Nazareth Restaurant

 969 Bloor Street West

Nazareth is a small narrow restaurant run and owned by one person, Nazareth. Conveniently located at Bloor near Ossington (near Queen of Sheba) this place is a hidden gem in the Bloor corridor between Christie and Lansdowne. The owner is friendly, enthusiastic, and warm. The capacity of the place is not all that large. There are five to six tables arranged in a columnar fashion against the west wall of the restaurant. Seating a group bigger than 5 ? 6 people can be a challenge. The dimly lit atmosphere, paintings and local art covered walls in addition to the visible clientele make it all a true Ethiopian dining experience.

The menu is small, with essentially three choices, beef, chicken or veggie. The platters are huge and can be pleasantly satisfying for two people. The prices are very reasonable. For the two of us (veggie platter + two teas) we paid $13 including tax and tip. Our veggie platter was only $7.50 and it was just enough for two people. It comprised saut饤 chollard greens, peas, two types of mashed lentil dishes, boiled spiced cabbage, and salad.

The Ethiopian spiced tea (black tea) was amazing. It was similar to Indian Chai this tea was essentially Darjeeling or Ceylon or Earl Grey with cardamom, cloves, and ginger. Unlike most Ethiopian restaurants, the food was served hot , as opposed to most places that serve their dishes warm. Another observation was that our injera (like thin sourdough spongy pita) was served warm. Most Ethiopian places serve their injera cold and clammy.

Pria and Martin ordered the tibs dish, which was essentially different types beef cubes with salad and other vegetable dishes. For their meal they had to order another dish but for us, it was just enough food.

The flavours at Nazareth are much better than any I have tasted so far. She cooks the meal right when you order it, as opposed to having it pre-cooked and heating it before serving. This adds an intangible aura of freshness and a distinct irresistible flavour that I have not found anywhere else. I have eaten there for the past year, while frequenting other Ethiopian places on the occasion and have always returned to Nazareth. It could also be the ambiance coupled with her food makes it all the more authentic. Only being served by one person makes it feel more authentic.

The last time i went to Nazareth it was $26 for 4 people (the big veggie platter for 4 people) with a side of salad and the ceremonial Ethiopian coffee. We did not feel ripped off (like other Ethiopian restaurants in the city) and portions were large and plentiful. On this particular visit, Nazareth went crazy on the salt and we found chunks in our food, but overall, the food was piping hot, not too spicy, and perfectly portioned.

Late night dining .. all the way to 1.00 am . As long as she has food in the kitchen she will serve you. On Thursdays and weekends, the place acquires a more bar type atmosphere after 11.00 pm. The music is turned up a notch, with the demographics composed of a casual, super friendly, gregarious and a non-pretentious crowd. Dinner is still served in this atmosphere. Accepts all cards. Liquor license.

Bamiyan Kabob

In the world of ethnic cuisine, Afghani doesn’t usually register high on the radar. With only a smattering of restaurants in Toronto, I was lucky to stumble across one while looking for a completely different restaurant during one day’s aimless lunchtime drive. Located in a small strip mall up near the Science Centre, a bright, clean and sparse decor welcomes the visitor to Bamiyan. With similar names to Indian cuisine, like tikka and lahor it is easy to assume that Afghani cuisine doesn’t differ greatly in the Pan Asian sphere. However, beyond the food names, the similarlities with Indian cuisine end there. While Indian food is cooked in a sauce, Afghani food is all about dry spice. Bamiyan offers several dishes served “kebab style” including chicken tikka, lamb, sirloin steak and ground beef. You can order each dish with rice or without and it always comes accompanied by a side salad and a helping of naan. Afghani naan differs from Indian naan in that it is firmer and breadier than its more floppy namesake. One more difference in the cuisines is that the curries used in Indian food are spicy while Afghani spice is more benign. Bamiyan offers hot or mild sauce with each dish though even the spicy sauce is benign compared to typical Indian fare.

Bamiyam is the perfect spot for a quick atypical lunch. Orders are placed at the counter and you are given a number which is usually ready in short amount of time. Ample seating is available, though the restaurant can fill up at times due to its popularity.