Featured image: Sample of menu items @ Paramount Fine Foods. Photo credit: Aaron.
Last week, I had the opportunity to attend Paramount Fine Foods’ Grand Opening/Ribbon Cutting Event at their new Rideau Centre location. It was such an honour to have been invited. Also attending this event are local politicians, other food bloggers/vloggers/influencers and traditional media. It is apparently a tradition that at every Grand Opening Event for Paramount, there would be a donation made to a local charity. The charity of choice that night was Christie Lake Kids, an Ottawa-based charity providing recreational and skill-building programs to economically-disadvantaged children.
Paramount Fine Foods is a Middle Eastern restaurant, with many established locations in Toronto already. The Rideau Centre location is the first one to be opened in the Ottawa region with many more to come. There are plans to open more locations in Kanata, Barrhaven and South Keys, so stay tuned!
First of all, this is probably one of the nicest Lebanese restaurants I’ve been to in Ottawa. The ambience reminds me of a more posh version of Panera Bread. The kitchen is open-concept where patrons can easily see the shawarma on their high-tech vertical spits and wood-burning ovens where their pita bread is made-in house. Of note, their spits are one-of-a-kind, using laser technology to automatically cut off the parts of the meat as soon as it is cooked. This meat is then transferred to another warming plate as it is waiting to be devoured.
For this special event, a selection of their menu items were very nicely presented in small cocktail-sized portions. Even their baba ganouj and hummus were showcased in small cocktail glasses. I was very impressed with their presentation. I managed to sample all of their items and was pleasantly surprised every time.
For starters, their dips were very tasty and paired nicely with their other menu items. Their tabbouleh was refreshing and a nice contrast when served with a crunchy piece of pita chip. I really enjoyed their falafel, which was soft and tasty. I’ve had many falafels which are dry and hard in the past, so I have never been a huge fan of this item, until now.
Of note, all their meat is halal. The BBQ beef and chicken were nicely seasoned but I prefer the shawarma, which is more juicy and tender. The star of the night really was the saj bread. This is a thin bread encasing juicy, tender, tasty beef or chicken. This was highly recommended by several of the staff and I can understand why. Next, we were asked to try the lamb chops which was surprisingly delicious. I do not usually eat lamb because of the gamy taste but this was quite subtle in this dish. I really love kafta, so I am looking forward to returning to trying this dish since this was not one of the items they served tonight.
Lastly, I was a huge fan of their flat bread, manakeesh, with my favourite flavours being the simple, but tasty cheese one and the pizza one. These are especially good when dipped in their baba ganouj. And let’s not forget about their delicious baklava selection, which was a great way to end such a scrumptious meal.
The hosts of this event were extremely friendly. The marketing coordinator, Kyle, greeted us and made sure we were looked after throughout the night. The owner of this location, Farhan, gave us a tour of the kitchen and explained what distinguishes Paramount from other Lebanese restaurants in town. One of the team leads, Jessie, always ensured that we were well-fed and always brought out new delicious dishes for us to try as soon as it was plated. It was obvious that he was so passionate about the food here, which was really nice to see. Our friends (Breton & Casey) came with us to this event and the hosts were very willing to participate in interviews throughout the night. Check out their channel for a video of this awesome evening, including some interviews!
Ottawa is well-known for our abundance of great shawarma places, so I was skeptical initially of a new Lebanese restaurant. After this evening, from sampling their menu and talking to the owner and staff of this restaurant, I realize that they fit into a different niche in this saturated market. If you are looking for a nicer, sit-down Middle Eastern restaurant with a more comprehensive menu, then you should give Paramount Fine Foods a try!
For more information:
Paramount Fine Foods website: http://www.paramountfinefoods.com/home/
Christie Lake Kids website: http://www.christielakekids.com/index
Breton & Casey’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGhmFSAg_Idz12I5Ap5_oow
Disclosure: Other than the free samples I received the day of the event, I was not given any other form of compensation from Paramount Fine Foods.