Tabule - loved it
- TorontoJo Mar 10, 2007 08:19 AM
I don't see this little gem discussed much on the board, so I thought I'd post about my dinner there last week. Tabule is a Lebanese/Middle Eastern restaurant in the old Stork on the Roof space (Yonge, 3 blocks south of Davisville). Four of us met for an early dinner (6:30 is the latest reservation they will take on a weekend) and we were so drawn by all the appetizers that we ended making a dinner of 8 appetizers and one main course, shared among us. For apps we ordered: hummous, babaganoush, fried cauliflower, fried eggplant, garlic tomatoes, kubbe (aka kibbe or kibbeh), fatoush salad (chunks of cucumbers, tomatoes, bell peppers and pita chips tossed in oil, vinegar and herbs), and another basic salad. The main was a whole, fried european sea bass, served with deliciously char-grilled onions and peppers and the tastiest rice pilaf I've had in a loooong time.
Here is a cuisine where I could happily eat vegetarian all the time. The highlights for me were 1) the addictive cauliflower, which was very lightly fried (no batter) and drizzled with tahini, 2) the eggplant, which was tender and savoury with no hint of bitterness and the 3) garlic tomatoes, which seemed to be stewed in a tomato sauce. The fish was delicious as well -- a whole fish that had been deep fried so that it was crisp on the outside and wonderfully moist and tender on the inside -- and would have been a huge serving for one person. Everything was full of flavour and very fresh. The four of us stuffed ourselves for $135 (before tip), which also included two pomegranate martinis, two desserts and 3 coffees.
Atmosphere is simple and casual, service is warm and friendly. The place was packed all evening (a Saturday), so it's clear that others feel the same as we did. This is not a "destination" restaurant for a first date, but is a solid choice for a casual dinner any night of the week.
it's great isn't it? Perfect place to pop in for a casual bite- The tabule salad, armenian sausages, lentil and brown rice dish and the shrimp are other must-trys.
I definitely prefer Tabule. But while both are Middle Eastern, I think that Jerusalem is more Israeli in style (?). Note that the fried eggplant isn't battered and fried like you might expect -- its large slices of tender eggplant that tastes like it may have been sauteed. Simple, but delicious. Gotta have the cauliflower, though!
okay, just returned from Tabule, it's a lovely little gem of a neighborhood place, with warm staff. Here's my eval of the food, vs Jerusalem:
Babaganosh -- really good, nice roasted flavour and a tich of bite, almost as good as J's
Hummus -- much more chickpea, lighter on the tahini than J, a bit bland
Labeneh -- rich, sour, lovely -- a bit better than J
Fried Eggplant -- 5 thick slices, very saturated with bland oil as a result, prefer the thinner, lemonyer, garlicier, flavour of J, good potential though, they gotta fix the oversaturated oil thing
Fried Tomatoes -- pure tomato flavour, plum tomatos in a thick sauce, significantly less garlic than J -- fresh but not as good as J
Fried Cauliflower -- floret tips only, fried and drizzled with tahini, a nice roasted nutty flavour, the tahini worked really well with on this dish. Jerusalem's cauliflower is done in large florets.
Falafels -- light, fluffy, very fresh, better than Jerusalem's. Served with tahini -- bland, I really missed the bite of the tahini at J
Lebanese Sausage -- five finger sized sausages highly paprika'd with a bit of chili bite at the end, very nice flavour
Anash Safta -- custard with angel hair filo and rose water syrup was served warm. My husband liked it, I didn't care for the flavour at all.
Overall, Jerusalem is my preferred flavour palette by a long shot -- all the flavours there are more intense (more garlic, more lemon, more bite). Tabule has a list of fruit/vodka Martinis and more style so it's definately more hit, and entertainment friendly. For the food though, it's just not as good for me.
okay agree with you on the hummus and fried tomatoes. Also the more garlic on everything ..however this is what I prefer...you don't reek of garlic when you leave like J.
However may I add the following:
Rice --way way better than J
Fried Eggplant - better than J ...maybe you came on an off night it is rarely saturated in oil and use fresher oil
Lamb chops - no comparison way better ,first cut, aged tender ,better quality meat
Beef- better quality I think it is Filet Mignon
Tabule- way better than J fresher, fresh mint , lemon etc
Fatush, Hallum salad - both great don't have at J
Mujaddarra -great don't have at J
Kubbeh- better than J
Cauliflower, falafel - better than J
Shrimps - bigger and deveined -better than J
Desserts- better than J try lemon orange sorbet or Pom sorbet, rice pudding and Knafa
Wine list, drink list --way better than J
Overall , Tabule is my preferred flavour palette by a long shot---the service and ambience is A LOT better as well!!
I've posted about Tabule a few times on this board - I've eaten there 20 or so times and it's consistently good and the service is warm and friendly. The restaurant was opened by a former waitress from Jerusalem and her husband so not surpisingly, there are some similarities in the dishs. Overall, I way prefer the food and atmosphere at Tabule though I agree with orangewasabi that the hummus and fried garlic tomatoes are better at Jerusalem. TorontoJo, I'm with you - appetizers are the way to go, though you need at least one main dish to get the killer rice/noodle combo (sooo good). Also, try the halmoui salad next time - it has a nice tang to it. Lentil soup is good as well. I've never tried the whole fish or the armenian sausage so I'll add those to my list for next time.
FYI, they take reservations during the week but not on week-ends. They also deliver.