Tabule Souk / by Didier Young

Bulgar wheat and diced tomatoes. Chopped parsley, green onion and fresh mint. Add in some olive oil, lemon juice, salt and black pepper. This is not a hot new recipe that I have just come up with as part of my New Years resolution but it does make for a nice salad. Those are the ingredients of tabule, one of the quintessential Middle Eastern dishes and the mixture immediately conjures up images of pita bread, delicious hummus and shakshuka dishes. It also happens to be the name of a restaurant in Toronto.

After opening up a first outpost at Yonge and Eglinton, the restaurant rapidly gained a reputation in the food community which lead to a second location opening in the East end of the city. My first visit to a Tabule was at the Leslieville location and I will admit to having gone back multiple times since. After the Athlete’s village of the Panam Games was turned into a residential neighbourhood called the Canary District, the owners of Tabule decided to make their mark in the area with Tabule Souk.

The location is a tad hard to find within the streets of the Canary District and required a bit of searching on my part before I was able to locate it. The restaurant is beautifully decorated with shelves of purchasable products on one side and white ceramic discs populating the other. The concept of the restaurant is slightly different from the other Tabule. While the other restaurants are dine-in institutions, at Tabule Souk you order and pay for your order at the cash register before having your meal brought to your table. In a sense, it does make the restaurant feel a tad more casual.

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We went to Souk for brunch and between the five of us, we ordered quite a few dishes so we could try a bit of everything. The highly photographed Full Souk was chosen along with the Hallum salad, Shashuka, phoenician fries and batata hara among other things. An assortment of honey cardamom lattes, turmeric chai lattes and tea arabesque formed part of our beverage order. The lattes were all delicious but do not go to the restaurant expecting an instagrammable one. The tea arabesque, a mix of mint and rose tea, was delightfully refreshing.

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On to the food, the chef’s plate consisted of different mezze included a purple hummus, babaganoush, labni, tabouleh and arabic slaw. The purple hummus was particularly good as the sweetness of the beets used in its preparation came through quite beautifully. The full souk included some of those mezze along with falafel and a lentil soup. The falafels were quite tasty and each of those plates could easily be shared between 3-4 people. We also ordered a bowl of plain hummus which was nicely seasoned and had a nice smooth texture. The house made pitas are thin and light and are quite reminiscent of crepes in that aspect.

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Shashuka is one of my favourite middle eastern “brunch” items and I am happy to say that I would definitely reorder the dish at Souk. It is worth noting that although some of the dishes fall under the brunch category, they are available to order at all times at the restaurant. The Phoenician fries were crowd pleasers and I was happily surprised by the Batata hara, another potato dish that might be closest compared to spiced potato hash.

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We feasted on so much food that we were unable to try out the desserts. However, if the sweet treats are as good as the savoury ones, they are worth the trip to the Souk.

-Didier