93 Harbord - review
I had dinner at 93 Harbord last night, and it has just become one of my favourite new restaurants. The food is an innovative mix of Middle Eastern ingredients and European techniques and dishes. The restaurant itself is very handsome, with beautiful exposed brick walls, a mix of different size tables and booths, has a bit of a lofty feeling, and does not feel pretentious.
For appetizer, we had a beet bulgar salad with a yogurt tahini dressing, and spring roll filled with ground organic chicken and pine nuts, in a lemony dressing. The salad was excellent, very crisp flavours, the sauce complementing the nutty bulgar very well. The rolls very very good, but the sauce did overpower the roll itself.
For dinner, I had seared seafood on bulgar risotto with saffron and my companion had a lamb shank with foruki (sp.?). Both dishes were immensely satisfying. The risotto was sitting in a lemon coulis, and it was the most perfect pairing of two distinct flavours. The seafood was a generous portion of scallops, shrimps and mussels, and all were properly cooked. The lamb shank was incredibly tender and juicy, just fell off the bone. It came with a really delicious grain called (I think) farouki, which was bigger than bulgur and more nutty, and some wilted spinach, all surrounded by a very unique yogurt (yogourt-y but not that sour and with a hint of sesame flavour). Both really nice.
We ended with an Arabic dessert, the name of which escapes me, but it was a very dense rice flour pudding flavoured with rosewater. Quite subtle flavour, and deceptively filling for its size. Went very well with strong coffee.
The only weakness is the wine list - fairly minimal and very basic offerings. Basically one of each - Pinot Gris, Gewurtz, Riesling, Shiraz, etc. On the other hand, the wines range by bottle from 25 to 39, and all are available by glass. I imagine the owners will work on expending the wine list. Our server was a bit absent minded, but very pleasant (the other servers seemed quite attentive, so she may have had an off night).
The menu is very interesting, and I am looking forward to trying some of their other dishes. I don't think there is another non-traditional Arabic restaurant in town.