Best New Restaurants 2015: #6, Byblos
The wonder of Charles Khabouth isn’t that he runs so many nightclubs and restaurants, and opens a new spot nearly every month; it’s that he does so with such exacting standards. With Byblos, he anticipated the city’s Middleterranean obsession, converting two floors of an unremarkable historic warehouse into a lounge of low-slung booths for sharing rosewater-scented punch and a contemporary dining room that hums with excitement. The principal reason? An endless parade of hand-painted platters of deliciousness. Plump, paprika-dusted Marcona almonds, dumplings stuffed with smoked eggplant, molasses-sticky lamb ribs, neat bundles of vine leaf–wrapped branzino, basmati rice bejewelled with barberries, and on and on. Byblos has surpassed trendiness and become a city fixture. I’ve returned several times, often just for a snack and a cocktail before a show at the TIFF Lightbox. And I always order the brik cigar—a brittle pastry filled with a fig purée and caramel. It’s light but rich, savoury but sweet, and, like Khabouth, it never gets tired.