Address: 268 Portage Ave.
Phone: (204) 504-2155
(Editor’s Note – This business is no longer open.)
Karen Peters spent two years based in Turkey serving as a chef aboard a gulet boat sailing between Mediterranean ports. Now she’s sharing the savoury flavours of one of the world’s most diverse culinary regions at her 100-seat restaurant, Arkadash Bistro & Lounge.
Familiar, homegrown products, such as beef and honey, are transformed into osso bucco and almond tarator. This commitment to local sourcing is proudly emphasized on the menu, with a salute to two dozen suppliers.
The former Chocolate Shop space is unrecognizable, apart from its solid cherry wood booths, courtesy of an interior transformation designed by Peters’ architect hubby. Bright and white, the dining room features a wall covered in the restaurant’s emblem, blue evil eye decals.
The aforementioned almond tarator is a standout; creamy and dense with garlicky warmth and whispers of honey quite unlike anything we have tasted. Tarator, a traditional Balkan dish, is one of the meze options (little dishes for sharing), a welcome addition to this evolving menu. A punchy spoon salad packed with harmonizing flavours of tomato, cucumber, parsley, mint, chiles and pomegranate and silky hummus-like fava bean purée are standouts. Splurge on an order of Afghani naan; differing from its widely known Indian cousin, the bread pulls apart in long strips.
One of three Moroccan tanjines offered, the lamb is brawny yet juicy with a slow-simmered sauce layered with cardamom, clove, chilli, cumin and peppercorns, a traditional ras el hanout blend Peters crafts herself.
As Arkadash is one of a handful of local eateries with a house pastry chef, dessert is a must. We regularly regard Chef David Corby’s creations the meal’s pinnacle. We fondly recall summer’s trio of sorbets, particularly the exquisite Chardonnay pear, but we’ll happily settle into winter with a sticky toffee fig pudding that’s too good to share.
Arkadash Bistro & Lounge is open Mon-Fri 11:30 am-midnight; Fri 11:30 am-2 am; Sat 5 pm-2 am.