Alsalam is one of those restaurants I pass by on a daily basis, yet for whatever reason, I never make the right hand turn into the parking lot. This situation, as we all know, needed to be taken care of eventually and I finally pulled the trigger last week. The last time I visited this building the space was occupied by Pita the Great, and with most of my current Lebanese business going to La Shish downtown, I was hopefully to have these delicious treats back in my neighbourhood.
Walking in to the restaurant/bakery, it appeared as nothing had changed; a small selection of grocery items were located on the right, the kitchen was still smack dab in the middle, and plenty of available seating on the left side overlooking the parking lot. With a steady flow of bulk pita orders ahead of me, I had time to walk around and snap a few pictures.
Eventually the man operating the oven noticed my camera, and after a brief talk, invited me to the back for a closer picture. A wonderful level of kindness I felt throughout my visit. As much as it pained me to do so, I had to eventually step away from the oven and order. After ordering a kafta kebab plate, I was quickly brought into plenty of conversations happening around the store. I couldn’t believe how friendly and welcoming this crew were, and at times I couldn’t tell if the gentlemen talking to me were employees or customers (I slowly discovered it was a mix of both).
With my ordered tucked away in a styrofoam box, a fresh pita was slid into the bag and I was on my way. The only thing was, I didn’t make it home. The amazing smell quickly filled the car and seduced me to pull over for an impromptu picnic. The pita was fantastic, but then again it was fresh and still warm. The meat was fully cooked with no pink, but remained juicy and was spiced wonderfully. A little bit of heat which was cooled by a dip in the accompanied yogurt and hummus. The fattoush salad was really refreshing, and leap years better than the standard bag salad so many restaurants serve. The rice was the poorest addition; while it’s colour was rich, it was rather dry and didn’t add much…and seriously, that’s what the pita was for.
Combine the friendly environment with a tasty meal, and I’m glad to have Alsalam in my backyard.