3 Month Review: Roman Zaman
Hidden in an unassuming strip mall on Central Parkway West, Roman Zaman is a feast for the eyes. Decorated in a Mediterranean style inspired by Damascas with a central fountain and beautiful lanterns that cast an incredible glow in the dark, I could not wait to sit down and soak it all in.
With cozy booths for two - or eight - and large tables for families, it was easy to see that it was party time! I could not wait to dig into the menu to see what the food surprises were. It really is a beautiful spot.
“I couldn't find fault with any of the dishes we tried.”
Food wise - everything! I couldn't find fault with any of the dishes we tried. As a matter of fact, my husband said the shawarma was the best he'd ever had - and he's the shawarma connoisseur!
“The servers were dressed in gorgeous, colourful robes which really added to the ambiance.”
I loved the way the food and drinks were served. First of all, the servers were dressed in gorgeous, colourful robes which really added to the ambiance. Our appetizer came in a beautiful copper dish, our mains on gorgeous wooden boards and tea in fabulous tea sets that really helped set the mood. You know what? The nicer the serving dish, the better the food tastes!
What they can improve on:
I guess we arrived at the wrong time and waited in line for about 20 minutes before being seated. There were two large parties and another couple in front of us and we needed to wait until all were seated before we were finally shown to a table. I understand that guests need to wait their turn, but if you're waiting for people to arrive or for seating for large parties to free up, why would you not seat the parties of two when there are small, empty tables waiting? We seemed to wait for a long time while the host seated and chatted with the last large party while there was an available table within arm's reach.
It also seemed to take a very long time for tables to be reset once folks had left and our table wasn't complete when we were shown to it. We had to ask for napkins because they were missing and the salt shaker was empty.
Lastly, for such an upscale, beautiful restaurant with delicious food, chic serving vessels and traditionally dressed servers, why would they serve the sauces in plastic takeout containers? The garlic and tahini sauces were perfect accompaniments to our dinner, but having to take the tops off plastic containers just cheapened the whole experience. They have such gorgeous dishes, why not invest in a few tiny ones and serve the sauces in the splendour that they should be served in?
What we tried:
I started with the Tea Damascene ($3.99) which was a tasty green tea with a herbaceous note. We also opted for the Arabic coffee ($3.99) which was exactly as it should be - thick and very dark with a slightly sweet hit on the tongue when he dropped in a sugar cube.
For our appetizer, it was really hard to decide. There were a number of interesting sounding options and we decided to go with the Muttabal ($6.99), a roasted eggplant dip with tahini and olive oil. Served with piping hot, puffy pita bread, it was amazing. The smoky, silky and slightly bitter eggplant smoothed by the tahini and olive oil was wonderful loaded on to the bread. How can a lowly eggplant taste oh so good?
For his main, we had the Roman Zaman Shawarma Platter ($16.99) which included both beef and chicken shawarma. The duo of meats were tender with crispy bits from the grill adding to the flavour. The pickled turnip and cucumber were excellent. More pita bread was used to wrap the shawarma and along with the garlic and tahini sauces, it was a taste feast. Served with delicious yellow rice, each grain individual and decorated with pomegranate seeds, almonds and herbs, it was really, really good.
I chose the Roman Zaman Mixed Grill ($19.59) which featured four different skewers: one beef, one shish tawook (chicken) and two minced beef kababs flavoured with their secret blend of herbs and spices. What can I say? The first thing I liked was that the meat was removed from the skewers so I didn't need to fight with those. The beef and chicken were so tender, juicy and flavourful, they didn't need the sauces at all but adding them created a taste explosion in my mouth. Matched with grilled and charred onion and tomato, the combination was scrumptious. The minced beef kabobs were amazing. So fresh and savory, I really enjoyed the texture and the taste. Served with the same rice as mentioned above, it was an incredible meal.
Unfortunately, we were both too full to try dessert - boo hoo! I think we'll go back and try some of the other appetizers that looked so unique and perhaps share a main so we can indulge in something sweet at the end. If you're looking for something charming and a little different but huge in taste and flavour, give Roman Zaman a try. It's definitely worth a visit!
Type of Restaurant: Full service