Iftar at Paramount Fine Foods in Richmond Hill
I was really excited to break fast outside of my home. First time for us as a family this Ramadan. After days of cooking while keeping eighteen hour fasts; it was a welcome relief! We didn’t know where we wanted to go, we just jumped in the car and drove. After some negotiation, we decided on Paramount Fine Foods in Richmond Hill.
Paramount Fine Foods is quite popular these days. In the past, I’ve described it as a few steps up from your typical shawarma place. Maybe the Middle Eastern equivallent to McDonalds with the kids play area and cafeteria style ordering. But with the decor and ambiance being on the more elegant side, it’s hard to really class this restaurant.
We came in at the perfect time. Just under an hour left to go. We got to choose where we wanted to sit since the place was still fairly empty. My husband wanted to sit outside on the patio and after a bit of hesitation I agreed. I tend to like my food without mosquitos, but the weather was nice and I thought it would be a good change.
Settling in I was happy with our choice to sit outside. It was much quieter than inside, more private, air was fresh and not a mosquito in sight. We grabbed one of the servers to ask them when was the best time to order for iftar and they told us about fifteen minutes before maghrib so that we could get our food fresh and right on time. Taking their advice, we continued to wait.
Half an hour in I managed to have a full tour of the place. Love the concept of the different food and beverage stations, however they were not staffed when I went around (even though there was product available) so ordering was an issue. The washroom was clean, there was a baby change station and enough room to move around with a stroller if you had to bring it in. The play area was small in relation to the the size of the dining area and considering the amount of kids you could potentially have; yet the children seemed content. I felt bad for the tables that were directly in front of the play area as small lineups were forming of kids waiting for their turn (unless those table had kids, then it would be pretty convenient!) The interior dining space was huge. You could bring in large gatherings for sure. Outside was more limited with space, but there was at least one table that I noticed outside that could host ten people.
Fifteen minutes before sunset we (when I say we I mean just my husband) went to order food. To be totally honest, I was completely lost with the front end of the store so I didn’t even want to attempt to go with him. Multiple lines, different cash registers, servers whipping around in different directions — it seemed chaotic and the closer it got to iftar the chaos only seemed to heighten. I’m a firm believer in the chaos theory so I decided to hold judgement until I could see how the rest of the night went.
Within fifteen minutes two out of the three dishes we ordered arrived. So far so good. Dates and water were provided with our meals even though we didn’t opt for one of their daily iftar specials.
First up was the kaboodi kebab platter with rice $11.99. The kebab was nicely seasoned and tender, very mild yet still very flavourful, a hit with both of my kids. I would have liked to have larger kebabs or an additional one of the same size for the price, but it was sufficient in the end.
Second was hubby’s dish, chicken and beef shawarma plate with fries $11.95. A large platter with heaps of chicken and meat sitting on top of a freshly baked pita with just the right amount of garnish was presented. At first I was worried that we had to eat with the pita that was under all the meat so I started to work out a plan on how to take it out without causing a huge mess. Thankfully, the server brought out two additional very fresh, puffy, baked-on-premisis pita after a minute for both the kaboodi and the shawarma platters.
Digging in to the shawarma, both the chicken and beef were tender and flavourful. A common occurrence specifically with chicken shawarma that I often notice is the edges tend to get hard because it dries out quickly, not at Paramount Fine Foods. I didn’t find it to be dry at all and was really happy overall. The best thing about the everything so far was their fresh pita. It made their meals that much more special.
I decided to order light for myself. Chicken with cheese manakeesh $3.99. Manakeesh is a Lebanese style flat bread with toppings, similar to pizza. Another fifteen minutes had passed and my order never arrived. I had to flag down a server to inquire what had happened. Customer service is so great though I wasn’t annoyed solely because they showed genuine concern. The server brought my Manakeesh within two minutes and apologized. I didn’t mind in the end. The manakeesh was just enough food for me. At a very competitive price, it’s a really popular option with many varieties to choose from.
After our meal finished, we went in all together to pay at the cash register. Clouds of smoke-filled the place, I’m really thankful now that we did sit out on the patio. Tip: take the opportunity if there’s patio space!
In the end, I feel that there is in fact order in chaos. Order coming from the great customer service and delicious food options. Overall, Paramount Fine Foods is a wonderful place to enjoy Lebanese food in a modern, clean and spacious atmosphere. With so many different options you could never really get bored and there’s always something new to try. Next time I hope I can order some coffee and baklava. Can’t wait to go back!
Meat Source: According to Paramount, their meat is all from hand slaughtered sources.
Visit their website for information on various locations.