Just a note. This restaurant is now under new management. New name is Taste of Tunisia.
At the northern most point of Africa, jutting out just slightly and about 100 miles across the Mediterranean Sea from Sicily is the Tunisian Republic. About the size of California it’s strategic proximity to Europe has made it, historically, rife for conquest. As we discussed before, conquest is synonymous with great cuisine.
Settled by Berbers, invading (among others) Phoenicians, Romans, Arabs, Turks, French and Germans, brought with them spices, techniques, styles and utensils which have formed the basis for this cuisine that is a culinary marriage between Europe and Africa. The rich and tomato based sauces of France and Italy fuse with African spices like Cumin and Harrissa. Seafood and lamb are featured prominently.
Toronto immigrant Adul El-masari Abderrazak opened D’jerba-la-Douce in 2005. Abdul puts his years of experience in countries like France, Italy and of course, Tunisia to serve up family recipes from his boy hood days on the island of Jerba. With a limited menu Abdul is able to cook everything to order. Right from scratch with organic veggies and halal meat. “An intoxicating menu that fuses the cuisines of North Africa, Southern Italy and France in Toronto’s only Tunisian restaurant.” Completing the experience you can even enjoy the hookah on the back patio.
“So what does Tunisian food look like” you may ask?
I should point out that I was with a group so all dishes were served family style. I should also point out that while not very spicy, there certainly was some heat. My mouth was tingling but not burning.
So without further adieu.
Roughly speaking, from least to most favourite:
Couscous is the national dish of Tunisia. I have to admit, I don’t get couscous. I don’t like it. I don’t dislike it. I don’t get it. That said, I rather enjoyed the presentation here. We got a large platter with lamb chops and grilled chicken thighs. Both the chicken and lamb were good but nothing special and of course, the couscous is couscous.
Another platter with stewed lamb and green beans was brought out to have with the left over couscous. While I thought the sauce was good, the lamb was a bit lost. It was fall off the bone tender though.
Brique is a pastry stuffed with potato, egg and tuna. It’s somewhat similar to a samosa and was pretty good. It would make a nice snack to eat while driving.
A delicious Calamari Djerbieno is served in a tomato sauce flavoured with chilies and garlic. When calamari is over cooked (which is very easy to do) they get rubbery. These were over cooked but the tire like texture never bothers me anyway. This was a tasty dish.
The Grilled Shrimp la Marseillaise are head on shrimp, grilled and smothered in a garlic, tomato sauce. The sauce had a little more spice and the shrimp were earthy and pretty large. This was a great dish. Full of flavour and looked really nice to boot.
The Salad Grill Mushwa was a surprising highlight. A base of hummus like puree made a nice back drop for the eggs, capers and olives.
Last and certainly not least is the Merguese Sausage. Lamb sausages smothered in tomato sauce with french fried potatoes and poached egg. This was absolutely fabulous. I gobbled up as much as I could. Then had more. While I was very happy with the other dishes, this was easily my favourite.
There was also plenty of pita bread brought to the table for sopping up the sauce as the website says, “So it won’t go to waste.” Being a sauce and bread lover, I was all over that. The bread was pretty simple and really was just there for one purpose.
We were served a wonderful mint tea with dinner too. I got it just to try, figuring I wouldn’t care for it and as it turns out, it was very refreshing and a great palate cleanser between dishes.
You can find Djerba-la-Douce at 1475 Danforth Rd in Toronto, Ontario.
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You can also find them on the web.
Well that’s it for today. Catch ya later.