This much-loved Middle-Eastern restaurant has served delicious mezzes, kebabs, hummus, and other Syrian-Armenian dishes out of Little Italy reliably for years. Le Petit Alep, a more casual iteration with a smaller, more straightforward menu, resides next door.
Location: 199 Rue Jean Talon Est Montréal, QC H2R 1S8
Phone #: (514) 270-6396
Alep’s full-wall window faces Jean Talon Street, which gets dark relatively early – and while the restaurant’s lighting is agreeably dim, the atmosphere is not. The decor is tastefully minimal. Plain white tablecloths cover the tables. Large groups of diners are often gathered at two or three tables pushed together, lending the room a pleasant, familial warmth. As many quiet couples share dishes and carafes of wine. It is usually busy – a busy clatter can be heard from the kitchen, partially open to the dining room – but not rushed.
I have encountered exceptional service and stunning flavor at both of the Aleps. On both occasions, our waiter provided counsel that was firm and clear but also warm and genuine. More importantly, their suggestions were all excellent and on-the-mark. At most restaurants, a waiter this insistent would rub me the wrong way. But the tastes that would follow erased my concerns.
Prices & Courses
Don’t come to Alep for a budget meal. That said, prices are more than fair considering the decor, presentation, service, and flavor. Sauces include lively, unique combinations of fresh ingredients, usually accompanying succulent beef or chicken. The mezzes whet your appetite with fine hummus, a deep, intense baba ganoush, and warm pita. The tabouleh is light and wholesome. The shrimp in spicy terbialy sauce provokes one of those transcendental taste experiences, when thoughts freely rise above your wallet and electrify your mood. Their delicate, rich terbialy contains secret ingredients, but it’s available for take-out at a modest price.
Don’t worry too much about whether to choose one of Alep’s dégustation options or just to go with your own instincts. I’ve tried both in a group, and everyone has been more than satisfied in both instances. The dégustation is a simple and easy way to get your dishes chosen and begin a diverse line of courses. Otherwise, you have a long list of choices – as far as I can tell, they’re all excellent.
After the Meal
Consider washing your meal down with some ayran – if you’ve always found this yogurt beverage a bit puzzling, you’ll understand its place perfectly alongside Alep’s piquant courses. At the end of it all, choose a pot of the thick, black Turkish coffee, with cardamom for extra flavor – Alep’s Turkish coffee can’t be matched.