Thursday, June 25, 2015

Jamjar Folk Lebanese Food

Click to add a blog post for Jamjar on Zomato It's really hard not to compare Jamjar to Nuba -- they even have a Makali appetizer which is similar to Nuba's Najib's Special except way sharper with lemon.

Speaking of which, it felt like most dishes had lemon. Sometimes a lot of lemon. Like Makanik (skinny lamb sausages) that were hot tubbing in some juice. If you got too much juice on your sausage, they tasted like lemon. It was that lemony.

Lots of vegetarian, vegan, and/or gluten free options. However, there is only one vegan main; everything else has meat. And putting together a dinner with appetizers can be really pricey.

Decor and cutlery is an odd combination of weird (uncomfortable chairs that swing out) and homey (orange-coloured ceramic plates that look rustic). Interesting items to look at on the walls, and water poured from what look like some kind of olive oil pourer.

Taste of Lebanon ($38) hummus, baba ghanouj, mohamara, spinach dip; fattoush salad, makali, falafel (2), batata harra; choice of main
  • The most filling part of this is the rice you get with your main course. The small portions of appetizers plus provided flatbread can really add up, the Taste of Lebanon is actually pretty good for two people as advertised.
  • For the main, we chose Lamb Kafta (3 burgers of ground lamb, tomatoes, green pepper, onions, parsley, choice of rice).
    • Not sure I would have gone with the lamb if I knew it would be burgers. It is actually in the name: "kafta" refers to meatball / meatloaf.
    • Very filling from the rice but otherwise pretty average.
  • The "three courses" refers to the appetizers coming in two sets (the dips, and a plate of the rest) before the main (your third course).
  • The "cauliflower" is the same as about a half portion of the makali appetizer.
  • Spinach Dip -- Looks like pond scum but tastes okay.
  • Falafel -- Really decent! Creamy on the inside, very crispy on the outside. Ping pong ball sized.
  • Batata Harra (cubed potatoes tossed in garlic and cilantro) -- Fried potato is fried potato.
  • Price breaks down to about $20 to try out eight appetizers. If we assume the appetizers are half portions of a full appetizer order, this is $2.50 per half appetizer, which is a decent deal considering appetizers are normally around $8.
Hummus trio ($9.50)
  • Special of the day featuring the original hummus and two others with special flavours.
  • Could barely make out any difference between the flavours, to be honest. You will have to really concentrate on your food here.
  • Combined with the flatbread you get, there is the real possibility of this working out to a light meal all on its own and definitely a good vegan/gluten-free dining option without having to resort to ordering a main.
Makdous ($4) pickled eggplant stuffed with chili and walnuts
  • Sharp sour flavour. Swimming in olive oil (?).
  • Portion is maybe 1 cup's worth of small eggplants.
  • Interesting to try, but definitely pair this with something else milder. Best to get this to share with 3 people so each person just gets one bite of this appetizer.
Makali ($8.50) deep fried cauliflower, pomegranate molasses
  • Where's my pomegranate molasses? Maybe it's tossed in, but the flavour didn't make it out past what tasted like an overwhelming amount of lemon. Sometimes you can barely taste any deep fried goodness here.
  • Portion is maybe 2 cups (?).
Chocolate Indulgence ($8) peppery 70% dark chocolate and vanilla (?) ice cream with fresh mint
  • Three sticks (portion like a KitKat bar, but heavier) of dark chocolate studded with something (fruit? nuts?) and with a strong peppery flavour.
  • Generous amount of smooth white ice cream.
  • On its own, the pepper may be off-putting, so try a bit first. I recommend pairing with not to much of the ice cream, and definitely try to get a little bit of mint with the ice cream.
  • Decently portioned dessert at $8 and good to share with 3 persons -- 1 stick per person.
  • Could use sharing plates if you are sharing. Pick up a whole stick, scoop ice cream onto it. Watch for dripping (hence the sharing plates).
? ($?) Pancake with jam and cottage cheese
  • If you see this on the dessert menu, skip. It's boring -- mostly you just taste the jam.
We went on a weeknight at 8:30 PM. Place was still packed! Looked like just three servers on the floor and clearly overwhelmed.

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