What’s on the menu at the Haifa Room, an Ossington restaurant serving creative takes on Palestinian and Israeli dishes
Name: The Haifa Room
Contact: 224 Ossington Ave., thehaifaroom.com, @thehaifaroom
Neighbourhood: Trinity Bellwoods
Previously: Schmaltz Appetizing
Owners: Waseem Dabdoub, Joseph Eastwood, Fadi Hakim
Chef: Jason Hemi
Accessibility: Not accessible
The Haifa Room started as a takeaway window during the pandemic, serving things like falafel and sabich. That window is still open for lunch, but a full-fledged restaurant was always part of the plan. The owners and chef, all close friends, collaborated on a tight menu that draws on their Palestinian and Israeli backgrounds. But here, everyone co-exists peacefully… mostly. “Do we fight? Sure. We fight about glassware,” says Dabdoub. Small plates meant for sharing and snacking feature heavily—think deep-fried halloumi sticks with a harissa-labneh dipping sauce, or lamb kibbeh “torpedos” with sumac-yogurt dip. A few hearty mains and desserts round out the selection, like the meltingly tender, shawarma-spiced boneless lamb shoulder, or a vegan stuffed eggplant.
There’s a small wine list, including two labels from Israel; Pilsner Urquell and a couple of brews from Blood Brothers; and a cocktail menu made up of classics and some playful novelties. Notable is the Haifa Room’s answer to a gin and tonic: the Grapes of Bay is a refreshing concoction that incorporates muddled grapes and sage. If you want bubbles over booze, there’s sparkling water from local producer Lark.
The gorgeous heritage building, complete with vaulted ceilings and exposed brick, lends the space a cozy, lived-in feel. Counter-height bar seats are cozier than your usual towering perches, and big windows lining two walls let in plenty of light—and in the evening hours, the infectious buzz of the neighbourhood.