Beiruti Grand Cafe
Beiruti Grand Cafe inhabits a massive 13,000 square-foot space in a business park near Sheppard and Victoria Park. Jack Boyadjian and his family are behind the venture; They were previously one of the owners of Arz Fine Foods before it was acquired by Loblaws in 2014.
The restaurant boasts soaring ceilings that give the space an airy and open feel. Marble finishes, wood floors and Philippe Starck furniture contribute to the contemporary vibe.
You can see practically the entire menu behind the glass display cases. It's like an upscale French Middle Eastern cafeteria with baguette sandwiches, salads and quiches alongside flatbreads, pita wraps and mini lahmajoun.
The ahi tuna salad Niçoise ($14) is an especially pretty plate. The seared and sliced tuna has a rosy centre and comes served chilled over a bed of greens with lemon dressing. Everything is artfully arranged with avocado, kalamata olives, cherry tomatoes, green beans and half a hard boiled egg.
Hot options from the kitchen include skewers of chicken or beef (from $14) and Lebanese-style quarter chicken dinners ($12), all served with fries or rice and a side salad.
A selection of hot, pressed sandwiches includes a Lebanese-style pulled chicken pita topped with chopped tomatoes, pickles and lettuce. It comes with a sharp garlic paste.
I have the very satisfying braised lamb shank pita ($12) with feta and coriander salsa and fresh mint. It's served with an aioli dipping sauce and a side salad.
On the dessert front, there's a broad assortment of French pastries, chocolate confections and cakes made in house, as well as baklava, made-to-order crepes and gelato in flavours like sesame (tastes like halva) and ashta, clotted cream delicately infused with rosewater and recommended with a sprinkling of pistachios.
A latte crafted with Trucillo coffee and paired with a lemon raspberry macaron proves to be a delightful closer, especially since the macaron comes filled with both zesty buttercream and sweet tangy jam.
I'm stuffed, but I find myself eyeing the lineup of manakeesh and lahmajoun. The pre-packed, family-sized bags would surely fit in my freezer and make for easy lunches throughout the weeks to come.
Photos by Jesse Milns