So a Roman Catholic Priest, a Rabbi and an Imam walk into a bar. Have you heard this one before? If it ends with the three of them all having a perfectly familiar culinary experience, then they’ve most likely sauntered into Mideastro, Toronto’s gastronomic United Nations.
‘Fusion’ may have become an overused culinary term in years past, but as Leon Goldstein, Mideastro’s owner will tell you, “no one in North America is doing this kind of fusion cuisine.”
Billed as a pan-Mediterranean experience, the budding restaurant chain —with locations in Thornhill and the one-year-old Yorkville location— is a surprisingly harmonious blend of Italian classics and North African / Middle-Eastern flavours. In fact, on the occasion of the mid-town location’s first anniversary, one bite noshes of grilled calamari as well as truffle-scented beef carpaccio were passed among the crowd of food and media types, alongside grouper ceviche wrapped in Jerusalem artichoke, crab cake falafel with house- made pita and lamb shawarma sliders. Served mainly in the hip boîte’s main bar and lounge area, each dish played nicely on the palate, particularly when paired with the Italian whites, reds and prosecco on offer.
According to Goldstein, the restaurant draws inspiration from the entire Mediterranean region, fusing spices and culinary cues from 11 different countries such as the aforementioned Italy, as well as Syria, Israel and Tunisia, just to name a few.
“We want to move away from what people normally think, when they hear middle- eastern cuisine,” says Goldstein, “which is typically fast-food. We’re trying to showcase the kind of cuisine you find today among top chefs in Israel and Dubai.” Places where, as Goldstein says, diners are gaining a new-found taste for the high-end, creative flavours of multi-cultural fusion.
What’s more, the crew at Mideastro feels as though this kind of gustatory globalization isn’t something that ought to be contained to the happening neighbourhoods of Hogtown. According to Goldstein, diners in other urban centers across the country could also one day find themselves ordering risottos that, thanks to a little Syrian or Moroccan flare, don’t quite taste the way Mama used to make it. “For now we’re committed to turning this location into a real staple in the community,” says Goldstein. “We’re not rushing any plans to start a restaurant chain,” he adds, while also adding that locations in cities like Vancouver and Montreal are at least part of the conversation in terms of the group’s future plans.
But for now, diners in this city, along with meandering theologians of all stripes can break bread (pita) in the inviting lounge booths, or large communal tables of this hip Yorkville haunt.
27 Yorkville Avenue
Written by J.D. Ney
After years of editorial positions with two of Canada’s leading food and hospitality magazines, J.D. decided to get out of the professional journalism game, but found that he couldn’t leave the writing–to say nothing of the food and drink business–behind for good. Combining a passion for fine food and better beverages, with a keen eye for the broader story and culinary trends across the city, J.D.’s work can be read here at Spotlight, and you can follow him on Twitter.