Damas MontrealPosted By Jennifer Ho Feb 19 2012 · 0 comments · Dining Out
Damas is the other major contender for the top spot in Syrian cuisine in Montreal’s Mile End. Going quite literally head to head with Kaza Maza (the two restaurants are within a couple blocks of each other), I have to say both places are very good – but there are slight differences that may sway one diner towards one or the other. For example, Kaza Maza has more of a casual dining atmosphere and prices to match. It is smaller and has a more homey feel with a little couch in the front, some throw pillows and a beautiful Syrian printed cover to match as well as a house-like interior with alcoves and a variety of different rooms partitioned by stucco-like walls. Damas has more of a fancy “night out” feel as the place is more ornately decorated, has dimmer lighting and a more open space concept. Prices here are significantly higher but the size of the main meals are more than enough to fill one hungry person whereas at Kaza, you might order a few mains to share to get full. Both places though, as mentioned before, are phenomenal. You’d be in good hands no matter which of the two you choose!
We started off with a baba ganouj which was made with smoked eggplants, pomegranate, tomato and walnuts as well as a fattouch salad. The baba ganouj had a perfectly smoky taste – with every bite you really got that dark, intense flavor. Being paired with the acidic popping taste of the pomegranate seeds and crunchiness of the walnuts, the dish was an immediate favorite for our table. The fattouch salad was almost equally good but some of us did have some issues with the sourness that seemed to build on our palates as more and more of the dish disappeared. Either you must have a higher tolerance for sour foods or you’ll need to skip this one. Then came the three cold mezzes – one beet mutabal, one mouhammara (nuttily delicious) and one eggplant mousaqa’a with yogurt sauce.
For the mains, we had a serving of the bamia d’alep which came with apricots, prunes, okra, coriander and a pomegranate-tomato sauce. This was my dish – it was definitely one of the heavier, darker dishes we ordered that evening. The meat was cooked to perfection, tender and just falling off the bone, meshing harmoniously with the sauces that surrounded it. The only complaint that I had is that the rice was a little too wet for my liking – the consistency was moist and sticky as opposed to the more drier texture of friki or basmati which was what I had come to expect. We got a beautifully plated shakriyye lamb covered in creamy saffron and mint yogurt sauce, an eggplant maqlouba (saffron perfumed rice layered with eggplants, kawarma, pistachios and almonds) and a lamb friki. All of these are more than enough to sate a voracious appetite – we had trouble finishing ours up and trust me, they were well worth it.
Ending our delightful evening with a cup of traditional Syrian black tea, we said goodbye to our friendly server and the host with all intentions of coming back in the near future.
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