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Restaurant review: Shook

After a fire forced them to close for over a year, Middle Eastern vegetarian restaurant Shook is finally back.

Shook: What's the vibe?

Mere months after opening in the summer of 2019, a fire forced Shook to shutter its doors. Then, the pandemic hit and we were left wondering whether the vegetarian Middle Eastern restaurant would ever return. Fast-forward to this winter, and Shook has finally made its comeback. The stunning, airy space has been reimagined as a café, bottle shop, retail market and restaurant all rolled into one, with plenty on offer amidst the lockdown.

Shook: What's on the menu?

Mornings see the café in full swing, serving coffee, tea and freshly baked goods. Swap the usual caffeinated items for the beets and roses latte with sweet hints of rosewater, vanilla and cardamom. In the bakery, biscotti, cookies, brownies and toasts are a sure-fire way to start your day right.

Available every morning, a list of healthy smoothies ranges from sweet and fruity to zesty and citrusy. Get a full dose of veggies with the mango green sabzi, a mixture of spinach, kale, mint, mango, cucumber, ginger, turmeric, coconut water and lemon. For fruit-based drinks of another kind, the bottle shop is stocked with red, white, rosé and sparkling wine from around the globe.

As for the new all-day menu, expect bold flavours and plenty of spices. Start with their homemade pita and dips. Flavourful spreads like za'alouk, made with tomato and eggplant, appear alongside tasty options like hummus and mutabal (similar to baba ghanoush). Crunchy falafel come on a bed of whipped tahini and green zhug hot sauce, while mushroom kibbeh are served with creamy labneh and truffle honey. The kreplach dumplings taste as good as they look, with roasted squash, ricotta and dukkah. Let’s just say Shook's reopening was worth the wait.

Shook: What else?

In the retail space, the shelves are lined with beautiful handmade bowls, pitchers and tableware from Mima Ceramics. There’s honey from Rosewood Estates Winery and dried bouquets from Botany Floral Studio in Toronto. Shook also packages their spices to buy, alongside an assortment of pickled vegetables. They’ve also partnered with Mind Your Bees to make their own beeswax wraps, printed in Shook’s brightly coloured fabric.

Dinner and drinks for two: around $80.

77 Portland St., 647-484-7476; shookkitchen.com

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