In early 2014, Mediterranean restaurant Byblos opened its doors in early 2014. As I have limited experience with traditional Mediterranean cuisine, I will limit my comments on the authenticity of Byblos’ creations. It did seem odd when I saw items such as ceviche and tartar on the menu; but if the food is good, who am I to judge.

Interestingly, Byblos shares the same owners as Weslodge Saloon and Patria, both popular downtown Toronto restaurants around the King and Spadina area. I have dined at Patria before, and common to both Byblos and Patria is the excellent décor. Byblos is separated into 2 stories; the ground floor is a traditional dining area and the second floor is decorated like a big lounge, comfortable and cozy sofa seats, and a bar area.

More than a year after its opening, Byblos is still relatively packed, especially during weekend dinner time. For those who are interested, it is definitely worthwhile to make reservations in advance to avoid disappointment.

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True to its theme, the wine list consists of a few wines from the Eastern Mediterranean area, like Greece and Lebanon (see below). The main grape variety of this red wine, Rapsani ($50), is Xinomavro. Grown widely around Naousa, Macedonia, Xinomavro at its best is reminiscent of Barolo, and I have been tricked in a blind tasting before. However, the Rapsani was not of equivalent quality, but still quite quaff-able, given its reasonable price tag of $50.

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The $55 Cave Kouroum Petit Noir is a red blend from mainly Carignan, Grenache, etc. It is interesting to me as it is uncommon to see a wine from Lebanon, so kudos to Byblos for trying to showcase something different on their wine list. Similar to the Rapsani, this wine is not overly complex, but represents a good-value and an easy drinking wine to accompany a meal.

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$10 Organic House Labneh, Fennel +‏ Honey + Olive Oil + Barbari Bread ~ I’ve tried both the original labneh and labneh with beets for an additional $3. My vote goes to the original version as the labneh flavour and creamy texture were more noticeable without being overwhelmed by the beets. Labneh is a cream cheese made from strained yogurt. It is preferable to traditional cream cheese as it is lower in calories.

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$17 Tuna Cerviche Green Schug + House Buttermilk + Squid Ink Chip ~ Although it was a well-made dish, it was an unexpected addition in a Mediterranean restaurant.

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$17 Steak Tartare, Chili Paste + Mint + Yogurt + Olive Oil + Barbari Bread ~ Another fusion appetizer.

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$14 Lamb Ribs Dukkah + Buttermilk Sauce + Carob Molasses + Red Chili Schug ~ The lamb ribs were sweet (from the molasses) and crunchy. Quite unique, worth a try.

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Oxtail Basmati Rice Kale + Black Trumpet Mushroom + Fried Shallots + House Yogurt ~ My personal favorite, but I’m likely biased as I am a die-hard carbs fan. My only criticism with regards to this dish is that the oxtail tasted somewhat bland.

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$5 Turkish coffee, freshly boiled on stove. A lovely way to end an evening if not for the fact that the price was a night’s sleep.

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Most recommended: Organic House Labneh, Oxtail Basmati Rice

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Suggestions for improvements:

1. Everything was done quite well. As a personal preference, I would have preferred to experience more traditional dishes rather than fusion creations.

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