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Alep or Petit Alep

I've read the reviews and posts on these forums but i am still undecided. Most people talk about Alep being great for a group. We will only be 2 people. Which is better suited for us?

No Alep menu to be found on the net.
I saw the Petit Alep menu and it seemed to consist only of pita sandwiches and standard middle eastern fare. I love this but if i want a sandwich i'd rather go to Abu Elias...

Oh and how much to expect to pay p.p. for Alep?

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  1. Well, it depends what you want. Alep is better for groups because 1) they take reservations as opposed to petit alep who doesn't and is often quite crowded, but for 2, it should be ok and 2)they offer tasting menues whichh is nice to share, but they might do it for to.

    It's really two different place, le petit Alep is the more casual, less expensive place for a quick (er) meal. Some of the appetizers are shared between both menus, Petit Alep offers mostly either sandwiches or plates (with rice and salad). The atmosphere at petit Alep is nice, their wine list one of the best in the city (shared with Alep), it's real restaurant. I just want to emphasises that it has nothing to do with Abu Elias, which is basically a butcher shop with a to go section, a few chairs and bar space.

    So it really depends on what you are looking for, Alep will give you more of a gastronomical experience, petit Alep is very good, but different.

    4 Replies
    1. re: sweettoothMTL

      Hmm ok... still not clear though.

      What's the price range for Alep? I've seen reports that it's 40$ pp. without wine :/

      1. re: SourberryLily

        That's pretty accurate. I actually much prefer the ambiance at Petit Alep, so as long as you don't mind potentially waiting for about 20 minutes.

        Food is great, must get mouhamarra! (I'll admit I like saying it almost as much as I enjoy eating it)

        1. re: waziboy

          just looked that up on wiki, the mouhamarra sounds really good. I am definatly ordering that!

          Does anybody know if they serve kibbe (or kebbe), the raw meat paste, at Petit Alep?

        2. re: SourberryLily

          It's been a while since I went, I mostly go to Petit Alep. I believe their tasting menu may be around 40-50, depending which one you have (I remember a few choices (with more or less meat, fish, etc...). Less if you just take a main and an app. Check out this thread for more reports on Alep, I believe it's still accurate:
          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/556661

      2. I've gone to Petit Alep four times so far. Although I have had to wait before, this weekend was the first time that I had to wait 35 minutes to receive our appetizer. It was especially excessive considering there the entire course consisted of cold foods that only needed to be assembled. So if you're looking to be sure of getting decent service, you should probably go to Alep.

        1. Alep and Petit Alep are the same restaurant (a dinning room and a bistro versions respectively) which serve basically the same menu with differences in the portion. Petit Alep: smaller portion. Alep: bigger portion. And for sure the prices are proportional to the size of the plate. If my memory is good: Petit Alep is around 12-15$ and Alep is around 25$ for a main course. Now it depends which atmosphere you are looking for. Petit Alep is more casual but it is very busy and the waiting can be frustrating. Alep is more "formal" and the service tends to be better. And about the food, there is more then just sandwiches. The meat are juicy and well marinated and they have a pretty good list of mezze (small dishes). If you prefer to go to Petit Alep, I will suggest you to go after 21H to avoid the waiting for the table (they don't take reservation).

          1. guys, I went to Alep recently- wasn't happy about my experience at all. I had lamb dish cooked in porto, wine and spices- it wasn't good. The flavor of cloves was soooo strong that it made me think they are trying to mask bad taste of meat. And it certainly looked like their rice was a pre-cooked version! I mean, c'mon, you charge 26$ for your dish, and you give me pre-cooked rice with meat, which has only one -note-cloves flavor? We had people from Lebanon and from Israel at my table - none of them ate the rice, it was left on the plates. Comments about meat were -it's OK. No one was wowed by their meat. Lentil soup I tried from the plate of my friend was tasty. We decided not to take desserts. Do not know what to say... I hope it was a glitch (beginning of the week, half empty resto, inexperienced chef- whatever), and in general food is better there, but I ma not going to Alep again. For 26$ for dish I know much better places with no pre-cooked rice.

            10 Replies
            1. re: indeed

              Do you really expect restaurants to cook your rice à la minute? With the exception of Italian risotto and Spanish rice dishes, i've never heard of places cooking rice to order. Rice takes around 25 minutes to cook and starting a new batch of rice for every order in a restaurant would most likely cause mayhem in the kitchen.

              1. re: SnackHappy

                Khyber Pass manages to produce decent rice with their meals, no? There is pre-cooked normal rice (which I can understand), and like "Uncle Ben's" pre-cooked rice... You know what I mean. We had a feeling that their rice was more of "uncle Ben's" kind. Some ppl at my table had white rice mixed with brown- no help, no taste.

                -----
                Khyber Pass
                1694 Boul Saint-Martin W, Laval, QC H7S1M9, CA

                1. re: indeed

                  Well, Khyber Pass is an Afghani restaurant so their rice is bound to be different. It's more like Persian rice. It's made with basmati and is certainly not cooked to order.

                  I don't want to defend that rice at Alep, although I've never not liked it, but Syrian/Lebanese rice is its own thing and usually just tastes like rice. To me that's a good thing. Are you sure it was brown rice that was mixed in and not fried noodles? I've never seen brown rice in a Levantine restaurant.

                  -----
                  Khyber Pass
                  1694 Boul Saint-Martin W, Laval, QC H7S1M9, CA

                  1. re: SnackHappy

                    It looked like brown rice (describing the color, not the actual kind) was mixed with white one. Didn't look like noodles. I have Iranian colleagues, we share lunches sometimes, we go to Iranian restos together. Persian rice tastes like rice- (if not flavored with saffron). I didn't like rice in Alep, none of people at my table did. Well, see yourself what kind of flavor you'll find in it, when you go to Alep next time. I was really disappointed.

                  2. re: indeed

                    Khyber pass has women coming in the morning and they cook all the food needed for the day, So most of the food you eat there is reheated.

                    Question was not that the rice wasn't prepared on order but it was a bad batch if I understand correctly. Usually that happens if it's not the regular chef preparing it. One thing for sure there was no quality check from the manager or owners.

                    How did they address the situation to make you evening a success?

                    1. re: maj54us

                      Indeed, the term I used (pre-cooked) rice leaves space for misunderstanding... Had to be more specific from the beginning. Please, note, it was that looking like "Uncle Ben's" kind of rice- no taste, no flavor. Like pre-cooked, and packed for sale rice. I have nothing against reheated rice or dishes in "Khyber Pass" or "Tehran", for example.

                      We had several occasions to celebrate that evening. 12 people... so, we talked and laughed a lot, and evening was good because of that.
                      Alep was chosen by one of the birthday people, so I said nothing - didn't want the birthday person to feel responsible or upset. Then later I noticed that my colleagues left their rice untouched. As we discussed later, they all said that rice was comparable to one you can get at Royal Victoria cafeteria. People, who know, will understand.
                      To me this is easy- I came, I tried, I'll never go there again. Montreal has plenty of nice places to eat.

                      1. re: indeed

                        I'm sorry to hear that you'll never go back because of the rice. You are missing on some good middle-eastern dishes.

                        Can you tell me about good middle eastern place that you enjoy?

                        Also for rice, you may want to try pakistani or indian biryanni rice with chicken or lamb at place like sana, halal786, curry and naan. All biryanni dishes but each of them have their own distinct taste. I lke all of them but my favorite as of lately is the curry and naan restaurant on jean-talon.

                        1. re: maj54us

                          Middle-Eastern? I had eaten in some in France- very authentic food! + My friends cook (Iranian, Lebanese, Israeli, Tunisian, Turkish friends). So, I kinda know what is rice and flavors there.
                          I like "Tehran", "Avesta" (different level, inconsistent, but when it is good, it is GOOD). Kaza-Maza is not bad... "Menthe et Couscous" - well, I'd been there only once, right the first week when they opened. I tried their tajine, it wasn't right- meat (tasty though) was definitely cooked separately and then added to the concoction of dried apricots, veggies and so on. Flavors were not blended. It wasn't right. So, I decided to go there again a bit later, when they settle down.

                          Alep:
                          It's not only about rice- those cloves overpowering lamb so strongly made me suspicious too. Mistake of the chef? Well... isn't he trying what he is cooking? It was SO strong!
                          My colleagues from Middle-East said that it is a common trick to hide bad meat. Here you go...

                          I better go to Avesta, Khyber Pass or to my favourite Indian restos.
                          I was just really surprised to get what I got in Alep, after reading all those praising reviews on the board, that's it. Not a big deal, it didn't kill my evening. Fortunately, Montreal is full of nice restaurants, cheap and expensive.

                          -----
                          Khyber Pass Restaurant
                          506 Av Duluth E, Montreal, QC H2L1A7, CA

                          1. re: indeed

                            By middle eastern I mean Lebanese, Syrian, Egyptian food. What's your best lebanese place, egyptian?

                            I feel your frustration with Alep with the rice then the meat being covered with flavors?!?! What was good?. I mean I hope you guys enjoyed something there. hummus, salads?

                            1. re: indeed

                              I did not enjoy the food at Alep last winter either. I had been to Petit Alep 15 years ago and remembered liking it so I decided to try Alep for my birthday. I was a tad disappointed. We went for their tasting menu and the waitress assured us it would be tailored for 2 and we would have enough food. Sadly, the portions were small and I did not enjoy the spicing of the lamb either. Very overpowering. I remember we liked the shrimp and a piece of fish, they served us but at the end of the meal, we were hungry! We felt we had paid for a fancy meal and gotten morsels of food in return. As for the strong spices, I don't know if this is typical of Syrian food or a particularity of this restaurant. If there was ever an opportunity to go with a group of friends and try more menu items I would return but I doubt I will hurry back with my husband since there are many other places we want to try.