MOMO'S (196 Robert, at Harbord, 416-966-6671) Complete meals for $25 per person, including all taxes, tip and a beer. Average main $11. Open daily 11 am to 11 pm. Licensed. Access: two steps at doorway. Rating: NN
Momo's doesn't stray too far from the takeout standards of Middle Eastern cooking, but serves them in the comfort of a semi-subterranean dining room. Unfortunately, the real virtues of great takeout - simple, wham-bam in-your-hand food - don't translate so well in MoMo's sit-down scenario.
The lentil soup ($3.25), subtly spiced and laced with parsley, raises expectations but cools rapidly as a result of being served in a cold bowl. Temperature issues affect the uninspired spinach pie ($3.75), too, which seems to have gotten too little time in the microwave.
The falafel plate ($8.75) features a big mound of greens in a bracing lemon vinaigrette, but nothing else excels, especially the bland hummus. The shawarma plate ($9.99) gets the same treatment, and the chicken is more chewy than tender.
The service is friendly and efficient except for the forgotten fried cauliflower ($3.75), which is rushed to the table before dessert. Benefiting from its expedited delivery, the lemon- and parsley-enhanced veg arrives with fresh-out-of-the-pan vigour.
We're really rooting for the homemade upside-down cake ($3.75), but it turns out to be a large breadish slice upon which a topping of pineapple and pecans has little effect. Better to order the small, restrained baklava ($1.75).
MoMo's also runs a pleasantly packed little emporium directly adjacent to the restaurant. Along with typical Middle Eastern groceries like spices and herbs, coffee and cans of fig jam, you can browse more specialized items like hookahs and ceramic plaques showing vistas of Jerusalem.