On Wednesday evening, my October-birthday-trio of friends went to Banu (777 Queen Street West) for what was all three of our last Summerlicious outings of the year. It was also the first time for each of us to try Iranian cuisine, so we were doubly excited for that new experience!
Banu is an Iranian kabob and vodka bar and is readily accessible by streetcar on Queen Street or a pleasant walking distance from Queen station. Check out their Summerlicious menu ($15 lunch; $25 dinner). I’m immediately charmed just viewing Banu’s website and walking inside the restaurant for the first time. I really enjoy this kind of restaurant that values and explores cultural traditions and makes it its mission to position itself somehow within the ‘Canadian mosaic’. Food and culture are alive in Toronto! :)
Appetizer: MIRZA GHASEMI (vegetarian)
smoked eggplant, roasted garlic, tomato, egg
This was a nice and tasty start! It was warm and the flavours melded well together. The bread was also still warm and not too chewy or crispy.
Main: KHORESHT E KARAFS
veal shank, mixed herb and celery stew served with saffron basmati rice
I really enjoyed this one! The veal was tender and the stew, flavourful. I was surprised to taste it more sour than expected, but I liked it. I have to say though, it was the basmati rice that was particularly outstanding for me – LOVED IT. I also tried my friend’s vegan dish of Baghali Polo and was also blown away by the amazing taste of the rice with all of the different herbs and spices. I think she actually had the better pick of the night, though I thoroughly enjoyed both.
Dessert: SHOLEH ZARD
saffron, rose water, rice pudding
I made a mistake taking a close-up of this: it looks pretty big, but it’s actually a much more modest and manageable portion. What a unique dessert! Visually, I was immediately reminded of crème brûlée, though the two are really nothing alike. The aroma also makes an immediately delicious and distinctive impression. This was a rice pudding like I’d never known great rice pudding before.
A nice end for me for this year’s Summerlicious of food and friends! At 6:30pm, there were only a few other customers though the pace had certainly picked up two hours afterwards as we were leaving. I was pleased with this little introduction to Iranian fare and had a great time catching up in a nicely decorated restaurant with friendly and efficient service.