Babel is a restaurant where cooking centres around an open hearth. This cooking method is used to showcase traditional Mediterranean flavours, ingredients and dishes.
Simit and pita ($7) are respectively crispy and fluffy, baked by O&B. The simit is oblong rather than round, both breads paired with tangy house labneh, sumac and olive oil.
Hummus ($12) is paired with O&B pita and topped with warm chickpeas, green harissa, grated tomato with garlic, sumac and Italian olive oil for a classic dip that still has something unexpected up its sleeve.
Falafel ($9) are crispy on the outside and dense on the inside, made fresh each day and plated with green harissa, tahini and olive oil.
Lamb meatball bites ($13) are don’t-miss, house-ground and combined with lemon zest and crunchy pine nuts. A bold red harissa and buttery tahini pack this tiny plate with flavour.
Roasted cauliflower for two ($18) makes for a banger of a starter. Who can resist slicing down into a whole head of cauliflower?
I love the colour that a secretive seasoning brings to the vegetable, and house labneh, pomegranate, sunflower seeds and berbere bring out further contrasts in texture.
Creamed burrata for two ($28) sees the creamy flavours of burrata paired with the acidity and bitterness of grilled confit Ontario Concord grapes as well as charred fennel and radicchio.
A vegetable slaw ($13) is a bit of an outlier, composed of tendrils of heirloom roots paired with cabbage, sesame, and a fresh citrus dressing, but makes for a good option for those looking for a light, raw, vegetarian option.
Cauliflower-stuffed vine leaves ($16) see fluffy cauliflower wrapped in juicy vine leaves and plated on top of labneh for dipping.
Boneless lamb shoulder ($36) is braised for five or six hours until it’s fall-apart tender, smothered in a savoury barbacoa sauce and plated in a tagine.
Couscous handmade at Parcheggio and house labneh provide a solid foundation for the meat, snappy spiced roots and pomegranate seeds breaking up the richness a bit.
An eight-ounce beef tenderloin kebab ($29) is given an herb marinade and grilled, then plated atop a grain and ginger pilaf with wheatberry, beluga lentils and fragrant onions caramelized over the course of four hours. Garlic tomatoes, greens and a lemon buried in embers accompany.
$10 spritzes and sangrias include a Pomegranate Spritz that punches up sparkling wine with chamomile syrup and pomegranate juice.