Anticipation is a delicious word. It's that current of excitement that courses through the air, making each intake of breath a little richer and a little more palatable. It's what one would imagine Diana Sideris and Rony Goraichy, the wife-and-husband duo, felt as they renovated and reopened their restaurant, Tabülê, in early October, much to the delight of their loyal midtown patrons.
The couple, who met while working at another restaurant, opened Tabülê three years ago
and saw their beloved establishment grow in popularity, to the point that it was common to see lines of hungry customers spill out the door. The animated Yonge and Eglinton/Davisville area was chosen by the owners specifically for its ability to conjure a steady neighbourhood clientele that appreciates quality food.
The renovation has allowed Tabülê to double its seating capacity, making room for their overflow of patient customers, as well as some substantial furnishings like a dark wood bar, handcrafted filigree lanterns, and high-backed gold banquettes. All are accented by brightly jeweled throw pillows that stand out against the warm and peaceful orange, gold and green walls. The ambiance in the restaurant is calm, but one senses that there is undercurrent of unwavering energy, even during a midweek visit to the restaurant.
Diana, who is the embodiment of geniality and multitasking, offered some insight into the restaurant's unique mood. By combining great service, authentic Middle Eastern touches and amazing food, Tabülê has managed to create an upscale and vibrant Middle Eastern atmosphere.
Adding to this feeling is the expectant air surrounding each of the restaurant's diners as they wait eagerly to divulge the secret satisfactions of their meals. We begin by indulging in a series of appetizers: Humus ($5.50),Tabülê ($5.95), Hallüm Salad ($8.95) and Fried Eggplant ($6.50). The standouts at the table were the hallüm and eggplant. The seared hallüm, a cheese that has recently become increasingly popular, carried a dense saltiness that matched well when paired with the sweetness of the arugula salad. The fried eggplant was a revelation. The sensual softness of the eggplant was almost obscene and it carried a simple depth from the light touch of a lemon and garlic dressing. It immediately brought to mind how unlike another popular eggplant dish I've often had in Toronto restos-baked miso eggplant, whose bland underbelly is often suffocated by a layer of a cloyingly sweet miso mixture.
We continued with a shared platter of kebabs-chicken ($13.95), beef, and lamb ($16.95). For an extra $2.50, we substituted house rice with brown rice and Müjaddara (brown rice and lentils) and both were studded with chunks of roasted vegetables. We sat in anticipation for the red meats in particular, because everyone knows how easy they are to overcook. The beef and lamb were done to a perfect medium-rare, which, when paired with glasses of the Wyndham Estates Shiraz ($36), allowed us to firmly settle into the headiness of the meal.
Our senses were tempered further with desserts and coffee that drew the night to a sweet close: the house specialty, Knaffe Ashta ($5.95), which is a warm angelhair phyllo, wrapped around orange blossom-infused custard, intrigued the palate, drawing multiple bites from the curious. The intricate layers of the bite-sized Baklava ($5.25) was a delicious experience that rivaled any bakery on the Danforth. We paid the bill and said goodnight to our server, who was still thrumming with helpful energy; our dinner was finished, but the unspoken promise for future visits infused into our breath as we entered the cool night air.
Now that Tabülê has reopened after the renovations, Diana and Rony can articulate the elegant allure of casual/upscale Middle Eastern cuisine in Toronto. The customers, who have been eagerly awaiting the reopening, can now put their anticipation to rest. Not only can they look forward to long, delicious nights in the updated space, but they can also anticipate playing host to their private events like weddings and showers in the restaurant. The owners also hope to incorporate live entertainment like belly-dancing and build toward the ultimate dream, expansion into different locations. Tabule's revival is complete, and is here to stay.