Paramount Fine Foods
Paramount Fine Foods has taken over the space of another superlative-named establishment; the venerable Superior restaurant that survived 15 years at 253 Yonge St. before closing its doors earlier this year.
Purveyors of traditional Lebanese cuisine and pastries, Paramount's other branches (one in Mississauga and the other in Thornhill) have enjoyed long lines of faithful customers who queue up for authentic pizzas, grilled specialties and freshly baked pastries.
My friend and I visited Paramount during its soft opening week and found the place a beehive of activity packed with curious customers eager to get a taste of the new restaurant.
We chose the hummus with meat ($6.99) as an appetizer. This comes with two large pieces of freshly baked and ballooning pita bread. Comprised of hummus paste, ample olive oil and pickled parsley, this dish is generously topped by slices of freshly grilled beef shawarma. The hummus was sublime but what really got our attention was the perfectly seasoned beef that was full of zesty grilled goodness.
Another large dish ideal to share is the mixed grill plate ($15.99). This features one skewer of strip loin chunks, one skewer of shish tawouk (grilled chicken), two skewers of aromatic kafta (grilled beef meatloaf) served with barbecued tomatoes and onions plus spicy bread, parboiled rice and mixed greens and pickles.
Admittedly a meat heavy dish, the mixed grill plate is large enough to satisfy two hungry carnivores with its heady selection of meat and sides.
I was partial to the strip loin chunks that were steak-like tender yet soaked in the smoky grilled flavour. The shish taouk chicken was equally soft and loaded with the taste of lime and spices. The kafta came off a little dry and possibly overcooked and was the least impressive of the selection.
For dessert, Sh'aibiyat ($1.50), which is a typical Syrian and Lebanese treat, brings together white cheese, filo pastry, crushed pistachios and syrup. Sweet and delicate in flavour, this pastry is one of the best things you could buy for a buck fifty.
Paramount also offers a stunning variety of Lebanese pizza (Manakeesh) and baked goods and has the largest wood oven I've seen. Its been said that they can manage up to 21 pies in one go.
The pastry and cookie selection is also extensive and we learned that everything is made by hand in Mississauga and baked on site.