Restaurant Damas is an exceptional Syrian restaurant in Montreal whose success lies not only in the exotic dishes but also in the sublime surroundings. Damas is definitely one of the best restaurants in Montreal.
Damas Restaurant opened in 2010 on Parc, at the corner of Fairmount avenue. The location succumbed to a fire in February 2015, Damas lost everything so had to start up again. However, because of their popularity, the owners didn’t miss a beat and found new premises, reopening a few months later where they still find themselves – at the corner of Van Horne and Bloomfield street.
Damas is gorgeous ! Standing outside the large building with its simple façade, the view through the tall windows beckons everyone to enter and immediately grab one of the 100 or so seats before they are all taken. The chef and co-owner, Fuad Alneirabeie has created a sublime decor that recreates many similarities found in Syria. Right away there is a sense of being in the Middle East – a more modern Middle East, exuding warm colours like the red ceiling with its hanging Arabic-look ing pendant lights or the rich fabric of the bench seating along the walls. Damas is also cheery and bright. Look around at the different black and white tiles, all with Arabic-style motifs and covering not just the floor but the walls and surrounding the bar. Even the latticed ceiling with its distinct pattern is reminiscent of the Middle East. The surroundings will allow you to feel swept far away from Montreal, thanks to its music, the food and enticing aromas emanating from the kitchen and not to be forgotten, the welcome of the delightful owners Ivan Abbas and Fuad Alnirabie.
There is undoubtedly more space than at the previous location with the bonus of a superb corner-surround terrace in the summer for 70 people.
Leading on to the menu – this is what catches our attention the most. Chef Fuad has composed a menu entirely of Syrian specialities: spices and more spices, recognizable and unrecognizable flavours, plates filled with ingredients of eye-popping colours that you wish were in your crayon collection, and all served in very generous portions. The house specialties? Fish, charcoal bbq selections and Fattet Mozat (lamb shanks on a bed of yogurt and rice). We also love the Fattouch salad (and it was one of the best ever tasted), the cold mezzes and the octopus, all which can be served at the same time – perfect for mixing flavours. The tasting menu does change frequently enough, so new discoveries on any return visit will always be waiting! Everything is beautifully plated, highlighting the many bright colours incorporated into each dish. Syrian cuisine is all about family cooking and sharing, a concept that is a perfect fit for Restaurant Damas.
The wine list is taken care of by Sommelier Charles Tarzi and we note the names of many wonderful wines, many from private imports with prices starting around $50 per bottle. According to Ivan, the cocktail recipes go hand-in-hand with what’s on the menu, thanks to the chef who is behind these. « He adds a little ‘Damas’ touch, a Syrian touch, even to cocktails. » Dining at Damas can be expensive, yet we always leave feeling very satisfied. Some dishes are less costly, so it is possible to dine on a more reasonable budget.
The owners’ greatest pride? « To have created a restaurant that reflects my beautiful country. My country, which unfortunately is in a very difficult situation. Our food is so delicious, I think that we well-represent what we eat in Syria. I’m so proud to serve my cuisine in Montreal! »
Indeed, Damas offers Syrian cuisine that is varied, flavourful, delicious, and spicy with the most original presentations and tastes. « I do not want anyone to leave my restaurant feeling hungry! Damas is like our home, and everyone coming to our home is fed very well. »