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Daou delights with delectable delicacies

Barbara Moser

December, 2009

When you dine at Daou, be sure to go with a group. That way you can sample a selection of the restaurant’s delicacies.

This authentic Lebanese restaurant has two locations: 2373 Marcel Laurin in Ville St. Laurent, and the one we visited, at 519 Faillon E.

We went on a Thursday evening with our friends Avrum and Marnie, their daughter, Hardial, and her boyfriend, Addison. We constituted a rather large and demanding bunch of hungry and eager diners, which meant we got to sample many items from the long and luscious-sounding list of cold and hot appetizers. Most come in two sizes, and we opted mostly for the larger ones, which more than satisfied our pangs and palettes.

We sat in the centre of the sleekly decorated, airy room and were immediately greeted by our waiter, who served us complimentary pickled turnips, green olives and pita.

We were a somewhat complicated group and full of questions, but the waiter was calm as he walked around answering all our queries. He was obviously used to diners who don’t know their fatouche from their foule. We kept changing our minds about whether we wanted large or small portions and whether we wanted to order the chef’s suggestions of grilled meats ($25.95), a vegetarian platter ($18.95), combined platter ($21.50), and appetizer platter ($25.95). Two such dishes might be perfect for a couple, but for a group of six, sharing larger portions of appetizers seemed like a better option. Here are the dishes we finally settled on, in no particular order:

The feisty fatouche salad ($11.95 for the large size) was an entertaining mix of veggies, oil, lemon, small pieces of pita and Middle Eastern herbs that tasted like zatar or oregano. This was yummy and fed us all at regular intervals. It was indeed much bigger than it looked on the plate.

Ground chick peas with pine nuts (Hommus & Snoubar in Arabic; $10.25 for the large size). This is one of my favourite dishes, and at Daou it’s fresh, lemony – and hard to stop dipping your pita in. Marnie described it as not sticky, but light with texture as well as flavour.

Red pepper & walnut dip (Muha­mara $6.75). It’s an original and another of my favourites. It’s tangy and spreadable, but I wouldn’t advise too much spreading or you won’t have room for the other dishes.

Pressed cream yogourt with garlic (Labneh $6.95). You’ve never had it so good, except maybe in the Druze village of Daliat-el-Carmel, Israel.

Fava beans with oil, lemon and garlic (Foule $7.50). This filling, vegetarian Lebanese comfort food was done to perfection with just the right amount of garlic and lemon, although some in our party found it too salty.

Cooked meat stuffed with minced meat (Kebesanieh $9.95) This pie was a favourite with the meat lovers.

Cheese rolls (Rakakat $7.95). We gobbled these up fast. They’re wrapped in a flaky filo dough and filled with soft white cheese. A favourite of Addison’s. Lebanese sausage ($5.95 for a small portion) is done up in a rich tomato sauce. Irwin’s favourite.

Spinach pie ($2.25) and Thyme pie ($1.75) are not-so-little morsels meant for individual diners. The thyme pie was a puffed-up pita loaded with thyme, which Marnie thoroughly enjoyed. I dipped my spinach pie in a few dips.

Babaganoush ($8.95 for the large size). This blend of eggplant, sesame, garlic and lemon, was a masterpiece of smooth, mouth-watering goodness.

Of the stuffed vine leaves with either meat or rice, most of us preferred the vegetarian ones, although Irwin was a fan of the meaty ones. Even our $37 bottle of Lebanese wine was divine.

For dessert, we shared Daou’s homemade Ricotta Cheese Crêpe with pistacchio and rosewater – a medley of textures and flavours. Avrum and Irwin ordered Baklava, “like my mother never made,” Irwin said.

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