What’s on the menu at Miss Aida, a new Lebanese restaurant on Roncesvalles from the team at J’s Steak Frites
This time, there’s more than one main on the menu
Name: Miss Aida
Contact: 413 Roncesvalles Ave., missaida.ca, @missaidato
Neighbourhood: Roncesvalles Village
Owners: Jad Sfeir and Tara Tang
Chef: Mohamad Hazbawi (Laylak, Amal)
Accessibility: Not fully accessible
Last May, husband-and-wife team Jad Sfeir and Tara Tang opened J’s Steak Frites, a charmingly unfussy bistro that serves just one main dish (steak frites, obviously). Miss Aida, named after Sfeir’s mother, is an homage to his Lebanese roots. “In Lebanon, there’s a chef in every family, and my mother is the chef in mine,” he says. But this restaurant, which has been in development for nearly four years, didn’t come together until the right chef (Aida not being available) came along. When Sfeir and Tang met Mohamad Hazbawi—who left Lebanon as a child, carrying a figurative suitcase of flavour memory with him—the project started to gain momentum.
Then it was about finding the right location. Roncesvalles presents an attractive duality for would-be restaurateurs: it’s both a tight-knit neighbourhood with loyal locals and a destination for out-of-town visitors. To add to the street’s selection of bars, Miss Aida plans to introduce a late-night menu complementing its already robust wine list.
Hazbawi’s flavours are unmistakably Lebanese—fresh, vegetal and humming with the brightness of sumac, parsley and other aromatics ubiquitous in the region. His presentation is clean and deliberate: one dish is a curled tentacle of grilled octopus over neat cubes of beet, garnished with micro arugula and punctuated by negative space on the plate. When it comes to the menu, there’s no delineation between appetizers and mains. In true Lebanese fashion, it’s all meant to be eaten family style. Dessert, by Le Cordon Bleu–trained Tang, is freewheeling and creative, like a deconstructed take on baklawa (Lebanese baklava) with house-made pistachio ice cream.
Cocktails take cues from the Levantine region and are elevated with house-made touches, like a delectable chai syrup that underpins the bar’s take on an espresso martini. There are a couple of standard beer options, a tight by-the-glass menu and a roughly 30-label wine list, each of which includes options from Lebanon.
At first glance, it’s not necessarily apparent that this is a Lebanese restaurant. The room leans minimalist and modern, with subtle accents that hint at the menu’s heritage—traditional Lebanese tile work, a three-arch mirror and a display of fezzes nestled among the glassware. Along the back wall, there’s a portrait of Miss Aida herself keeping careful watch over the dining room.