Sunday, April 21, 2013

Must Visit Mazaar

Reputation is important especially when it comes to restaurants. Although everyone has their personal tastes, there does seem to be a consensus in the food realm when an establishment is absolutely fabulous or demonstrably awful.

As a belated Valentine’s Day celebration, a new dining experience took place at Mazaar Lebanese Cuisine, in the heart of downtown Windsor, on 372 Ouellette Avenue.

When you enter the restaurant, there is a sense of awe that comes over you because of its grand decor and elegance. The blend of traditional and modern style really complemented the whole atmosphere.

Dining room of Mazaar
Now it may seem bizarre what happened next, but let me tell you, I was over the moon. Once seated, the waitress brought out a complimentary basket of freshly made buns, straight out of the oven. It was the perfect temperature, just waiting for my knife to cut open. It’s a good way to butter up a customer! Pun intended.

Freshly baked rolls
The menu was filled with a variety of choices, everything from hummus, shawarma, fattoush, tabbouli, to large platters filled with shish kabobs, shish kafta (ground lean beef), shish tawook (marinated chicken) and more. Meat lovers and vegetarians can unite because no one is left out.
Fattoush and hummus
The best deal that seemed to have a little bit of everything turned out to be the “Chef’s Platter,” which serves 4 people. It included fattoush, large hummus, tenderloin shish kabob, shish tawook, shish kafta, and chicken breast shawarma served with beryani rice and seasonal vegetables.

The delicious "Chef's Platter"
After a short wait for all the food to arrive, one by one the waitress placed a dish onto the table. She was pleasant and accommodating, knew the proper protocol of when to ask “how is your meal/do you need anything?” and took cues of when she should refill glasses, etc… The only thing I could suggest with the customer service aspect is to be mindful, even when there are only a few people in the restaurant. Having an early dinner reservation (it got significantly busier as the evening went on) the volume of ‘personal’ conversations felt a bit too much like a bar opening up for the evening time. Once more people started to show up, there was a switch in professionalism, and it felt more like the upscale restaurant that it was meant to be.

The presentation of each one was plated beautifully as you can see from the photos. It almost felt wrong to mess up the designs, but alas, it had to be done.

Overall, I was very impressed with the taste and high quality of the food. If I had to choose my favourites in the platter, it would be the fattoush salad and hummus for incredible flavours that I hadn’t experienced in these dishes before, the tenderness of the tenderloin kabobs, the beryani rice and crisp veggies.

For dessert, (yes there is always room for dessert!) the selection was small, but there were a few choices that looked appealing. Raspberry Shortcake seemed like the best option, and WOW.. not an ounce of disappointment. The cake itself was so moist, the raspberry filling had just the right amount of sweetness and the drizzling of chocolate sauce was the perfect touch.

Raspberry Shortcake 
Not realizing the size of this dessert, the signature Chocolate Mazaar was ordered too. Unfortunately, I thought it was overly-sweet and could only have one small piece. The presentation was great, but the decadence of the chocolate flavour was overwhelming to my palette. Perhaps for an intense chocolate lover, this would be ideal.
Chocolate Mazaar 
Mazaar prides itself in authentic Lebanese cuisine and I cannot wait to go back. As their name translates ‘a place you must visit’ I will say that never a truer word has been said.

Next time you’re looking to add some ethnic flare to your dining experience, check out Mazaar’s Lebanese Cuisine.