked vegetables. The wild mushrooms and carrots really added a nice taste to the beef without overpowering the dish. I was told that each component of the dish was pan-fried, and cooked separately to give it a district layer of taste.

I had the enjoyment of cutting each tender piece, as it was cooked exactly to my liking (medium rare). I was rather impressed with the quality considering Francobollo is an Italian restaurant and not a steakhouse. Lastly, the bone marrow was prepared in a way that it was first scooped out then put back onto a crispy bone. The bone marrow got a little dry towards the end, but was not an issue when paired with a glass of red wine.

The Risotto Mantecato is composed daily (MP). Risotto is a very versatile dish, so there are several ways to prepare it. The one that we ordered had a nice creamy texture, and pieces of the duck was cooked well. 

The selection of desserts change daily, and during our visit this delectable Nutella Cheesecake was featured on the menu. As mentioned plenty of times throughout my blog, I have a major sweet tooth, so I always anticipate dessert. The Nutella cheesecake came at the right temperature, as it was nice and cold without any freezer burn. What I would like to heavily emphasize is the generous portion of the cheesecake that was topped off with a glaze of cherry sauce. The dessert was a nice finish as it was perfectly rich and creamy, combined with a nice crust, and full of Nutella flavor.

J opted for the Double Chocolate Tartufo, which is a classic Italian ice-cream dessert. I have had tartufo before, and normally it would be a large ball resembling a truffle. However, the one at Francobollo is sliced into four pieces, and covered in a wonderful blend of double chocolate.

We both left the restaurant with a truly fantastic fine dining experience, and full. Although touted as an upscale restaurant, I enjoyed the warm ambiance that the staff from Francobollo provided. I found the service to be rather top-notch, as our server was incredibly attentive, and provided much professionalism. Lastly, its menu of classic Italian fare is crafted using fresh and locally sourced ingredients, and is something that I appreciate from a local restaurant.

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

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

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Genghis Khan Mongolian Grill

Genghis Khan Mongolian Grill is a Mongolian-inspired DIY stir-fry and Northern Chinese buffet on Don Mills Road in North York, ON. The restaurant is separated into two sections - the Mongolian grill and the buffet area that serves Chinese hot foods. It should be noted that they do not serve Mongolian food here at Genghis Khan Mongolian Grill. Rather, it's a borrowed concept from the legend of the great warrior, Genghis Khan, from the 13th century. Back then, Genghis Khan and his soldiers would prepare and cook their meals on their upturned shields over a hot fire, and would use their swords to cook the ingredients. This is pretty much where the concept originated from, and it has been popularized throughout the world.

The concept is pretty simple, as diners would choose various ingredients from the displays to combine together to make their desired bowls. Genghis Khan Mongolian Grill offers an array of meats, ingredients, vegetables, and sauces to mix and match, so there's definitely something for everyone. First up was the meat station where you have the option to choose from lamb, pork, chicken, and beef. I recommend taking more than 4-5 slice of meat, as they do shrink in size on the grill. I was impressed with the variety of sauces that they offer, as there were plenty of pre-made sauces, and oils/seasonings (chili oil, sesame oil, fish sauce, cooking wine, etc ...)  available. After choosing your meat, you would then add whatever vegetables, type of noodle, and sauces you want, and then take it to the grill to be cooked. The griddle operator/chef would then take your raw bowl, and cook it on the large, and round iron grill  (with the addition of oil and water). The grill is rather hot, so it cooks quite fast within 5 minutes time (heats up to 300 °C).

They had a wide selection of  vegetables and noodles options to choose from.

 Several sauces are available to customize as you pleases.


I ate two bowls of noodles from the Mongolian Grill. I opted for udon the first time around, and then switched it up to egg noodles for my second bowl. I picked the right combination of sauces, and they tasted great.


To the left of the restaurant was the traditional Chinese buffet offering things such as fried rice, stir-fry vegetables, noodles, ribs, chicken wings, dim sum etc ... The selection wasn't too bad, but was limited compared to other Chinese buffets. However, the Mongolian grill is the main attraction of Genghis Khan Mongolian Grill anyway. Price wise, I would say it's on par with buffets in the area as dinner for an adult is $23.95 (Mon to Thu) and $26.95 (Weekends/Holidays).


The dessert buffet table consisted of a chocolate fountain with fondue, cakes, brownies, cream puffs, and slices of fresh fruits.

Overall, it was a fun yet unique dining experience, and I really enjoyed creating my own noodle bowls. The restaurant was a little far for us (as we drove from downtown), but it's a nice place to have dinner with family or friends. 

Address: 900 Don Mills Rd, North York, ON M3C 1V6

Social Media

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GenghisKhanMongolianGrill/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mongolianbbqto/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/mongolianbbqto
Website: http://www.ggkbbq.com/

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

Genghis Khan Mongolian Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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