THE MANTRA OF this market-style eatery north of Steeles on Yonge is “fresh and healthy Middle Eastern cuisine.”
To that tag line they should add “fabulous” as everything sampled here is deserving of a revisit.
Much effort and investment has gone into the spacious room and furnishings (the restaurant’s logo is carved out of the metal backs of all 128 chairs), although the decor is by no means pretentious. Rather, it’s quite a casual, almost-cafeteria-style space, with food stations for ordering and numbered tables for easy delivery.
Capable and genuinely friendly servers give the experience an easy, jovial feel.
Tabbouleh ($4.99), made mere moments before, is fresh, fragrant and full of flavour.
Paramount’s version of hummus ($4.99) sticks to the classic. A pretty sprinkling of paprika seasoning blankets the very creamy chickpea spread, with whole chickpeas, olive oil drizzle and chopped parsley garnish.
Two freshly baked, inflated pita breads (as big as birthday balloons!) hiss and steam en route from wood oven to table.
Made-to-order manakeesh, the Middle Eastern version of pizza, makes a popular choice for big appetites on a budget. The price point ranges from $2 to $4, although any of 14 selections could serve as lunch or a light meal.
The tomato, onion and zaatar topping retains moisture without soaking the crust (hooray!). Alas a dash or two more of salt would have balanced better with the onion.
Crisp baked pita pieces add carbohydrate crunch to fattoush ($4.99), a Levantine salad of romaine lettuce, chopped bell peppers and diced tomatoes — tossed in a dressing of white vinegar, lemon juice and sumac. The pleasure continues into meatier plates from the Halal kitchen.
Red-checkered paper wraps chicken shawarma grilled sandwich ($4.99) — a triumph.
Exceptionally moist and flavourful meat morsels share space with dill pickle slice and romaine in the tightly wrapped pita.
Mixed grill plate ($15.99) brings a pair of lamb kebabs lying pretty beside a duo of immaculately grilled kafta skewers.
The lamb is cooked to well done, but the meat’s balanced seasoning and tenderness appease. Plenty of clove, cinnamon, parsley and onion contribute complexity to the kafta’s ground beefy goodness.
Paramount also serves as a sweet tooth’s heaven, with thousands of baklava and other pastry treats (not an exaggeration) on display in glass cases around the room.
One entire area is dedicated to baklava, baked in various shapes and forms. All six sampled sated.
This is Paramount’s second location to open in York Region with a third on the way.