Miznon Makes Long Awaited Canadian Debut
The Tel-Aviv-based fast casual-with-a-touch-of-gourmet restaurant chain Miznon, had its long-awaited Canadian debut. Miznon opened in Toronto minus the Mediterranean sunshine earlier in February. But the cold blustery day didn’t stop hungry and curious guests from lining up, first at a Friends and Family event, and then at a media preview the day before its official opening. On the first day of its official opening, it drew the same kind of crowds, with customers lining out the door to take a seat or to take out.
Celebrity chef Eyal Shani opened the first Miznon in Tel Aviv in 2011. It now has locations across the globe including in Paris; Vienna; Melbourne, Singapore and New York. The restaurant is famous for taking street food and making it a bit fancy. He stuffs pita, the mid-eastern pocket bread, with ingredients like lamb, rotisserie broken chicken or wild mushrooms.
At the preview events guests could choose whatever they wanted off the menu which was handed to them when they arrived. Among the most popular were the Falafel Burger, and the Folded Cheeseburger, which TimeOut magazine called the best burger in New York City. Also on the menu were Miznon’s iconic items such as the Run Over Potato (a flattened baked potato festooned with sour cream, garlic, dill, and scallions) and the paper Bag of Green Beans (green beans tossed with lemon, salt, and olive oil) and of course, Shani’s famous Whole Roasted Baby Cauliflower, which helped catapult the Israeli chef to global fame. Excellent hummus and Miznon’s fluffy signature pita from one of the Middle East’s oldest pita bakeries are also popular.
Exclusive to the Miznon North America menu is the Bag of Golden Meat – overnight brisket and onions seared on a hot skillet with aioli, and the Candy Steak pita, charred overnight brisket, aioli, mustard, pickles, tomato, and red onion. The Toronto location is also the very first Miznon in the world to serve Halal-certified lamb and chicken. As at all Miznon there will be something locally inspired on the menu. Eyal Shani is in the process of researching and creating a dish or two based on what he sees in Toronto that will be very Ontario inspired.
While they waited for their orders, guests could listen to a cool playlist that included indie and world music tracks such as Black BMW. Shani is known for adding a club-like vibe to all his restaurants with great soundtracks.
Guests were served their pitas in special pita stands. One was overheard asking a server for a plate. “We don’t do plates here, ” was the response. Instead non-pita dishes are served on pieces of brown butcher paper, a big roll of which was hung under a signature wall commissioned by Toronto visual artist Daniel Mazzone.
“Miznon captures the heart of each location in its pita,” said Shani. “And there is no better place to host us than Toronto, a city filled with beauty, diversity, and energy represented in its food culture and amazing people. We’ve always wanted to come to Toronto and are excited to be part of the community and create happiness through the Miznon experience.”
The 2,000 square-foot-space features an open kitchen with a long counter bar sheathed in Miznon’s signature olive green tiles, under an industrial ceiling. While there is seating for 30-40 people, takeout has already become very popular with the business and midtown crowd. Everything on the menu is available for takeout except the “Run over Potatoes”. ”We have to be a little bit difficult, ” one of the staff joked.
Located on Bay Street in Yorkville, the Toronto branch’s interior is hip with a very relaxed vibe, an aesthetic typical of chef Shani’s establishments, be they Miznons or his more upscale restaurants in Tel Aviv and New York.
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