I am surprised it has taken me so long to make my way to Tabule Middle Eastern restaurant. There are two locations in Toronto, one in midtown and the other in Riverside. I made my way to the Riverside location to see what the hype was all about. Upon stepping into the restaurant, I was immediately impressed. The decor and lighting mixed modern with rustic to create a cozy ambience. Traditional Middle Eastern music is playing softly in the background to further add to the atmosphere. I am greeted by owner, Diana Sideris, who is extremely warm and welcoming. She guides me to a table in the back and leaves me to peruse the menu.
Having just travelled to the Middle East, I had my fair share of hummus with vegetables, but I really missed enjoying the warm pita bread served with every meal. I had heard so many great things about the gluten-free, vegan laffa flat bread that I had to try for myself. Diana told me that she tinkered with a number of recipes but none were quite up to par. She eventually partnered up with a local company to create the perfect gluten-free version of this traditional bread, and perfection it is! I thought I would have been sick of hummus by now, but who can ever get sick of it? Their version has a nice thick and creamy consistency, topped with olive oil and spices. Paired with the laffa bread, which was warm and chewy, it was a delightful appetizer. I attempted to eat each piece of bread, but forced myself to save room for the main.
For the main course, I knew I wanted to try the falafels, which are gluten-free (another item I could not try in the Middle East), so I went for the falafel salad, with a side of tahini. The falafels were crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, just the way I like them! They were even better dipped in the tahini and hummus. The salad was tossed in a light lemon dressing with basil, mint and parsley. A very light pairing with the dense falafel balls- the perfect balance!
I stopped to chat with owner, Diana Sideris, to ask a couple questions regarding their menu offerings and her thoughts on the gluten-free food movement.
GFTO: How long have you had a special gluten-free menu available? What was the reasoning behind this decision? (i.e. customer request, noticed a shift in market)?
Diana Sideris: We have always had many gluten free options available . However about 2 years ago we introduced the gluten free laffa bread and the gluten free Tabule . The reasoning started as a personal one as I had personally had omitted gluten from my diet. I went to my doctor and asked if I can do a test for celiac and he said even if he does it it is never accurate so if I felt better not eating gluten to continue doing so. I then noticed through customer responses and social media what a demand there was and how excited customers were that they can eat our food with amazing gluten free pita and we started to target that market.
GFTO: What type of cross-contact prevention procedures are in place when handling food allergies, such as gluten? Would you call yourself a Celiac-friendly restaurant?
Tabule is doing such a great job of catering to the gluten-free community, and is well-recognized as being Celiac-friendly. It is refreshing to find places that are able to accommodate so many people without compromising taste or quality. That is true talent and passion right there.
Tabule has two locations: 810 Queen St E & 2009 Yonge St.