by Dr. Fressen
Hi Everyone, just got back from a nice weekend trip to Windsor ON where the wonderful Mrs. Fressen and myself attended a gorgeous wedding of two friends. Wish we could have reviewed that feast, but felt it would be inappropriate to start taking photos of our plates in front of strangers! But no worries, we did eat at one of Windsor’s best tasting restaurants, as informed by reviewers online and a few of the guests at the wedding.
On route to our hotel for the weekend, the MRS and I were quite surprised to see the variety in the dining scene in Windsor. The traditional restaurant-type of fare were well represented: bar food, bistro food, Chinese-Canadian, Italian, but we were surprised and relieved to see Indian food, Japanese and Middle Eastern. After a quick search online and a tip from a patient, we had settled on Mazaar, a restaurant specializing in Lebanese cuisine. A quick call the evening before and we were able to get a reservation for a busy Friday night. If you have never had Lebanese or Middle Eastern cuisine, you are definitely missing out! Both Lebanese and Middle Eastern cuisine are becoming more popular due to its innate healthiness intertwined with taste bud bursting flavours. As well, many of the dishes are made primarily from vegetables and the absence of meat can go unnoticed.
After strolling through downtown Windsor, checking out Ceasar’s Palace (holds nothing to the one in Las Vegas), we finally made our way to Mazaar. Being a pleasant evening for walking, we both agreed that Mazaar needed to have a patio as we would love to people watch. Lucky for us, Mazaar did have a patio and an open table was available. The decor is contemporary, hip, and clean and the staff was efficient and friendly. Our waitress, Melissa, reviewed the menu, highlighted a few popular dishes and asked if we would like anything to drink. Being a Friday evening on a celebratory trip, I opted for a pint of Stella and the first lady enquired if “raspberry lemonade” was available. Melissa said no but could whip something up. She came back in about five minutes with my frosty Stella pint and a strawberry lemonade, which she said we could try and if we didn’t like, she would bring something else. A very nice gesture, but was not needed as the strawberry lemonade quenched the first lady’s thirst better than my Stella!
We took Melissa’s advise and ordered the Duo BBQ platter, as it hit on everything we were hoping to try. The meal included two appetizers, a salad called Fattoush and hummus dip with fresh pitas as well as beef tenderloin shish kabob and chicken shish tawook.
Lets start the the appetizers. The Fattoush was mixture of salad greens, cucumber, tomato and fried pita chips, drizzled in the “Mazaar signature fatuous dressing.” Basically, the dressing was an oil and vinegar dressing that kept the salad nice and light. The Fattoush was an excellent opening act and served to get our stomachs growling and tastebuds salivating. The hummus, what can I say other than out-of-this-world good! The hummus was made fresh, the chickpeas, lemon and tahini drizzled with olive oil was just amazing, making the store bought imitation taste like swamp water. The hot, fresh, home-made pita bread was perfect for dipping. The first lady and I both agree that we have never had hummus and pita bread that tasted as good as this. I wish there was smell-o-vision through this screen for you to experience what it tasted and smelt like. Just divine!
The tasty hummus raised our expectations for the main course. The BBQ platter came with beryani rice, which included 22 different herbs and spices, marinated for hours with the rice before finally cooking. The beryani rice was colourful and flavourful, but could have used a little more cumin and salt to enhance the flavour profile of the dish. The beryani rice was okay, not a smashing success but not a failure either. The seasoned vegetables, mainly green beans and carrots, were sautéed nicely and seasoned well. No complaints here. The meats were a different story. The chicken shish tawook consisted of marinated boneless chicken breast, seasoned with a variety of herbs and grilled. The Middle Eastern flavours were well-balanced and seasoned the chicken breast superbly. The chicken was moist and cooked expertly. The beef tenderloin shish kabob was cooked to a medium/medium-well doneness and seasoned expertly. Again, the meat was tender, moist, and flavourful. The only enhancement I could think of for the meats was to cook them over charcoal to give the meat the nice, barbecue flavour and add some depth to the flavour profile. The garlic sauce (garlic, egg whites, lemon) was definitely garlicky but we found it too over-powering for the delicate flavours of the meat. The amount of food for the main course was surprisingly a lot, especially for two people.
Overall, the meal was a pleasant surprise and an excellent value. The hummus was divine and we could have eaten three orders of it, the salad, rice and chicken were okay and the beef tenderloin was good. Would we go back, absolutely for the hummus and service. Our molars left satisfied with a nice take home container for seconds later in the evening!