Located on Wynford Drive, the Aga Khan museum (@) is a stunning work of art. The museum, which showcases Muslim art and culture, is also home to the restaurant Diwan which features food inspired by the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia.
To get to the restaurant, you enter through the main entrance of the museum and turn to your right where you’ll be greeted by one of the hosts or hostesses. While dining at the restaurant doesn’t require an admission fee, parking at the museum costs a flat $10 fee so I recommend making a day out of it and spend some time exploring their collections or admiring the impeccably landscaped museum surroundings.
It’s no surprise that Diwan is equally impressive. It’s a very elegant space featuring 19th century hand-carved and painted wood panels, high ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows which allows the restaurant to be filled with natural light.
Late last year, Chef Mark McEwan (@) and his group (@) took over the food and beverage services at the museum, which includes Diwan. Chef McEwan, who owns North 44, Bymark, ONE and Fabbrica, has been busy in recent years with the opening of the ‘McEwan’ gourmet grocery stores and now, taking over the reigns at the Aga Khan museum.
Chef McEwan and Chef de Cuisine John Kovac have created an extensive menu which is sure to make your mouth water with appetizers like goat kafta and grilled octopus, sandwiches including a BBQ-glazed beef tongue sandwich and entrees like chermoula-marinated prawns. They also offer lassi’s (a yogurt-based drink similar to a smoothie), fresh juices and a great selection of specialty coffee and tea to finish your meal off with.
Here’s a look at some of their offerings:
Mango Lassi ($6.50)
Sweet Onion Bhaji – with tamarind chutney ($9)
Roasted Beet Salad – orange, fennel, labneh, citrus vinaigrette, honey-roasted pistachios and lavash ($14)
Grilled Beef Shish Kebabs – with brown zataar butter, chickpea puree, stick saffron onions and roasted heirloom beets ($23)
Crisp Manakeesh – braised beef short rib with pickled shallots, akkawi cheese, charred eggplant spread and pomegranate molasses ($20)
Carrot Halva Upside Down Cake – all spice, brown sugar reduction, cream cheese icing ($10)
Walnut and Pistachio Filo Rolls – honey lavender syrup, fig gelato ($10)
Traditional Turkish Coffee – twice-cooked Turkish coffee, pre-sugared with a pinch of cardamom ($5.50)
The highlights of the meal included the roasted beet salad, grilled beef shish kebabs and crisp manakeesh. I loved the combination of all the flavours and textures of the beet salad – the earthy beets, citrus from the orange and vinaigrette, the tart labneh and the crunch and sweetness from the honey-roasted pistachios. I wanted something lighter as we had also ordered the heavier bhaji (deep-fried onion fritters) and this certainly did the trick.
The grilled beef shish kebabs come with three kebabs per order. They were seasoned well and I loved that it came with pita to get every last bit of chickpea puree (aka hummus).
My personal favourite was the crisp manakeesh which was essentially a flatbread topped with tender shredded short rib topped with akkwai cheese. It tasted as delicious as it looked – the addition of the pickled shallots not only gave the dish pops of colour but pops of flavour as well.
Diwan is currently open for lunch only from Tuesday to Sunday from 11:30am to 2:30pm. However, in 2016, they are offering six specially-themed pre-show dinners. Each dinner is $75 per person (including gratuities; taxes extra). The first one is taking place on Saturday, March 12th at 6pm. Details can be found here.
*This was a complimentary meal. The opinions in the post, as always, are my own.*