Empire Grill, Scarborough Scores Another Halal Restaurant

Empire Grill

By Mubeen and Zakir

When I first saw the flyer for Empire Grill, I was a little uncertain of what to expect from them. Curious as to which cuisine they served, I did what any experienced (self-proclaimed) foodie would do, I went to check Halal Foodie’s new Halal Directory… only to find nothing there. Realizing that we’d be the ones to let other people know about our experience at the restaurant, my comrade and I made plans to pay them a visit.

Situated on the south-east corner of Markham and Ellesmere, Empire Grill’s entrance sits on Ellesmere and they share a parking lot with the neighbouring Masjid Al-Jannah, on the rear side. The establishment is two weeks new and sits beside a PizzaNova on the corner of the facility. Although its vibrant sign was hard to miss, even as we walked towards the restaurant and observed the simply decorated exterior, we still weren’t sure what to expect inside. Once we stepped in though, we felt a familiarity to other establishments we’ve dined at before.

Empire Grill

Greeted by the owner hovering near the front desk, we took to our seats and observed the scene. The cozy venue can seat about 40 diners, with booths lined up along the walls, all under warm, ambient lighting. As we adjusted our eyes to the dim scene, we noticed that it was modestly decorated and made for a friendly and sociable experience. It was evident that Empire Grill was inspired by venues the likes of Affy’s and Crave Grill House, and when we started to read our menus we were reassured of their inspiration. Pastas, steaks, and gourmet pizza highlighted the menu, with varying choices of appetizers and salads. Despite the seeming influence, Empire Grill’s offerings are slightly unique. But unique enough to set them apart? We’ll have to see how they settle into their new business to find out!

A few minutes later, the owner, Siddique came to greet us and helped us through the menu. Friendly and charismatic, he highlighted the T-bone steak, BBQ ribs, and churrasco amongst other sandwiches and appetizers. Though we don’t usually eat steaks and ribs, we decided to order one of each upon his recommendation, as well as a gourmet pizza. Although the venue was empty, it took some time for our orders to come but, once it arrived, our eyes widened.

Empire Grill

Our 12” 3-topping gourmet pizza ($10) looked delicious, its wafting aroma aroused our interest instantly. With a thin, crispy bottom, soft and chewy dough and oozing cheese seasoned with the Chef’s ‘secret’ combination of herbs, its texture was on-point and definitely better than your typical take-out. We opted for salami, roasted peppers and sundried tomatoes and thoroughly enjoyed every bite. The best part was being able to take home the leftovers, and looking forward to eating the rest the next day.

Empire Grill

When Chef Siddique told me that the ribs would be worth the choice, he wasn’t kidding. An enourmous portion of BBQ ribs ($23) sat on a bed of creamy mashed potatoes and sautéed vegetables. The dish was completed by a coating of bbq sauce. I needed to request more sauce to finish the meal though, as it was a considerable amount of meat. It was a little tougher than I enjoy, however, it was flavourful and abundant none-the-less. The mashed potatoes stood out as well, with a hint of sweet and sour flavour. If only the dish came with a little more of the sides, it would have been a great meal. Nonetheless, I was pleased.

Empire Grill

Zakir ordered the T-bone steak ($15), which came glazed with bbq sauce and was accompanied by mashed potatoes & gravy and sautéed vegetables. Asking for the steak to be well done left it chewier than his preference (he should have ordered it medium-well), although expressed it was still quite tasty and delicious. The mashed potatoes were highlighted by the gravy as they were quite flavourful, and the sautéed vegetables were soft and succulent. Though his  jaw wasn’t used to this much chewing, he did enjoy the meal and would return again.

At the end, we were offered their complimentary tea and spoke to the owner for a little longer. He used to operate a South-Asian restaurant and over time decided to let it go, along with his grocery store, to open Empire Grill. He expressed his excitement to venture into this world and was looking forward to what the future holds. Open to comments and suggestions, he understood that it would be a work in progress. Noting that their service would need some improvement and that they should add a little more décor, they are still improving in different areas. However, this establishment is worth a visit and we would visit again to explore the rest of their menu.

Until then, we look forward to hearing your feedback.

Your Friendly Neighbourfood bloggers,

Cookie Mobster and Super Z
(Mubeen and Zakir)

 

Meat Source: Both chicken and beef are purchased from Madinah Halal, hand slaughtered halal sources.

Empire Grill
2201 Ellesmere Road
647-748-0688

 

By: March 3, 2014

19 Comments


  • That was the best article I have read about food in a very long time. Great work guys!


  • Wow, I have always passed by this place. I remember it was an Indian restaurant (I did try their food once, but not that great). Then it was a banquet hall. Now this (which I didn’t realize was halal). I’m excited to try this new place that’s so close to home. Thanks for a great review. Once I try it, I will comment again =).


  • I’m excited that more steakhouses are opening up in Scarborough!


  • The owner of this place is really nice,soft spoken and down to earth guy….


  • really looking forward to another option in halal steaks & ribs.


  • i went there to eat pizza , it taste like shit. Their price is very expensive than any store in scarborough. i am advising everyone who try to or plan to go there don’t pay tax with your price. they charge tax as cash and pocketed that money into them self. its totally illegal.
    Please everyone must be watchful and cautious


    • what an ignorant thing to say. the reason why they were only taking cash when they first opened was because they were waiting for their point of sale equipment to arrive from america. postage delayed its arrival. if you go now they have two POS systems (the square and the conventional). and the fact that they have been giving out receipts from their system make it impossible to hide anything even if they only accepted cash. please think before you throw such accusations!!!


    • I believe you were born cynical. You need to read and understand the Quran (English version is good enough) and hadith. It would help you to be a better Muslim and also teach you to appreciate and support the good in what you saw there. If you saw bad, you most probably assumed it so. To express yourself you laced it with un Islamic wording , thus in this effort you probably lied.

      Hide the faults of your Muslim brother and the Almighty will hide your faults. What happened here is that you exposed your faults to me when you tried to be cynical about the restaurant people.

      I have been there many times and the food is sumptuous. There could be a pizza that went bad and you got it. Next time let them know, or else you cannot help them to get better and we Muslims need Authentic Halal food over authentic cuisine.


  • Just another Kid on the Curb of Wishes on March 19, 2014

    Owner and chef are great to talk to. Place is small, cozy and quiet. Pizza, churrasco, ribs and sandwiches (beef and chicken) are great.

    Only issue is that the service is horrid and the wait time for food is quite lengthy. Otherwise, worth a visit for sure. Review was spot on.


  • Empire grill – I called today, March 29. The number is not in service!!


  • The diner itself was beautiful when walking in. There was amazing service, the waiters and servers were so kind, and friendly coming back checking if we needed anything every now and then. The food’s presentation was so mouth-watering; looking fresh. The meat was also so rich and juicy that it kept you wanting more! The pastas were very creamy like we have never tasted before. The appetizers were delicious; already impressing us. In general Empire Grill was one of the best restaurants we have been to in awhile, and I would recommend this to others greatly.


  • Great place to go with your family or friends. This place is authentic Italian. Even the simple pizza taste so good different from any other go down pizza joint. Ribs are humongous. T bone is like no other, awesome. Churrasco the only authentic place to go for this superb juicy Portuguese style spicy chicken.


  • Fabulous food, the Pizza is delicious, I will definitely visit them again


  • Is Tangerine Asian Cuisine on 2058 Ellesmere Rd #1
    Toronto, ON, halal?


  • I just came back from this place. I ordered a T-bone steak. However the waiter writes it down as ribs and brings in an order of ribs. On telling him that I ordered steak, he keeps on insisting it was ribs. After agreeing that he got the wrong order, all he said was sorry and that nothing can be done and I was forced to eat the ribs. He didn’t offer to reduce the price or offer any replacement. When you go with the mood to have a steak and you are forced to eat ribs. All that results in is a very unhappy unsatisfied customer, never ever thinking of visiting such a place again. On top of that the take away pizza was given in a foil. This place seriously needs to work on customer service and satisfaction !!!


  • I don’t except at all what you have just lied. Above all there are people like you who things that the customer is always right. BS. The wait staff is very kind and polite. The chef is so friendly he will do anything for customers satisfaction. I know there are Muslims like you who go around eat what you want and blame the wait staff or condem the food and get away without paying or insisting to give a discount on what you just filled your stomach with . If you don’t like the place keep it to your self do not promote hatred. This is a common sickness among our umma. It is harm to eat halal food that way. Let’s all give these new halal restaurant the best we can for them to prosper and serve the Muslim umma.
    I pray that Allah make these places success. Post only the good , keep the bad for yourself .


    • Well said bro. I just went all the way from Brampton for their burger. Well priced and juicy, cooked to perfection, never had a burger like this before. Awesome food and good service.


      • To Anam’s comment, they could be entirely correct. It isn’t impossible for them to have gotten the order wrong. You can’t call Anam out for bashing and spreading hatred, and then proceed to bash Anam for their comments. Ironic much? Maybe it did happen. It may have been a one-time mistake and just a bad day but, you can’t write it off as “bs” just to defend and support a new restaurant. It just means the restaurant may have work to do. No one is perfect.


  • Went to the place on 14th of August 2015. The restaurant is no longer in operation. If I am not mistaken, it is along Ellesmere, sharing the same building structure as Masjid-al-Jannah (Sri Lankan Islamic Foundation of Ontario). I could have got the address wrong. I was looking forward to dining in that place, especially since the numerous acknowledgement on the kind and gentle character of the restaurant owner. I pray that all is well with those involved in that business.


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