A gourmet restaurant/supermarket taste of Lebanon coming to Pickering Friday

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Published March 5, 2024 at 9:40 am

Stuffed Grape Leaves

Pickering will be getting more than just a taste of Lebanon this week when El Gourmet, an upscale Lebanese supermarket and grocery, holds its grand opening at First Pickering Plaza.

El Gourmet offers authentic Lebanese food including shawarma, baked goods and snacks. The supermarket/restaurant also has a dedicated AAA butcher, one of the many services that sets it apart from other Lebanese and middle eastern food shops, says owner Khalil Assad.

Assad said his family has been in the food business for nearly 35 years and has helped establish 24 restaurants, including Steak & Cheese Factory, Quick Pit, Mexi Burrito and more.

“El Gourmet is a totally different level and a unique Lebanese supermarket,” he said, citing the authentic Lebanese bakery and his butcher, who specializes in Kibbi Nayyi and Malsi, something Assad recommends everyone tries to experience the flavours.

The restaurant also offers BBQ chicken, shawarma and all kinds of kabobs – most of which, Assam adds, “are not available anywhere else in North America” – and a one-of-a-kind Mama’s Lebanese kitchen with dishes such as stuffed cabbage and zucchini and veggie and beef grape leaves.

There’s also the pastry shop, which features the best of Lebanese kunafa b jibn and halewet eljibn and other delicacies, which Assad promises to be “amazing stuff,” as well as cheesecakes and cupcakes from the Cheesecake Factory.

Some of the Lebanese dishes you can find at El Gourmet include:

  • Shish Barak – a traditional Middle Eastern dish consisting of small dumplings filled with spiced ground meat, typically lamb or beef, cooked in a savory yogurt sauce flavored with garlic and mint.

Moutabbal

  • Moutabbal – made primarily with roasted eggplant, tahini (sesame paste), garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil.
  • Grape leaves – often stuffed with a mixture of rice, herbs, and sometimes meat, creating a flavorful and aromatic dish.
  • Koosa mihshy (stuffed zucchini) – one of the Middle East’s most beloved dishes, this is filled with meat, rice, tomatoes, and a touch of seven spice
  • Makdous – a traditional Middle Eastern dish, particularly popular in countries like Lebanon and Syria. It consists of small, pickled eggplants stuffed with walnuts, garlic, and red pepper, marinated in olive oil.

Kunafa

  • Golden threads of Kunafa, layered with sweet cheese, soaked in syrup, is a Middle Eastern delicacy that melts in every bite.
  • Manakeesh – A traditional Lebanese breakfast

Manakeesh

The grand opening for El Gourmet (1550 Kingston Rd, Units 16-17-18) will be Friday, March 8 from noon to one p.m., with the ribbon cutting at 12:15 p.m.

The El Gourmet website is currently under construction but you can learn more at https://www.instagram.com/elgourmetmarket/?hl=en.

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