Neighbourhood: King West / Downtown
I have a new found love for Mediterranean in the heart of Toronto. Off the busy intersection of King and John is the subtle entrance of Byblos. Byblos has always been on my list of places to try but I only wish I tried it earlier than later – better late than never though right?
My girlfriends and I came here on a Tuesday night for some tapas. When you step into the restaurant, it feels like you're stepping into a a European-mixed -Mediterranean home styled with a modern twist; tiles upon tiles of hues of orange, grey and pearl whites; singular-chandeliers shaped like upside down hookas; geometric shaped wooden light fixtures; and the texture of the original brick walls. It’s unique decor leaves a lasting impression when you enter and even after you leave.
The menu is setup so that each dish to meant to be shared. Since there were only three of us, we decided it was safe to order one item from each section and go from there. We started with some lighter but filling tapas to satisfy our hunger and ordered a second round of meatier options.
Of the breads, we tried the sujuk. When it was brought to our table, the first thing you'll notice is the smell of each layer of ingredient. The strong flavours of tomato paste paired well against the popular spice of the middle east, zatar. The bread was crisped to perfection and there was a perfect balance of bread and the inside goodness.
As tempting as it was to order the ceviche, we decided to see try a different raw fish tapa called, hamachi. Hamachi is what teamwork should taste like. The softness of the hamachi paired with the crunchy texture of the jalapeno, the heat was cooled by the cucumbers and the sweetness of the candied onions balanced out the lime and olive flavours.
I don’t typically order salad mostly due to the fact that they are so easy to make and simple for the cost. However, we were intrigued by the fig salad and it was well worth the $15. Vinaigrette was made with a flowery/fruity flavour which can either go well or terribly wrong, but we were impressed with how the vinaigrette complemented the rest of the ingredients. My favourite flavours from this salad were the combination of seeds: pine nuts, sunflower and fennel seeds.
You’ll never have lamb ribs like these. These ribs were sweet, nutty, juicy and refreshing with a hint of heat when dipped in the yogurt. This was one of my favourite tapa by far. The only unfortunate thing is it comes in small servings - you may want to order one for yourself!
Octopus is always a treat – I mean, when do you ever make octopus at home? This Spanish octopus dish was super meaty and tender with a slight chewy texture. It was served on a bed of red pepper paste and a thin slice of potato. Overall, the ingredients were completely unexpected but it was a pleasant combination.
We ended off dinner on a cold, sweet note. Clockwise from top left, pistachio, burnt honey and Turkish coffee with dark chocolate. I’m a sucker for coffee flavoured ice cream, especially when it’s paired with dark chocolate. It was literally to die for. The decadent flavours of the dark chocolate with the deep aromas of Turkish coffee. I honestly didn't want this to end. If was definitely on the sweeter side of the three, but worth it for those cheat days.