Monday, May 07, 2018

Eating up the Hill: Mixed Grill at Paramount Fine Foods

For those who keep Halal, the opening of a franchise of the popular Toronto-based chain Paramount Fine Foods at the Rideau Centre is a welcome sight. It's a needed addition to the downtown Ottawa Halal options, which are basically limited to Afghani Kabab Express, Nando's, and 100 different shawarma places.

I have visited locations in Scarborough several times, and recently had a weekend lunch at the new Rideau Centre location. It featured an open kitchen, tall ceilings, and an open vibe, and wasn't overly busy on this Sunday afternoon. I wasn't seated too near the door, but the draft whenever it opened onto Rideau Street would be very annoying in the winter.

Besides traditional Middle Eastern fare, they seem very big on fries. Fries as a side. Fries as a main, topped with chicken shawarma and garlic sauce, or shawarma poutine. The kids really seem to like them. I'm not a kid. No fries for me, fusion or otherwise.

I opted for the mixed grill, which is centred around a skewer of striploin beef, one of shish tawouk (chicken breast)  and one of kafta (seasoned ground beef). I went with the basmati rice over the fries, being an adult. It also came with humus and garlic, grilled tomatoes and onion, a small slice of grilled pizza (if there's a fancier name for it, I don't know it) and a large Saj bread.

My first thought was I'll never finish all this. You'll be relieved though, and possibly not surprised, to learn that I managed to do so anyway.

I'll start with the meat. The steak was of high quality and nicely seasoned, and I have come to really enjoy kafta. The chicken, though, was somewhat bland and disappointing. Some of the meat I ate on its own, but most I had with a piece of the Saj bread (which was good but a little too much flour garnish) and some humus or garlic sauce and some vegetable and rice. Like a one-bite sandwich.

I would have liked more humus and garlic sauce, given the amount of meat I had to work with. The rice needed a little something more, and made me miss biryani. The roasted onion was good, but there was no elegant way I could fine to remove the peel to get at it.

It was a good and filling meal, but at $32 with a diet coke and a tip, too expensive for what it is. Wouldn't have minded a little more heat either -- I can handle my spice. I'll be back, but may stick to a wrap.

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