[Review] Byblos, Eastern Mediterranean cuisine

Website: http://byblostoronto.com, @ByblosToronto (Twitter)
Address: 11 Duncan St., Toronto, ON
When I visited: February 2015, dinner, 4 people
Rating: $$$$, 5

I heard so much about Byblos from blogger friends, and the cold winter in Toronto did not stop me from visiting the restaurant. From the same owners as Patria and Weslodge, Charles Khabouth and Harif Harji opened up Byblos in the heart of the entertainment district.  The Executive Chef Stuart Cameron had created family style dishes with influences from various Eastern Mediterranean countries including Morocco, Israel, Lebanon and Turkey.

Byblos has two floors, with the dining room on the lower-level. The restaurant is narrow with a long bar that stretches along one side of the restaurant. The light is dim, providing a cozy dining experience in the evening.

Here is what we ordered, and ranked in order of my preference. (I do apologize for the quality of my photos due to the dark lighting)

1. Dry Aged Ribeye with za’atar butter and smoked eggplant ($41). This was SO delicious! The meat was juicy and absolutely tender!

Dry aged ribeye

Dry aged ribeye

2. Turkish Manti Dumplings with smokey eggplant, yogurt Sauce and molasses ($14). I liked the soft dunpling wrappers and the sauce, although the dumplings had little fillings.

Turkish dumplings

Turkish dumplings

3. Fig Salad with orange blossom honey vinegar, ackawi cheese, kohlrabi and pistachio ($14). I loved the salty feta like cheese from Israel, which made the salad more hearty. I am inspired to make a homemade version of this soon!

Fig salad

Fig salad

4. Organic House Labneh  with fennel, honey, olive oil and barbari bread ($9). I forgot to take a picture. This is a Middle Eastern staple and a must have.

5. Crispy Eggplant with tahini aioli, Bayildi sauce and basturma ($12). Eggplant is often a hit or miss for me, as I dislike it when the texture is too mushy (unless it’s baba ghanoush). At Byblos, the eggplant is prepared like polenta fries, making it appetizing to look at and fun to eat.

Crispy eggplant

Crispy eggplant

6. Oxtail Basmati Rice with bing cherries, kale, fried shallots and house yogurt ($22). The rice does not photograph well but it was flavourful. I wonder if the chef cooked it with beef broth?
Oxtail rice

Oxtail rice

7. Duck Kibbeh with dried fig, date molasses, and tahini ($13). Don’t let these small pieces fool you, the filling was dense.
Duck kabbeh

Duck kibbeh

8. Shakshouka with spicy tomato, yogurt, duck egg and Romy cheese ($11). This was a great value and filling. The duck egg provided a more salty balance to the sweet tomato sauce.

9. Baked Green Olives with harissa ($6). This baked version made it seem less salty with a softer bite.

Baked green olives

Baked green olives

The bar menu developed by Wes Galloway  had many cocktail selections. I had the virgin gulab with crushed ice, pomegranate reduction, lemon and fragrant rose-hip toppings and loved it!
Overall:
The restaurant is a bit on the pricier side for a casual night out but will be on my list of places to return with a group. I love the flavours of the Eastern Mediterranean seaboard…and that ribeye is really to-die for!
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Byblos Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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