TABULE (2009 Yonge, at Glebe, 416-483-3747) Complete dinners for $30 per person (lunches $20), including all taxes, tip and a Stella. Average main $15/$8. Open Monday to Thursday 11:30 am to 10:30 pm, Friday 11:30 am to 11 pm, Saturday noon to 11 pm, Sunday noon to 10 pm. Licensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNN
Had enough of winter? If March break in a summery clime isn’t in the cards, consider heading straight for Tabülè. No, it’s not some Club Med-style Caribbean resort, but a three-year-old Middle Eastern resto near Davisville where the menu is as perpetually sunny as the welcome is warm.
Tabülè ain’t your typical falafel joint. It’s a bright, spacious casbah lit by pierced lanterns that cast shifting shadows over pale green walls and fashionably bare tabletops.
Mirrored throw pillows add extra comfort to already amply padded banquettes, and a glass garage door across the facade opens to the street when weather permits. July maybe?
Meals begin with a complimentary plate of pickles – sliced crunchy dills, sour purple turnip, unpitted black olives, hellishly hot baby banana peppers – and continues with appetizers both hot and cold.
Garlicky hummus (small $4.30 lunch/$4.95 dinner, all served with toasted pita) comes smooth and nicely nipped with lemon juice. Flash-fried cauli’ florets ($5.95) get lightly dressed with nutty tahini, while Tabülè’s tabbouleh ($5/$5.50) arrives at table tossed in a lemony vinaigrette offset by what the menu calls “a hint of mint.” Merest suggestion more like.
Topped with thick, salty slabs of grilled Cypriot cheese, Tabülè’s halloumi salad ($8.50) finds a substantial pile of stalky arugula garnished with slivered threads of onion and splashed with a tart pomegranate vinaigrette. And though labni ($4.30/$4.95) – Lebanese cream cheese laced with aromatic za’atar – works well when spread on whole wheat pita, it’s even tastier as a dip for house-made grape leaves stuffed with rice ’n’ tomato (warak enab, $9).
Mujaddara – a cumin-kissed basmati pilaf laced with brown lentils and finished with tabbouleh – pulls double duty as both a starter on its own ($6.95) and as a side for mains like veggie kebabs ($8.50/$12.95). These same smokily grilled skewers of bell pepper, tomato, red onion and zucchini also appear as a side with beef kebabs ($9.50/$15.95). Asked if I’d like my skewers of steak medium, I optimistically specify rare. The kitchen cooks them medium nonetheless.
Our more than satisfying supper comes to an end with honey-doused squares of green pistachio baklava ($4.25) and steaming mugs of Moroccan mint tea ($3.50). It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand Tabülè’s runaway success. Give customers solidly executed grub made with quality ingredients at affordable prices served by friendly staff in a pleasant room and watch those lines form.
So much so that co-owner Diana Sideris – who met her future husband and Tabülè co-chef, Rony Goraichy, when she managed Jerusalem on Eglinton West – is already planning a second outpost in Leslieville.
These days, who isn’t?