What’s on the new menu at Babel, a Mediterranean-inspired gem in North York

What’s on the new menu at Babel, a Mediterranean-inspired gem in North York

Chef Rosalin Keshishian serves up colourful reimaginations of her heritage and a mosaic of Mediterranean flavours

Warmer weather is upon us, the days are longer and Torontonians are all keen on diving back into the city’s treasure trove of a food scene. Tucked away by York Mills Shopping Centre in North York is Oliver & Bonacini’s Mediterranean- and Middle Eastern-inspired restaurant, Babel. From mocktails, cocktails, flatbreads and falafels to a variety of seafood and halal meat options cooked over an open flame in the kitchen’s 12-foot hearth, Chef de Cuisine Rosalin Keshishian and Head Bartender Joshua Chia are bringing explosive flavours from a mosaic of cultures to the Bayview and York Mills community with support from O&B’s District Chef, Andrew Piccinin.

Name: Babel
Contact: 305 York Mills Rd. Unit 19, babelrestaurant.ca, @babel.to
Neighbourhood: York Mills
Owners: Oliver & Bonacini Hospitality
Chef: Rosalin Keshishian
Seating: 134 seats indoors, including a private dining room that can host events for up to 52 guests
Accessibility: Fully accessible

The Food

It’s not often that a cut of meat that is generally on the gamier side can find a delicate balance and exist at the intersection of sweet, savoury, spicy and umami. But Babel’s Lamb Shank dish does precisely this. Braised in the Babel BBQ sauce, this lamb shank is served with labneh, roasted root vegetables and herbed couscous.

Delivering a beautifully balanced symphony of flavours by way of ingredients sourced from land to sea, chef Rosalin Keshishian has brought vibrancy in look and taste to every dish. “My passion for food came from my late grandmother and my mother. They were some of the best home cooks I’ve ever met, but they worked within the structures and rules, you could say, of what to serve and how to serve it. For me, there are no rules. Flavour and ingredients are a big ocean that you jump into and explore, and our menu is designed to help our guests explore with us,” shared Chef Rosie. “I developed our menu based on the season and the colours that season brings. There are a lot of cooking methods and foods from the places I’ve called home on the menu, but the Mediterranean is so vast, so you see that rainbow of flavours and techniques.”

From the hearth, the whole branzino is seasoned with “samke harra” marinade, spicy chili, cilantro and lemon, leaving it juicy, delicate and tender. On the flip side, the beef tenderloin kebab is equally juicy and tender, pairing perfectly with a fresh picada herb pesto. For a vegan option, opt for one of Chef Rosie’s favourite dishes, the grilled hen-of-the-woods mushroom.
End your meal with one of the best knafeh in town. Shredded phyllo meets fresh cheese topped with pistachio and a palate-pleasing orange blossom syrup. Feeling a little more indulgent? Top your warm knafeh with some pistachio ice cream.

Chef Rosie’s favourites on the menu? Babel’s freshly made hummus and pitas served with green harissa, tomato and marinated chickpeas, and from the hearth, the grilled hen-of-the-woods mushroom served alongside cauliflower purée and a garlic dukkah spice.

Every mouthful of the Smoky Charred Eggplant is rich, creamy and decadent. Layers of smoky eggplant dance with citrus, tahini and date molasses, while pistachios act as a nutty textural element.

The Drinks

With a bevy of options like wine by the glass and beer, the shining stars of Babel’s drink menu are actually their assortment of cocktails and mocktails. Head bartender Joshua Chia shared that he and the Babel team carefully and intentionally crafted the drink menu to both complement the food menu and stand alone as an experience in and of itself. “I love cocktails; they’re a great way to take anyone dining here on a journey. You’ll see a lot of Mediterranean flavours in both the cocktails and mocktails, from fresh pomegranate and passion fruit to saffron, apricot and even za’atar through our savoury housemade za’atar gomme syrup,” he shared.

Dive into a Babel favourite, the Nimbus. A lighter-than-air cocktail made of Prosecco, Dillon’s Selby gin and Angostura bitters garnished with a pistachio cloud, this cocktail is both delicious and the perfect visual experience as the pistachio cloud disintegrates the moment it hits your drink.

Falafel with a crispy outside and incredibly fluffy filling are diligently handmade daily, with every piece needing to be approved by Chef Rosie before it goes out.

Would you rather explore Babel’s spirit-free offerings? Get into our favourite, the Fatima. The Fatima was created for and named after a regular establishment guest who wanted to celebrate an educational milestone and accomplishment with Babel. A delicate balance of blueberry, pomegranate, lavender, hibiscus and lime juice, this mocktail is a sure way to refresh your palate between mouthwatering dishes.

Chef Rosie’s Sujuk Manti are earthy spice-laced handmade dumplings stuffed with housemade sausage and dusted with Aleppo pepper and sumac, and served over yogurt, making for a multi-textural experience hitting every part of your palate.

The Space

Sage greens, marbles, woods and gold tones, alongside the lush greenery throughout, make Babel a sun-drenched bohemian dream. The space is as soft and welcoming as it is picture-perfect. With a private dining area, bar and booth seating, and an unobstructed look at the hearth, Babel is equal parts eye candy and soul food.

Click here to explore Babel and book your reservation today.