Montreal has always been an eater’s city; a destination for people who like to eat. Montreal boasts the largest number of restaurants per capita in all of North America. It goes without saying that when you’re in the mood for something in particular, not only will your options be readily available, but most often than not, you’ll have a choice – a variable buffet of places that you can chose from to satiate your current craving. Recently a spot opened up in St. Henri that went out of its way to bring the cuisine of the middle-east to the people of the south-west; introducing it to some and then being an accessible option to others.
I hit up this new spot in the south-west for a little taste of the middle-east. Sumac Restaurant is the latest addition to the rapidly expanding roster of eateries located in the area. Right when you walk in what you’ll notice is how open the space is and the clear line of sight you have into the kitchen when ordering at the counter. This open layout definitely facilitates the permeation and perfuming of the joint with the deep pungent smells of robust middle-eastern fare.
I had the falafel plate; served with grilled pita, hummus, tahina, pickled turnip and choice of two salads. The pita at Sumac is light grilled on the outside and ridiculously soft, supple and sweet on the inside. Each bite is like nibbling on the fat little cheeks of my six year old nephew, without the yelling and crying and the punch to the groin.
These awesome falafel nuggets were fried to a crunchy golden shell while remaining fluffy and soft in the middle; peppered with savoury aromatics whose aroma was what was flirting with your nose-holes when you walked in. The tender bite of falafel was strong in coriander and cumin.
The two mezze salads I chose were the “cooked salad” – slow cooked tomatoes with roasted red peppers, the other, fried eggplant with harissa, preserved lemon and coriander. The tomato “salad” was sweet and not overly acidic common with stewed tomatoes, this probably was attributed to the sweet bell peppers and the a longer cooking time that helped mellow out the tomatoes. The eggplant was tangy from the lemons which complimented the harissa and managed to bring out its flavour and aroma; a little bit a smokiness with hits of garlic and coriander.
The chicken shawarma pita is served with in a grilled pita with hummus, tahina, chopped salad, white and purple cabbage with pickled turnip. The chicken was seasoned well and juicy. The creaminess of the hummus and tahini made each mouthful dense and satisfying and well worth the money. Opened up into a pocket, the pita did succumb to the overflowing of filling and forced grip used to squeeze the sucker closed to stuff it in your gob. Despite the efforts made by the kitchen to maintain the sandwich’s structural integrity by wrapping it up in parchment and serving it propped up in a bowl, it fell apart half way in, but in no way is that a bad thing… just don’t try to eat it while driving.
My girl and I split the hummus and fries, which was a huge order of amazing fries drizzled with tahini, topped with a very generous heaping of hummus and peppered with sumac. The fries themselves were great; nice crunch on the outside, fluffy on the inside. The plate was huge and is definitely something you want to share with someone, unless you love fries, then this can be a meal in itself. The sumac offered a subtle tartness over the heaviness of the dish, as did the parsley garnish.
Ordering is a bit awkward if you’ve never been before. Giant menu posted on the wall renders you that asshole standing in front of the line, holding up everyone else’s lunch hour because you didn’t do your homework before you arrived. Platers don’t come with anything, but plates come with a choice of two salads. Sandwiches don’t come with anything either, but if you order a salad plate, then your order comes with grilled pita, hummus, tahina, pickled turnip as do the Hummus & Baba… following?
3618 Notre Dame O.