Volume 96, Issue 81
Wednesday, March 5, 2003

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RESTAURANT REVIEW: Barakat's affordable international delights

Barakat Restaurant
551 Richmond St.

Niru Somayajula/Gazette
By Jeff Zon
Gazette Staff

When you are restricted by a student budget, it can seem a daunting task to find an affordable meal that doesn't fall into the boring greaseburger and fries category. Luckily, Barakat Restaurant, situated on busy Richmond Street just south of Central Avenue, is available to end your dining doldrums.

Upon entering, customers are greeted with a warm but not extravagant atmosphere, characterized by framed colour photos of picturesque Middle Eastern scapes. Greetings come from behind the counter from at least one of the three Lebanese brothers who own and operate the restaurant.

To start, pita with hummus ($2.99) will whet your appetite. This Mediterranean flatbread dipped in a thick and tangy garnish of ground chickpeas and tahini delivers a hint of the savoury tastes yet to come.

The Barakat Special ($19.99) is the ultimate sampler and will be all you and a guest will need to fulfill a hearty appetite. The salad is a mix of lettuce, parsley, cucumber, tomato, onion, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and toasted pita. A little spice adds a kick to the dressing.

Niru Somayajula/Gazette
Just when you thought the salad was spicy, four kebabs – half chicken, half beef – will tantalize your taste buds with a unique blend of spices that you would be hard pressed to find elsewhere. While the chicken (tawook) is spicier than the beef (kafta), coating either one with Barakat's garlic sauce will complement the spices with a gentle soothing flavour. The special also comes with a sizable portion of rice and vegetables with hummus for dipping.

A taste of the Middle East is not limited to meat eaters. Falafel – a dish of chickpeas chopped, seasoned, rolled into a ball and fried – costs only $5. Though not as piquant as the kebabs, falafel also comes with its own soothing cool dip.

To wash it all down, make sure to order one of six fruit and vegetable juices that Barakat freshly squeezes in house. Your choice of carrot, mango, lemonade, orange, strawberry and apple may be a little pricy at $2.50 to $2.99, but well worth the investment.

You don't necessarily need to dine in to experience the warmth of the Barakat experience. Frequent patrons of the Pita Pit or Sammy's Souvlaki will likely enjoy a chicken or beef shawarma. These pitas are topped with your choice of garlic sauce, tomatoes, pickle, parsley and onion, loaded with seasoned chicken strips, and toasted to perfection. Brave diners may also add hot sauce. At $3.99, shawarmas make an ideal lunch or snack at a cheaper price than their ordinary flavour-deficient competitors.


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