Levant Restaurant, Authentic Middle Eastern Food
Quickly: say the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of Middle Eastern Food.
Have your answer?
If it was shawarma, according to Haifa — chef at newly opened Levant Restaurant in Vaughan — you need to visit her family restaurant. Shawarma is a type of Middle Eastern food, but in no way should it define Middle Eastern food.
Try Ma’alobeh, Bamyeh tagine or Kashkole, staples in many homes across Palestine and Jordan where Haifa and her family hail from.
Levant Restaurant is focused mainly on providing its patrons home cooked meals in a relaxed setting. You can almost feel the air change when you walk in from outside of the busy plaza. “I want to give parents and people in general a place to relax and unwind from their busy lives”. The decor is plush but has a modern Eastern feel. It’s cozy with ample booths adorned with plush pillows, yet refined with full tableware.
First up is a shot of Turkish coffee to open and get your appetite ready as you peruse the well-balanced menu. If you love lamb, you’re going to love this menu. There’s a lot of it.
We decide to order Mansaff ($19.99) lamb cooked in dry yogurt. Surrah (18.99) grilled seasoned chicken with side of rice and vegetables stuffed in a phyllo pastry and Beef Kebab ( (because I like red meat!). Their salads seemed really fresh, I was torn between Mango and Avocado Salad ($6.99), but went with the latter. The avocado salad was really interesting, the different tastes and textures all tied in together with their special house dressing hit the spot. It was more satisfying than a regular salad but light enough to still be able to enjoy the rest of dinner.
As we waited for our order to arrive we were given complementary olive and carrot type of compote (except savory vs. sweet) with fried chips to munch on. The portion was generous and overall very well received. It was salsa without the kick, but absolutely no lack of flavour.
Admittedly, I have never tasted real home cooked Middle Eastern food before. This was a learning experience and a food adventure because I was discovering a new type of food — exactly what Haifa and her family want in Levant Restaurant.
What I love about this place is the passion. The whole family is there helping and they all have their heart in Levant Restaurant.
Our dishes came up, not in record time, which was fine — because everything is made as fresh as possible. We hardly noticed though as we were busy chatting and nibbling on the yummy olive and carrot dip with chips.
The food arrived and looked almost identical to the pictures in the menu! Mansaff (lamb cooked in dry yogurt) is a Jordanian comfort food at its prime and very similar to South Asian Kadhi (yogurt curry). You mix the rehydrated yogurt soup with the rice and lamb then eat together.
My personal favourite out of the three main courses was Surrah. Surrah literally means pouch, sack or vessel and in this case their Surrah contained flavourful rice and vegetable.
My favourite part of any evening is dessert and it just so happens to be Haifa’s passion as a trained and award winning pastry chef. She develops and creates all of Levant Restaurant’s desserts. Her Mango Cheesecake is nothing short of perfect. It’s light, airy and creamy.
I would compare their portions and price to more on the medium to higher end for main courses as most if not all are just under the $20 mark, except for seafood dishes which are slightly higher. I might not take my kids here on their birthday, but I would come back maybe with a close friend, parents or husband on a special occasion where I want a special environment in another world where I can escape for a couple of hours. You are going to get spectacular, professional service and hopefully learn something new about Middle Eastern food.
Let us know what you thought of Levant Restaurant and their Middle Eastern food!
Concord, ON L4K 5Y6