What’s on the menu at Taline, a new Armenian restaurant in Rosedale
It’s from the former head chef of Mamakas Taverna
Contact: 1276 Yonge St., talineto.ca, @talineto
Owners: Sebouh, Serouj and Saro Yacoubian
Chefs: Sebouh Yacoubian (Mamakas Taverna)
Accessibility: Not fully accessible
Named for their late mother, Taline is run by chef Sebouh Yacoubian and his brothers, Serouj and Saro. For his menu, chef Seb took a few pages from his mom’s cookbook and rewrote them in light of his classical French culinary training. Seb’s mantra is to cook from the heart—just like his mother, who died when he was 16. At the same time, he’s pushing the boundaries of how people perceive Armenian and Lebanese food—it’s not just shawarma and kebab.
Seb’s culinary education began at home, watching cooking shows. “I was that weird 11-year-old kid watching Emeril Lagasse on Saturday mornings while everyone else was watching cartoons,” he recalls. “I just fell in love with how you can speak through food.”
At 14, Seb became a prep cook in Massimo Capra’s kitchen. He was in the big leagues—and he was hooked. He went on to formally train at the Culinary Institute of America and Toronto’s Liaison College. “I never thought in a million years I’d have a restaurant with my two younger brothers. We sit down and have business meetings together. It’s cool. It’s different. I used to be like their co-parent after my mom passed, but now they’re my partners.”
The menu is adapted from Taline’s own recipes and tells the story of her upbringing. Seb has also incorporated the flavour of childhood memories: the taste of sweet cantaloupe on vacation in Armenia, the toasted sunflower seeds rolled up in newspapers and sold on street corners, and the arak that people often drink when fishing in Lebanon. The Yacoubians also have a hand in growing and selecting local ingredients—all the microgreens they use are grown hydroponically with the help of Krop in Vaughan, and they have their own beehive at Vosgi Honey in King City.
Taline has recently started bottling their own orange wine with local winemaker Norman Hardie. “In Armenia, it’s all about skin-contact wines,” says Seb, so an orange wine felt appropriate. They’re also in the process of producing their own arak, a flavoured spirit made of grapes and aniseed that’s prominent in the Levant and the eastern Mediterranean region. Keeping with the theme, cocktails play up flavours of tahini, orange blossom and fresh herbs.
The two-storey restaurant is soaked in warm lighting, and the olive-green, brown and copper tones represent Taline’s favourite colours. On the main floor, it’s all exposed brick and leather banquettes. Upstairs, decorated ceilings and stained-glass windows frame a gorgeous skylight. Custom art by Toronto-based husband-and-wife duo Karagusi line the walls, and a seven-foot-tall olive tree is the room’s centrepiece.