Location: 235 Augusta Avenue, Toronto
I recently had a pide at Byblos Uptown that was good but not great; now here comes Best Istanbul Restaurant to show them how it’s really done.
I tried a couple of pides, and they were both seriously delicious. There was the Sucuk Pide (“Turkish flatbread with mozzarella, sucuk meat and eggs”) and the Veggie Pide (“mozzarella, spinach and feta cheese”).
Both were quite good, though the sucuk was my favourite of the two. If you’re unfamiliar with sucuk (which is sometimes spelled sujuk), it’s a really tasty, intensely-spiced sausage that’s kind of like a turbo-charged version of pepperoni. It’s so good.
It works perfectly on the pide, with its assertive flavour matching perfectly with the mild, gooey cheese. The crust is great too, with a nice exterior crispiness and a satisfyingly chewy/fluffy interior. I didn’t notice the egg, however; either they forgot about it (the picture on the menu shows a full egg yolk on the pide), or they mixed it right in with the cheese (though it didn’t taste like they did).
The Veggie was quite tasty as well, though the crust was slightly thinner and crispier, which wasn’t quite as satisfying as the other one. It was also a bit underseasoned, though a spritz from the accompanying lemon wedge easily took care of that problem.
Location: 2537 Yonge Street, Toronto
Brunch is great, no doubt about it. Eggs Benedict, pancakes, French toast — all tasty stuff. But sometimes you want something a bit different, and if that’s the case, the Middle-Eastern-influenced brunch menu at Byblos fits the bill quite nicely.
We started with the Turkish Manti Dumplings (“eggplant + yogurt sauce + date molasses”), which was easily the weakest dish of the three I tried. The yogurt/molasses sauce was one-note sweet and tangy, and the dumplings were basically pure mush. There was almost no distinction in texture between the wrapper and the creamy filling.
Up next was the Eggplant Kibbeh: “zucchini flower + baharat + chickpea batter.” This was interesting. Kibbeh is a Middle Eastern dish made from spiced ground beef; it’s essentially a fried meatball stuffed with more meat.
The vegetarian version they serve here has only the most vague kibbeh-like properties, but it’s tasty for what it is; it’s nicely spiced, and the creamy filling contrasts well with the crispy fried exterior.
My main meal was the Bastirma Khachapuri: “manouri cheese + egg + guindilla + urfa chili.” This was basically a Turkish pide filled with cheese, eggs, and bastirma, a cured meat that’s generally thought to be the precursor to pastrami.
It was pretty tasty — it was freshly baked, with a nice crispy exterior and a chewy interior. It’s not the best pide you’ll ever eat, but of course, the combo of cheese, eggs, and salty cured meat is a winner. That’s always going to be a winner. It’s hard to go wrong there.