First post in 2015! I bring you Byblos (@ByblosToronto), an restaurant I visited in 2014 and really enjoyed. Byblos is brought to us by Charles Khabouth and Hanif Harji of Weslodge and Patria, with Stuart Cameron (@chef_stucameron) as the executive chef. Nestled in the Entertainment district of Toronto, Byblos serves up Eastern Mediterranean influenced cuisine & cocktails, with a chic and contemporary spin.
Byblos has an inventive cocktail menu, with genuinely unique and well-crafted cocktails. I had the Gulab, consisting of rose-infused vodka, pomegranate reduction, fresh citrus and cardamom. The cardamom flavour really stood out and the rose flavour was subtle. My friends had the Outlander and Ten Suns. The presentation of these cocktails are gorgeous, aren't they?
rose-infused smirnoff vodka, house pomegranate reduction, fresh lemon, cardamom
Bombay Sapphire, tamarind syrup, fresh lemon, lavender bitters
The Ten Suns
green tea-infused vodka, lemongrass/ginger/honey syrup, yuzu juice, cardamom
Byblos offers up small sharing plates. I have become increasingly fond of tapas style dining, sharing lots of small plates with a group of friends and trying a little bit, or a lot of, everything. It makes the meal more intimate and dynamic, not to mention it opens people to try things that they normally would not. We ordered 10 dishes and shared them. We started with their Organic House Labneh, a thick yogurt topped with honey and olive oil, served with hot Barbari bread, garnished with cayenne and fennel. This dish was simple, yet satisfying. The Barbari bread was grilled prior to serving, arriving at our table piping hot, slightly charred and fragrant.
Organic House Labneh
fennel, honey, olive oil, Barbari bread
We tried their Crispy Eggplant next, consisted of fried eggplant pieces covered in Tahini aioli and Bayildi sauce. It comes with basturma, a type of cured beef, which we got on the side because I don't eat beef. These were crispy on the outside and soft and creamy on the inside, with a hint of coolness from the Tahini and a hint of spices from the Bayildi sauce. This dish might draw its influence from Imam Bayildi, a Turkish dish consisting of braised stuffed eggplants. It's certainly a beautiful interpretation of the tradition dish.
Tahini aioli, Bayildi sauce, basturma
basturma on the side...
You'd be surprised that 9 out of 10 dishes we ordered were vegetarian, because of various dietary restrictions and preferences at the table. However, we had an amazing dining experience, I assure you! The only non-vegetarian dish we ordered was their Spanish Octopus, consisting of grilled octopus served atop Turkish salad and garnished with pomegranate.
Turkish spoon salad, pomegranate
Their Fig Salad was well received at the table. The salad was made up of slivers of ripe sweet fig, greens, pistachios for crunch and Ackawi cheese for richness. I don't typically eat cheese, but I managed to try a few bites without the cheese crumbles and it was quite good. This dish, surprisingly, reminded me of my childhood in China, picking ripe figs straight off the tree and stuffing my face with them.
orange blossom honey vinegar, Ackawi cheese, kholrabi, pistachio
We had some more Barbari bread with a piping hot tomato based sauce, drizzled with yogurt. The sauce was savoury, sweet and lightly spiced. I don't recall the name of this dish, but it was polished up by my table within a matter of minutes.
Barbari bread & tomato sauce
I have to confess, I have never been to a Turkish restaurant, mainly because I don't know of any located in Toronto. Seeing Turkish Manti Dumplings on the menu, I had to order it. It was filled with smokey eggplant and topped with a sweet yogurt sauce. I quite enjoyed the dumplings themselves, but I found the sauce to be too creamy and sweet for my liking.
Turkish Manti Dumplings
smokey eggplant, yogurt sauce, molasses
Sweet Jeweled Basmati Rice
carrot, saffron, barberries, almonds
Byblos The last couple of small plates we ordered were the Seared Cauliflower and Roasted Carrots. Both dishes had a similar preparation, consisting of caramelized vegetable covered in a creamy dressing. This was quite good, even though it consisted of few ingredients. This goes to show that food doesn't need to be complicated to be delicious. If I can eat dishes like this everyday, I might turn into a vegetarian.
duck fat, Tahini sauce, sesame, coriander
Halloumi, Tahini, yogurt
We ended our meal with their dessert item of the day, a fried dumpling covered in strawberry sauce. I'm not a fan of fried desserts and wished that they had a little bit more variety in their dessert selection that day.
Overall, we had a delicious meal that was beautifully presented, and I have to say I'm quite happy with it. However, I did find this restaurant to be on the pricier side, so maybe it would be more of a 'special-occasion-restaurant' for me.
Please let me know what you think about Byblos! Find me on Twitter (@SGluttonous) and Instagram (@simply.gluttonous)! Thanks a bunches my lovelies. Speak to y'all soon.
Until next time,