What’s on the menu at Babel, O&B’s new Mediterranean restaurant in the Bridle Path

0
94


What’s on the menu at Babel, O&B’s new Mediterranean restaurant in the Bridle Path

Name: Babel
Contact: 305 York Mills Rd., 647-475-6240, babelrestaurant.ca, @babel.to
Neighbourhood: Bridle Path
Previously: Richtree Market
Owner: O&B Hospitality (Leña, Canoe, Auberge du Pommier, Parcheggio)
Chef: Corporate executive chef Anthony Walsh and chef de cuisine Aviv Moshe (Cluny)
Accessibility: Fully accessible

The food

If the Tower of Babel is an origin myth that seeks to explain why people speak different languages, then the restaurant Babel aims to show diners that food is a universal language without borders. Babel is Mediterranean in the broadest sense, with techniques and spices mixing and matching from across every country the sea touches. “There are 22 countries represented in this menu,” says Moshe, who was born in Montreal, raised in Tel Aviv and finds himself taking inspiration from the meals his mother used to make. Live-fire cooking is also at the heart of the menu, and the kitchen’s hearth roasts eggplants, slow-cooks lamb shoulders, chars fennel, and grills octopus and branzino.

Babel is baking their own version of Turkish simit (above right), which comes with sumac-dusted labneh and olive oil for dipping. $7.

 

This ball of burrata is intended to be shared. It comes with charred fennel, radicchio and concord grapes. Some concord grape molasses binds the plate. $28.

 

These brined grape leaves are stuffed with cauliflower and rice, and come with labneh and barberries. $16.

 

Heirloom carrots, beets, and cabbage are spiralized to create this riot of colours. The vegetables are then tossed in a blood orange and olive oil dressing. $13.

 

When Moshe first moved to Toronto he wasn’t impressed with the local hummus situation. “In Israel they have places that just serve hummus—they’re open for only four hours, and they’ll serve 1,000 people, but in Canada everything was just factory quality,” says the chef. He makes this hummus in house, and tops it with green harissa, warm chickpeas, crushed tomatoes, sumac and olive oil. $12.

 

This isn’t your grocery-store aisle baba ghanoush. Moshe’s version starts with a fire-charred eggplant that gets a hint of sweet from Egyptian date molasses, some fat from tahini and a bit of crunch from pistachios. Pita chips and a flurry of petals and pomegranates complete the plate. $13.

 

To make sure the cauliflower is ultra-tender and perfectly seasoned, the kitchen brines it for 24 hours before steaming it. The entire head is then hit with a medley of spices, then blasted with heat for 10 minutes so it gets a nice crust. It’s served sitting on a bed of yogurt, spangled in pomegranate pearls, sunflower sprouts and edible petals. $18.

 

Instead of being cooked at a fast, high heat, the branzino is hung over the flames and slow-cooked so it stays extremely moist. A bowl of fresh couscous (made at nearby Parcheggio), and some fire-grilled broccolini and a tomato accompany the fish. $27.

 

Black cod gets a miso-maple-sumac glaze that crystallizes under a blast of heat before the fish is plated on top of a beet-tahini. A crown of grape molasses–tossed carrots encircles the fish, which comes with freshly made couscous. $36.

 

It takes around 12 hours to cook the lamb shoulder. It’s hung over the fire and slow-cooked until it’s super tender. $36.

 

At lunch, Babel makes pita sandwiches, which come served with cucumber labneh and dill-pickled carrots. The pitas include a shaved lamb shoulder, a chicken shawarma club made with beef bacon and pomegranate, falafel, and a daily fish option. (Pictured here is B.C. Snapper). $13-$17.

 

Here’s chef Moshe now.

 

And chef Walsh (left).

 

The drinks

O&B ran into some funny booze-related red tape when applying for their liquor license. Although they can serve beer and wine, they won’t be able to pour spirits until sometime next year. But Babel has taken their sour grapes and turned them into a cocktail program that focuses on wine-based tipples. “Because of where we’re located, we also think a lot of people will be driving here,” says O&B’s Rebecca Spence. “So we have an extensive mocktail selection, too.”

Tangerine Cream is one of their eight inventive mocktails. It’s a blend of tangerine juice and ginger-thyme-vanilla syrup. The white foam is made from shaken coconut cream. $7.50.

 

There are five wine-based cocktails on offer, two spritzes and three sangrias. This is the rosé sangria which blends a Spanish rosé with cranberry juice, honey-ginger syrup and Angostura orange bitters. $10.

 

The Pomegranate Spritz is made with a Casalotta Spumante sparkling wine, chamomile syrup and pomegranate juice. $10.

 

The space

DesignAgency (St. Regis Hotel, Kojin, Pearl Morissette) had the daunting task of transforming a section of the vintage strip mall into an inviting space tinged with Middle Eastern elegance. To keep the space cozy, they have divided the 134-seat restaurant into three sections: a bar, a main dining room, and a private dining room.

This is the main dining room, which looks onto the hearth. The fire’s a bit obscured by the pass, but the occasional eruption of embers adds some low-key pyrotechnics to any meal. The fire, in action.

 

Here’s bar area. The bar top and the arched back bar are made from yellow agate.

 

Here’s the private dining room. The space is can accommodate standing receptions for up to 52 guests.