I’ve previously eaten at Tabülè’s (@TabuleToronto) Yonge St location before and didn’t find it particularly memorable. What drew Mike and I into the Riverdale/Leslieville location was the fact that it seemed to be packed every single night. After a meal here, we could definitely understand why.
Located on Queen (at Degrassi), this location has a very warm and inviting atmosphere. I loved the gorgeous turquoise bar and patterned walls which fit in nicely with its middle eastern theme.
Tabülè has an extensive menu of middle eastern dishes, most of which are ideal for sharing. The menu is divided into hot and cold mezzes (small dishes), vegetarian, grilled items and seafood. There are plenty of options, so there’s something for everyone.
They have some pretty interesting cocktails too although we didn’t indulge in any during this visit. Oh, and there are no corkage fees on Mondays and Tuesdays, so drop by early in the week to take advantage of it.
Since it was freezing out, Mike’s mom warmed up with an order of Homemade Lentil Soup – pureed red lentils with no cream or butter ($4.95). I didn’t try any but she really enjoyed it. She makes a darn good lentil soup herself, so if she says Tabülè’s version is delicious, I believe her!
You can’t come to a middle eastern restaurant without ordering some dips! Since we wanted to try a few of them, we ordered the Sampler Platter ($14) where you can choose 3 types of cold mezzes.
We went with the Babaganuj – pureed bbq eggplant mixed with Lebanese tahini, garlic and fresh lemon juice, Tabule – hand chopped parsley salad with whole wheat bulgur, tomatoes, onions and a hint of mint tossed in a light lemon & olive oil dressing and Labni – homemade Lebanese yogurt cheese mixed with garlic & topped off with za’atar.
Each and every component was delicious. The tabule was fresh and lightly dressed. Even Mike, who doesn’t normally like tabule, enjoyed this one. I’ve never tried labni before so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. The creamy dip had a nice tang to it and was something I’d definitely order again. My personal favourite was the babaganuj which had a wonderful smokiness to it.
If you check-in using Foursquare, you can get a complimentary sample size of Hummus – chickpea puree, Lebanese tahini sauce, fresh lemon juice & a touch of garlic. Another excellent dip!
While I loved the dips, I didn’t find the pitas to be anything to write home about – just your standard pitas.
Another appetizer we shared was the Akaawi Cheese – seared with nigella seeds topped with tomato concasse and finished with za’atar and extra virgin olive oil drizzle ($11.95). It had a nice chewy texture and while it was on the salty side (it’s a brined cheese), we still really enjoyed it.
Up next was an order of Falafel – vegetarian patties consisting of crushed chickpeas, split fava, parsley, garlic, onions and spices served with tahini ($5.95) which came with six plump deep fried balls. Often times they can be awfully dry but this certainly wasn’t the case here. These were some of the best I’ve ever had – they were wonderfully light, fluffy and moist. They were also perfectly fried with a super crispy exterior without being greasy. A must –order!
From the mezze section of the menu, we also ordered the Ma’anek – Lebanese spicy sausage made with ground beef, middle eastern spices and pine nuts ($6.95). The sausages were moist and had a nice kick to them but I found the clove flavour in them to be quite dominant. I’m a little biased since I’m not a huge fan of clove but if you don’t mind the flavour, you’d likely enjoy them.
One of the mains we ordered was the Garlic Shrimp Entrée – sautéed shrimp in a tomato garlic sauce ($19.95) which is also available as an appetizer. The shrimp were perfectly cooked and the delicious tomato garlic sauce was very balanced. It came with a generous amount of sauce which coated every bit of rice that sat underneath it.
The other main we shared was the Grilled Lamb – two skewers of fresh Ontario lamb dry aged in house ($18.95). The tender pieces of lamb were cooked to a nice medium rare as we had requested. They weren’t at all dry and were seasoned incredibly well.
All the mains are served with chefs vegetables and rice topped with onions. I don’t know what it is about the rice here but it’s so damn good! Despite being so full, we licked every grain of rice off of the plate.
Overall, we had a fantastic dinner at Tabülè. We usually get our middle eastern fix in the burbs so this is a wonderful addition to the neighborhood. There’s a reason why this location is packed every night but don’t take my word for it – check it out for yourself!
At a glance:
• Previously visited their original location (Yonge/Davisville) and didn’t find it particularly memorable but loved the Queen East (Riverdale/Leslieville) location
• This location is packed every night
• Takes reservations
• Serving up delicious middle eastern dishes which are perfect for sharing
• Must-orders: any of their dips and the falafel
• No corkage fees on Mondays/Tuesdays
• Belly dancing on Saturdays
Ratings (out of 5):
• Food: 4 stars
• Service: 4 stars
• Atmosphere: 4 stars