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Restaurants

The Pomegranate Restaurant

Posted by Charlotte Johnstone / Reviewed on August 3, 2009 / review policy

Pomegranate Exterior"The Pomegranate! You have to go" my friend assailed me a few months ago while we were discussing the spoils of Little Italy. I went there last night and it was..." (insert eye-roll clearly indicating a rapturous experience).

As she isn't someone who's prone to exaggeration, I made a mental note to make The Pomegranate the destination the next time I got a hankering for Iranian food.
Pomegranate InteriorSo I headed to The Pomegranate last week and briefly loitered outside to compare menus with its newer, 'little sister' restaurant, Sheherzade, which is helpfully situated right next to its older sibling. As Sheherzade is more of a kabob-centric grill, and we were in the mood for stews, we stuck to our original choice.
Pomegranate FurnishingsThe experience of stepping inside The Pomegranate is a bit like entering into a certain famous C.S Lewis wardrobe. Illuminated with softly diffused light from the lanterns suspended from a bright turquoise ceiling, the interior is resplendent with all kinds of Iranian furnishings, from rugs to a tiled goldfish pool.

The hubbub of College and Bathurst suddenly seems much further away than the half block of route reversal it really is.Pomegranate InteriorA server acting as hostess immediately approaches us to ask if we have reservations. I look around the half empty restaurant, and reply: "no, we don't."

She looks me up and down while she peers at a notepad that I can see has a very short list on it. I ask if the restaurant is fully booked; she looks a bit flustered and says no, then asks "well, what time is it anyway?"

We tell her it's just after 7, and she gestures at an empty table for two (one of several available). "That's booked at 8.30, can you be finished by then?" she asks.

As my companion and I are getting a bit perplexed by being detained for no obvious reason, we agree to be finished within 90 minutes and take the table offered.

It's a bit of an odd start but, thankfully, turns out to be the only blip in the entire experience. We can't help noticing though that when we leave (at 8.40, no-one arrives to claim the table) that apart from one large party, the restaurant is no more full than when we arrived.
Pomegranate GoldfishOnce seated we have a different, very knowledgeable server that gives us a lot of good advice on our respective selections.
Pomegranate Mint TeaWe order a fresh mint tea ($1.50) and a doogh ($3), a non-sweet yoghurt-based fermented drink that's diluted with water and has a slightly thicker consistency than milk.
Pomegranate DooghThe doogh arrives dusted with rose and looks beautiful. Rather than being filling, it's so refreshing and delicious that I finish it long before our entrees arrive.
Pomegranate DipAs a shared appetizer we order the kashk-e bademjaan ($6.95), a charred eggplant, garlic and walnut dip made with tangy Persian whey. A generous portion, even for two people, arrives warm and topped with rings of caramelized, crisp onion. The combination of walnuts and curds make the dip rich without being too creamy.
Pomegranate StewWe split entrees of the most popular dish on the menu, fesenjaan ($14.50) and qeymeh ($14.95).

The fesenjaan is rich stew made with ground walnuts and pomegranate that comes either vegetarian or with chicken, we opt for the chicken. And it's immediately obvious why it's the most popular dish. The fesenjaan is so deeply flavourful that it alone justifies a trip to Pomegranate. The fruit itself works extremely well in the savoury sauce, adding nuttiness and a little sweetness to the meat.
Pomegranate StewQeymeh is a regular fixture on the menu, a mix of tender lamb, yellow split peas, tomatoes and tart dried lime which infuses the stew with a strong citrus-oil flavour. We pick a daily special version that comes with the addition of huge chunks of well-sauteed eggplant which adds even more meatiness to the consistency of the stew.
Pomegranate Wall PhotoDespite the initial seating negotiations, Pomegranate turned out to be a very worthy recommendation.

The food, drinks and restaurant environment were all sublime. The service was quick and we were well advised and attended to throughout the meal.

Pomegranate is a very welcome option if you feel like something completely different to, or just less boozy/casual than Sneaky Dee's or Nirvana.

Photos by Emma McIntyre

Discussion

19 Comments

Sina / August 3, 2009 at 01:46 am
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Best persian food in town, Im half persian my self and I've been to Iran twice but this place is magical, very warm and nice people and they represent the true side of my country and Im proud to see the resturant and that aside food is great all traditional persian food which I enjoyed it very much... 110% recomended
piccola / August 3, 2009 at 09:46 am
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This is my default dinner-with-guests place: good food, good service, not super expensive (but not too cheap). I first walked in with a friend after the cooking smells wafted out onto College St. and lured us there. One of my go-to places for sure.
Paul / August 3, 2009 at 10:38 am
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Excellent food. Excellent ambiance. Excellent service.
jody / August 3, 2009 at 01:24 pm
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I will NEVER go back here! Beware if you or anyone you know has a peanut allergy be careful, they use pre-ground pistachios sourced from Iran which contain ground peanuts as a filler. I have a severe peanut allergy and informed my server of this at the outset of my first and last visit. Upon taking one bite of my food I began the symptoms of the reaction that I get when I consume peanuts (I have NO other food allergies). I consulted with the co-owner Danielle Schrage and she informed me that they use no peanut products, and that it was impossible that I had consumed peanuts as "peanuts are not used in persian cuisine" to paraphrase. With little time to waste arguing with the owner I left for the hospital and the 3 hour spell in the emergency room to get the shots I needed for the reaction to subside. The following day I called the restaurant and was flat out told that it was impossible that I consumed peanuts since they dont serve them, even though they acknowledge that the nuts they buy are pre-ground. To clarify my position to any readers, or to Danielle Schrage and Alireza Fashrashrafi, the owners who may be reading this, I'm not upset that I consumed the peanuts, nor am I insinuating that there was any previous knowledge that peanuts have infiltrated the dishes you serve. It was an honest mistake. I didn't die. It's all good. What is NOT all good is that immediately following this incident the restaurant refused to take any responsibility, offer any sort of apology and worst of all, to my knowledge, have made NO steps whatsoever to inform their customers that many dishes they serve contain peanuts, something that is not an uncommon allergy and tends to be a serious one for many individuals. Personally I find it appalling that a restaurant would refuse to inform their customers of a potentially fatal ingredient used in their food. At best, this is willfully ignorant and displaying a serious disregard for the well being of their customers and humans in general, at worst, criminal.
Jerry / August 3, 2009 at 08:24 pm
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I have been before and although the food was pretty tasty I found it kind of expensive considering what it was.

To the poster above, you make a very good point. If this is the case they should point it out in the menu.
Smiley / August 4, 2009 at 12:03 am
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Ah! At last the secret has been revealed... but thank you, Charlotte, for a nice review.
This is one of my staple restaurants in town whenever I have guests coming over to TO.
My favourite dish is morasa polo (jewelled rice) and any stew on the menu is great, too. It seems a tad pricey on the menu, but the food they serve is fragrant and very satisfying, portion and quality both good, so I think you would think the price is quite all right once you enjoyed the meal.
My friend from Iran says North on Steeles is more of his choice as a restaurant, saying the food at Pomegranate is just like the food he gets at home, but I like the homeyness of Pomegranate.
The place can be a bit busy even on weekdays, so I always call up before I head out and ask for a table in advance. If the answering machine is on you can leave your name, phone number, time, and number of guests, then they will call you back to confirm.
I have severe seafood allergy myself so this place is one of a few places where I can enjoy nice meal at ease. It's really too bad about Jody, because this is a great place for people with fish allergy to dine out.
get to know your Toronto / August 4, 2009 at 10:11 am
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East of Bathurst is NOT Little Italy.
Charlotte / August 4, 2009 at 11:11 am
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Get to know...
We were having a meandering (and boring to reproduce) conversation about Little Italy which eventually led to my friend bringing up The Pomegranate but the review doesn't refer to the restaurant as being 'in' Little Italy.

I can see how it's easy to draw that conclusion though, my apologies for not making a clear distinction.

Disparishun / August 4, 2009 at 12:49 pm
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I think the comment above refers to the BlogTO posting entitled <a href="http://www.blogto.com/announcements/2009/08/persian_food_in_little_italy/";>Persian Food in Little Italy</a>, and captioned "The Pomegranate Restaurant is one of Little Italy's finest non-Italian offerings."
Jo / August 7, 2009 at 09:20 pm
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I LOVE this restaurant!! The food is amazing and reasonably priced. The owners are gracious and welcoming. I am always recommending it to people. I must re-visit this place soon as it's been awhile since I was last there.
semi replying to a comment from jody / October 3, 2011 at 11:06 am
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Jody, too bad the experience ended up almost killing you. It's rather outright irresponsible, indifferent, and unacceptable of the owners taking that type of passive manner to deal with this accident, which could be such a good chance to take stance and revise this fatal fallacy. I,myself is not allergic to anything, but I witnessed how this could be a tragic accident. Instead taking a more positive and preventative action afterward, the owners decided to take such a defensive route, which can be anothers' death trap anytime in the future.
Pomegranate. I love the food you guys pull of, but please please do something about this. otherwise, when real tragedy happens, everything is too late.
Torteh / January 30, 2012 at 04:55 pm
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Good food, service and its a very nice place.. Avrg price is $20 per person
gxt / March 18, 2012 at 09:57 pm
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I went out for dinner yesterday with a couple of friends, and the experience was pretty good. The decor was tasteful but homey, the service decent (although I wish the waitress would've been more prompt about filling our bread basket -- we ordered 2 different types of dip for appetizers), and the food was pretty good. The fesenjaan was a bit too sweet for my tastes, but that's just my own opinion. I wouldn't mind going back, as long as I order an entree that's less sweet (the qeymeh, perhaps?).
Sam / January 28, 2013 at 10:30 am
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As an Iranian, I would not pick this restaurant as the first place to introduce my guests to Persian cuisine.

If authenticity is important to you, this restaurant's food will not live up to its name. It is a hybrid of Persian and their "own twist" to classic Persian recipes.

Native Iranians will most often request Persian restaurants in the Yonge/Steeles corridor.
rosha / May 24, 2013 at 12:57 am
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THIS PLACE IS RAN BY WHITE PEOPLE LMAO
Peeshee / December 13, 2013 at 01:14 pm
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Rosha:

I take great offense at your comment. I am "white", but married to a Persian. I cook all the persian food and it compares incredibly well to what is found back "home". The recipes are from my husband's family and my sister-in-laws have talked me through them all, pointing out the finer points of preparing these dishes using persian cooking techniques. There is no reason that a "white" person could not produce great persian food. My fesenjan and aash-e-jo is better than both my sister-in-laws' ,they even admit to it (not taroffing). Your comment only shows your elitest attutide, not Anar's (Pomegranate's) ability to produce an excellent selection of traditional Persian dishes. The only complaint I have ever had eating there, is that sometimes I would like Jojeh (grilled chicken) with my khorest (stew) and Anar doesn't have a grill.
shashana / August 9, 2014 at 07:19 pm
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This restaurant needs to up its service. Just like North in Vaughan they might have seen 10000 customers but they must improve their kindness, patience, service, gratitude, saying welcome and SMILE
Allen replying to a comment from rosha / October 15, 2014 at 11:40 pm
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Do you realize Iranians have pretty fair complexions too? They can be considered as white. The people's skin colour range from caucasian white to olived tan.

I'm pretty sure one person in every single race of all colour knows how to cook since the most basic human survival need is to consume food.
Vinnie / November 6, 2014 at 04:57 pm
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No one is married to a "Persian" because Persian is a language. The country is Iran and the people there are Iranian. Now the photo above ensures I do not try/dine at Pomegranate. baby in restaurant = noise and headache No thanks I go out to enjoy, relax and be entertained with atmosphere and food not hear Oooooaaaaaaaaa

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