Introducing: Byblos, a new Mediterranean restaurant from Toronto nightlife king Charles Khabouth
Contact Info: 11 Duncan St., 647-660-0909, byblostoronto.com, @ByblosToronto
Neighbourhood: Entertainment District
Owner: Charles Khabouth and Harif Harji, who together own a good chunk of Toronto’s dining and boozing scene, including nearby Patria and Weslodge
Executive Chef: Patria chef Stuart Cameron
Chef de Cuisine: Patria sous-chef Jennifer Nickle
The Food: Byblos is the latest (and most upscale) in a string of Mediterranean eateries to open in Toronto. Chefs Cameron and Nickle focus on dishes from Greece, Morocco, Israel, Lebanon and Turkey. Shareable plates include house-made labneh, hand-rolled couscous and whole char-grilled fish. Baked basmati rice dishes are flavoured with things like saffron and preserved lemon and served in big earthenware pots.
The Drinks: Mixologist Wes Galloway infuses his cocktails with exotic flavourings like pistachio and fenugreek. Lebanese arak, an anise-flavoured liquor similar to sambuca, is ceremoniously served tableside.
The Place: Housed in the former Grey Goose Soho House space, Byblos is two restaurants in one: a lower-level dining room and an upstairs lounge with a smaller menu and larger cocktail list. The design throughout is bright and informal, with vaulted white-brick ceilings and shelves lined with Turkish coffee pots and decorative ceramics.
• 5000 BC when Byblos, believed to be the world’s oldest city, was first settled
• 70 seats
• 4 baked rice dishes, including Mejadra rice (pictured above), topped with lentils, fried shallots and yoghurt
• 1 daily punch bowl