By Michael Minorgan for Curtains Up
If you love the food of the Middle East, run don’t walk to its newest culinary pied piper, Sumac in Griffintown, just west of the Atwater Market.
Sumac is not a fancy sit down culinary experience, it’s a very casual, hip place where conviviality and excellent fresh and healthy food reign supreme.
We visited one Thursday night around 7:30pm. The place was jammed packed with a long line of mostly young eager diners waiting for a seat at the variety of table settings in the room that include quirky sit up bar areas and a huge communal table in the center of the room.
When you enter you are given a number on a plastic marker which both reserves your table and denotes your food order. Ordering is done, by you, at the main cash counter from a large menu on the wall.
The menu is not large, but boy is it interesting, Middle Eastern comfort food at its best. The combinations available are almost endless..
It features among other dishes, Hummus, Baba Ghanouj, Muhammara (aleppo peppers, walnuts and pomegranite molasses). Their pitas, served at a table next to us, looked amazing, stuffed with a seemingly glorious overflow of flavors and colors and given a choice of chicken, beef sabich (vegetarian), each pita also includes hummus, chopped salad, a duo of cabbages, the ever present pickled turnip (not a personal favorite of mine I must interject!) all sinfully drizzled with that wonderful creamy rich sesame paste, tahini.
They also have a great mix of side salads, two of which are included with their main plates featuring choices of Falafel, Chicken Shawarma, Beef Kefta and Sabich.
Faced with all these intriguing choices pining down our choices was not any easy task.
We settled on two of their main plates: Chicken Shawrma ($16) and the Beef Kefta ($16)
Both plates arrived over flowing with food. The Chicken Shwarma included nicely spiced and charred tender shards of chicken, a large swath of velvety smooth hummus, a quartet of fluffy charred fresh pita wedges and two salads of my choice, a robust and delicious fried eggplant salad infused with that spicy Middle East paste, harissa, preserved lemon and fresh coriander (a big Yum!) and another salad of Moroccan carrots, currants and parsley all delicately seasoned with the enticing and earthy flavor of cumin.
The Beef Kefta included two boldly flavored charred patties of beef accompanied with the same hummus and pita wedges and in this case the same fried eggplant salad and an additional salad of quinoa enhanced with chopped kale, almonds, barberries (a slightly sour red berry found in the Middle East and used extensively in Iranian cuisine among others), golden raisins and fresh coriander.
We accompanied our meal with a pint of Carlsberg draft beer ($8) and a Shandy Cocktail ($8).
Service at Sumac is both friendly and efficient with the owner fully involved at all times.
If you’re looking for a casual restaurant serving superb healthy Middle Eastern food at reasonable prices and you don’t mind standing in line for a little while (the turnover is pretty fast) then Sumac is one great choice.
I will return…many times!
Our bill came to $54 including drinks, food and taxes
3618 Notre Dame St West
Tel: 514 935-1444
Tues – Fri: 11h30 – 22h-00
Saturday :15h00 – 22h00
Some images courtesy of www.roastedmontreal.com