Shook, a fresh new Israeli-inspired vegetarian concept from restaurateur and Iconink CEO Hanif Harji (Byblos, Patria, Figo, Mira) will open in Toronto at 77 Portland St. this June. The new 78-seat dine-in, takeout, and retail spot is built around the concept of the traditional Israeli “shuk,” open-air markets that sell fresh ingredients and traditional eats.
“We interpret modern Israeli cuisine as a melting pot of both cultural and regional culinary traditions,” explains Harji. “We see no boundaries or borders, our intentions are simple: explore ancient spices, and understand regional food and cooking techniques while staying true to our mission [to] translate food to emotion and memory.”
With a focus on sustainability, the menu is built around high quality locally-sourced ingredients.
This flavourful veggie-based cuisine will be cooked over an open flame, rather than with a typical gas range.
“We poured our hearts and souls into developing a rich menu,” says Shook executive chef Ben Heaton (The Grove, La Société, Figo, Estia). “We’re working with amazing, locally grown ingredients and paying careful attention to every element in every dish. Cooking on an open flame is a unique opportunity to really bring out amazing flavours in a way most people don’t expect.”
At the heart of the menu is the pita, which is baked in a wood oven while you wait to provide a fresh base for the rotating sandwiches. There are also plenty of seasonal soups, such as burnt eggplant and maftoul, fresh salads, such as green cabbage, dill, and pistachio, and plates such as manouri stuffed squash blossom with matzo crust and mushroom tahdig.
The brunch menu features dishes such as buttermilk qatayef pancakes with rose cream and pistachio, chocolate babka French toast with spiced orange marmalade, as well as two variations of the classic Israeli dish shakshouka.
To accompany the food is a menu of botanical cocktails, mocktails and biodynamic wines. Sit back with a drink and enjoy the decor by Toronto-based interior design firm Model Ctzn that features a custom-made woven chandelier and an impressive art installation. Or enjoy your libations on the 48-seat patio when the glorious Toronto summer finally arrives.
A daily menu of coffee, smoothies, and baked goods, as well as salads and sandwiches are available to-go, all packaged in environmentally responsible containers. In the retail shop you’ll find everything from house-made pickles to custom clothing to handmade pottery.
Shook will be serving lunch, dinner and weekend brunch as of June 1st.
Shookkitchen.com, 77 Portland St.