Showing posts with label mezza. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mezza. Show all posts

Paramount Fine Foods Yorkville

It seems like yesterday I first step foot in Paramount’s two-floor Yonge and Dundas location. I was marveled about its size and extensive menu dedicated to Middle Eastern cuisine; deciding what to order was no small feat. In less than five years, the chain now has 26 operating restaurants and another 16 in the queue – there will soon be more Canadians facing the ordering dilemma.  

Their menu has all the popular favourites: shawarma, kafta and shish tawouk skewers. Yet, Paramount also offers dishes such as the manakeesh, a flatbread topped with a variety of ingredients that’s similar to pizza, which until Paramount I’ve never heard about. This summer the choices continue to grow with another dozen dishes added, a selection featured in this post.

The Yalla special ($9.99), a dish popularized by the Yalla Paramount food truck, is not unlike poutine - cubes of chicken shawarma replaces cheese curds and plenty of garlic & tahini sauce is drizzled over top instead of gravy. It's a popular dish for the food truck.  However, unlike the Canadian favourite, the sauces aren’t warm so the fries arrive cool losing that hot crispiness I love and crave with fries.  
If you’re looking for a great shared starter, opt for the mezza plate ($9.99), the selection of dips are fantastic:

  • Of course there’s the classic hummus: a smooth chick pea paste combined with tahini (a toasted sesame seed sauce) and drizzled with olive oil.
  • The tabbouleh is refreshing, the diced tomatoes and crushed wheat helping to mellow chopped parsley and onions. If you’re having any of Paramount’s grilled meat mains, save a bit of tabbouleh, it goes so nicely mixed with hot beef or lamb juices.
  • Lastly, a serving of moutabbal, which I mistakenly thought was baba ghanoush at the restaurant. Having researched the dip further online, the Syrian Foodie explains that although both use eggplant cooked on an opened flame (to give the dip a smokiness), moutabbal mixes the vegetable with tahini while baba ghanoush uses pomegranate molasses and parsley – so you’ll find the moutabbal richer and more savoury.

The mezza plate is the perfect condiment for paring with the pillowy pita made fresh at the restaurant’s wood-burning ovens. Heated to 600F, the intense heat causes the middle of the bread to steam and puff up. As the basket is brought to the table, I can’t wait to dig into the hot bread and inhale the yeasty steam. Paramount’s pitas put supermarkets to shame – they’re chewy with a lovely toasted crust, nothing like the dry powdery cardboard you find bagged in plastic.  

Another new bread being offered is the markook, an ultra-thin flatbread which is used in their tabliyeh saj chicken shawarma wrap ($11.99). Plenty of shredded roasted chicken is wrapped in tortilla-thin bread, then toasted so that it gets a crispy exterior. The garlic sauce gives the wrap moisture and almost a cheesy quality when it’s warm and gooey. The platter makes for a great lunch with a generous portion of fries (complete with more garlic sauce for dipping), pickles and turnips.

Paramount’s first seafood dish, the BBQ shrimp plate ($16.49) is wonderful. The marinated shrimp cooked quickly on the hot grill so they get a lovely light char but retain a crispiness. I love the lighter tomato garlic sauce they’ve concocted for the dish – the spicy heat going nicely with the shrimp and even better when mixed into the fragrant basmati rice. This has to be my favourite dish at Paramount to date.

Even their drinks are a sight… every time someone see’s the Paramount Special ($7.49), they immediately peruse the menu to find the elaborate concoction. The drink could easily work as a light meal or dessert: the fresh strawberry and mango juices topped with mixed fruits (strawberry, kiwi and pineapple), crushed almonds & pistachio, ashta cream (similar to clotted or Devonshire cream) and honey. For me, I prefer their mango juice ($6.49), silky and fragrant without being overly sweet.

Paramount has always been a popular restaurant for weekday lunches – their service is quick (allowing the lunch to stick to an hour), prices are reasonable (most mains are under $15), there’s a great selection and no on leaves hungry. If time is not an issue, I suggest first ordering appetizers and adding on mains afterwards - otherwise everything comes in quick succession and the small tables makes fitting the large platters a challenge.

I can certainly see why Paramount Fine Foods is one of the quickest growing franchise in North America. And thank you for the new mezza and BBQ shrimp plates, deciding what to eat has now gotten even more difficult.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10
Dislaimer: The above meal was complimentary. Rest assured, as noted in my mission statement, I will always provide an honest opinion.

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 1250 Bay Street

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!

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