Over the last few years Executive Chef Stuart Cameron has been inspiring King Street West with his culinary skills. When I first visited Weslodge Saloon it was the decorum and campy taxidermy aesthetic of the space that left the strongest impression. Patria, his follow-up project next door offered jaw dropping interiors and an authentic Spanish dining experience which had folks bustling for brunch.
On my recent visit to Byblos it seems as though Chef Cameron has perfected his craft, offering a sun-soaked dining experience where authentic Middle Eastern sips and nibbles inspire. And with Charles Kabouth, an import from Lebanon, running the show it has a personality driven seal of approval with sweet whispers from his home sweet home.
I was joined at the table by two visiting Brits. I was particularly interested in Michael’s take on the dining experience as he spent the last few years living in Dubai and left his heart in Lebanon which he visited several times while taking up residence in the region.
Byblos offers a breath of fresh air, a muddling of aromas, textures and flavours inspired by the Middle East which for the first time are being showcased in Toronto’s Entertainment District. The cocktail program here is stellar and with a lengthy menu of tapas style plates, the perfect spot to enjoy after work drinks and a light bite. The dining room also offers comfy booths, an ideal spot to enjoy a lengthy celebratory feast, a Lebanese inspired bacchanal.
Over the course of our three hour feast a parade of steaming plates whisked under our noses. While every savoury dish was “top drawer” my favourites which you’ll have to add to your “to do list” include: oozing Basturma Egg, deep fried Cheese Acharuli, crispy Duck Kibbeh, petite Turkish Manti Dumplings, sweet Fig Salad, vine leaf wrapped Grilled Halibut and eye popping Sweet Jewelled Basmati Rice.
Your sweet finish should include an order (or two) of Crispy Qatayef an addictive fried pastry filled with cream and topped with sumac muddled strawberry. Closing your eyes while taking the first bite brings back memories of theme park funnel cake glory. Be sure to enjoy your final sips with a glass of hot Moroccan Mint Tea or if in need of a buzz a cup of Traditional Turkish Coffee which is prepared table-side via traditional cezve.
The Ten Suns
green tea-infused ketel one vodka, lemon grass ginger, honey syrup, yuzu juice, tincture of cardamom
Across the Sea
moroccan mint tea-infused captain morgan light rum, fresh lemon, sugar, house middle east bitters, ginger beer
bombay sapphire east, tamarind syrup, fresh lemon, lavender bitters
tanqueray gin, ginger-infused campari, house vermouth, spiced orange and ginger mist
orange-infused bulleit rye, house vermouth, house pomegranate bitters, house cherry
mozzarella, brik pastry, bieber chili aioli, schug
Organic House Lebneh
fennel, honey, olive oil, barbari bread
quail egg, brioche, za’atar
tahini aioli, bayildi sauce, basturma
dried fig, date molases, tahini
dukkah, buttermilk sauce, carob molases, red chili schug
Hand Rolled Couscous
brown butter, saffron, herbs
Turkish Manti Dumplings
smokey eggplant, yogurt sauce, molases
orange blossom honey vinegar, ackawi cheese, kohlrabi, pistachio
vine leaves, fel fel, chermoula, toum
Sweet Jewelled Basmati Rice
carrot, saffron, barberries, almonds
broken baklava, labneh
ashta cream, honey syrup, sumac muddled strawberry
pistachio cake, orange blossom water, pomegranate molasses, flower jam
Traditional Turkish Coffee
prepared tableside in traditional cezve
Moroccan Mint Tea
hand rolled organic green tea and organic peppermint