Parallel Brothers is a brand-new Middle Eastern restaurant created by the Ozery brothers (Ozery Bakery) with the intention of sharing the amazing flavours and foods of the Middle East with us here in Toronto – and BOY, have they succeeded! Parallel’s dishes all contain their housemade sesame butter (comes in three flavours – classic, smokey, and beet – and is available for purchase at the restaurant) and are made with the best ingredients possible.
The head chef, Tomer Markovitz, who I was fortunate enough to meet and speak with when I visited, was born and raised in Israel, where he learned how to cook from his grandmother. He worked at a Michelin restaurant in France before moving to Toronto at age 27. He met and bonded with the Ozery brothers over their mutual love of tahini, a staple ingredient in many Mediterranean dishes. When crafting Parallel’s menu, he drew inspiration from his family’s heritage to make each and every dish an adventure into the magical world of his childhood’s cuisine. Upon speaking with him, it was evident that he takes great pride in creating great food with great ingredients. In Israel, known to be the vegan capital of the world for eating right now, there is hummus and falafel everywhere. I am still writing my reviews and highlights from my past trip, but after eating at Parallel, I will have to edit my feelings that great Israeli food isn’t available in Toronto, because it now is!
Parallel is located at 217 Geary Avenue, just east of Dufferin St. It might not sound convenient, but it’s worth finding! The high-ceilinged space boasts an open kitchen and their prep area with their massive sesame grinder on full display, so if you get lucky, you might get to see them craft the sesame butter! To order, just go up to the counter and ask for whatever dishes you want, and they will give you a little electronic pad with a number so they know where in the restaurant to bring your food. Each metal table has a sensor to place the pad on, while the high-top wooden tables work without one. The menu is full of many choices, so you will naturally have to go back multiple times to try all that they have to offer. My only problem was that I only tried 6 dishes so far, and look forward to getting back to try everything else!
Upon my first glance of the menu, there were a few items that caught my eye that I immediately knew I would order. Although, I admittedly was very distracted and hungry and might not have read every description of every dish! The fire-roasted veggies on hummus was UNREAL and an absolutely beautiful dish!! Chef Tomer explained to my mom and I that he does not use acid in his hummus or garlic, normally a staple in hummus. The absence of these ingredients left the tahini directly in the spotlight, creating a unique taste and a texture unlike any hummus I have had outside of Israel. The fire-roasted veggies (especially the onion and fried parsnip chips for me) added a great flavour to the already amazing hummus – the varieties of veg rotate based on what is in season or what Chef Tomer is inspired by!
Next up was the Masabacha, which is warm hummus with spicy “schug” (a Middle Eastern hot sauce originally from Yemen), warm chickpeas, lemon garlic chili dressing, and an organic hard-boiled egg (they were out of eggs by the time we arrived, so we happily enjoyed it without). The schug makes the hummus EXTRA GOOD!! It is pretty spicy, in the best way possible!
We also ordered nine of their UNREAL falafel, and before you wonder why I wanted so many, I will explain. The kitchen was closing, since Parallel is currently only open until 6pm (kitchen closes at 5pm!), and I wanted enough leftovers for lunch and knew that there wasn’t time to place an extra order once I tried everything. Each falafel ball is fried to perfection, but were light and so tasty with a deep green centre because of the fresh herbs used! They are served with their signature tahini (of course) and are delicious when dipped into the masabacha or hummus, or stuffed into a piece of their organic pita!
Since we don’t eat meat at home, and it’s not often organic/grass-fed when we eat out, I will always eat vegan options, but since Parallel sources the best of everything, I convinced my mom that I should try their Roast Beef Sandwich, which included roast beef, cucumber and tomato salad (I don’t normally like this, but it was great in this sandwich!), and caramelized onions. The soft and warm beef melded perfectly with the crunch of the salad – needless to say, the dish did not last very long! It was served with a delicious cabbage slaw with radish and carrots that I also polished off.
My mother loved her Parallel Salad, which includes kale, sweet potato, cabbage, lentils, walnuts, beet tahini, and a housemade lemon dressing. It also comes with goat cheese, although, my mother ordered it without. The beet tahini, although you might think that it would be too thick for a salad dressing, was the perfect consistency and flavour and the walnuts gave it a nice crunch! This salad is definitely one of the highlights of the menu and was presented beautifully, as with everything we ordered.
On the side, we were served organic pita as well as a little dish of house pickled cabbage, carrots, and a pickled hot pepper, as is traditional for Middle Eastern restaurants.
While we were waiting for our food, we sampled their house made vanilla halva and it was so melt-in-your-mouth delicious, so we bought the last piece to bring home for the rest of my family to enjoy. They also had a matcha coconut flavour and likely rotate it as they are so creative!
Next time I visit Parallel (hopefully soon!), I can’t wait to try their housemade labaneh (made with sheep and goat milk) and their Hummushuka, which is Shakshuka (organic eggs and tomato sauce) over hummus! I saw a picture of it on their Instagram and freaked out a little bit! A delicious breakfast dish meets my favourite food….
Parallel is open during the week from 10am-6pm – but, as mentioned the kitchen closes at 5, so make sure you get there early! The first time I went weeks ago, we arrived just minutes after 5 but we couldn’t order! They will be opening on weekends starting March 10th, and hopefully will be open at night in the near future!
This restaurant authentically captures the flavours and textures of Israeli cuisine, and as I put it after my first few bites – “This is the meal my stomach has been waiting for since I left Israel!” I don’t remember the last time I was *this* excited about new a new restaurant in Toronto, and somewhere I know that I can eat often without repeating the same dish! My mom always reminds me that really good people grow and create better food and Chef Tomer is proving this theory to be true!
Go visit them ASAP for an awesmazing meal made with delicious ingredients by super-nice people!