Omnivore: Survival of the hungriest

Survival of the hungriest

Dig in to a meat platter or fill up on vegetable matter at Omnivore
Photo: Marianne McEwen

Eat local meats and a whole lot more at new Lebanese restaurant Omnivore

The space on the northeast corner of St-Laurent and Marie-Anne has held many occupants. Here’s hoping the current inhabitant will stick around for a while, if only because the interior – accented in honeyed wood, sunlight and herb-and-vegetable-planted window boxes – has taken on its most pleasing aesthetic yet. But there are plenty of other reasons to root for the longevity of Omnivore, a new Lebanese eatery open since June.

Reasons 1 to 3: You can dine with herbivores and carnivores alike, while your own inner omnivore happily splits the difference with the restaurant’s like-named platters. We asked the very kind staff to choose the mezza selection for our herbivore platter. Classics like creamy hummus and lightly smoky baba ghanoush were scoffed down with hunks of soft pita. Mounds of moussaka (stewed eggplant) and okra (simmered to perfection with chickpeas and tomatoes) added oomph to the plate while briny-sweet stuffed vine leaves offered something to sink one’s teeth into. Our favourite mezzo may have been the fava beans and a special of sautéed Swiss chard with caramelized onions – perfection!

For our carnivore platter, we selected three kaftas: chicken, fish and spicy beef. While I might describe the beef as more aromatic than spicy, a dollop of garlic or hot sauce could zippy things up. All kaftas offered smoky grace notes while remaining incredibly moist. The fish was the most outstanding – a mix of salmon and tilapia punctuated with chopped mint, cilantro and fresh ginger that really made it sing. The platter came with a lentil-rice mix dotted with chewy bits of onion. Heating the rice could have brought the flavours to the fore. No shortage of flavour in the house-pickled veg, however. The tangy Lebanese cukes, cabbage and turnip added brilliant colour and taste to the plate.

That might actually count as Reasons 1 to 12… or even more. Well, following are Reasons 13 through too-many-to-count. A fattouch salad offered glorious crunch and puckery bite with radish, tomato, onion, romaine lettuce and delectable shards of fried pita bread, dressed in oil and lemon juice and flecked with ruby sumac. The tabbouleh, refreshingly, contained no grain, just mounds of fresh parsley, diced tomato and onion, with enough lemony dressing to tame any bitterness.

The selection of kaftas (veg paté included), plus chicken and beef taouk, can be ordered wrapped in a grilled pita with assorted toppings. The "Macreuse" – marinated grilled beef with hummus, onion and sumac – was supremely satisfying. Just be sure to save room for the semolina coconut cake and a glass of fresh mint tea.

Using only antibiotic-free and hormone-free local meats, plus über-fresh vegetables, an omnivore’s dilemma has never been tastier.

Omnivore
4351 St-Laurent Blvd.; (514) 303-5757
Dinner for two, before tax, tip and beverage: $20-$45

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