Alep: The best of Syrian and Armenian gastronomy

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Opened on June 15, 1976, Alep Restaurant, established just a stone’s throw from the Jean-Talon Market, is a true institution in Montreal; a timeless place that makes you travel.

Alep Restaurant is, above all, a family business. The father of the current owners, originally from Aleppo in Syria, opened the legendary restaurant one year after his arrival in Montreal. Today, it is the mother, Jacqueline Frangié (née Saroukhan), and their two daughters, Chahla and Tania, who have taken over the running of this beloved restaurant.

A menu of classics

The menu has always been founded on the great classics of traditional Syrian and Armenian cuisine. When the restaurant opened, one item on their menu was impossible to offer: the lamb kebab. The reason being that lamb was too expensive to be imported at the time. Time has passed and we are now lucky to savour their delicious lamb.

The current menu is very similar to the original one, as each dish has earned its place and can no longer be removed, victims of their success. “Big tables, big portions”, the menu is developed to offer the customer the ultimate feast experience; that’s why the tasting menu is very often recommended to be sure to taste everything. “Syrian and Armenian cuisines are both sharing cuisines. Just as in the expression ‘the more the merrier’, it is the same with food. Each dish complements the previous one. There is something magical about it, it is a true marriage of flavours.” Here, you can certainly savour the best of Armenian and Syrian cuisine in Montreal.

For the love of wine

Anyone who has ever been to Alep will agree that it has one of the best wine lists in town. There are some real gems that make the experience even more enjoyable. Alain Paillassard is in charge of putting it together “for the love of wine”. For the love of wine, because when they were asked whether or not to open the wine cellar inside the restaurant, they were asked the following question: “What do you prefer? Do you want to create a menu for the love of wine or for the money behind it?” You already know the answer. It is extremely important for them to work with winemakers who work from their heart.

The space underwent many changes before it took its final shape. The first locale was much smaller than today. The family has also done some nice renovations to freshen up the space, all while preserving its character. The restaurant seats up to 70 people; a large space perfect for large group dinners and unparalleled feasts. For smaller plates and a more intimate decor, the team also opened the equally beloved Le Petit Alep next door.

While we are eager to sit down for a meal at Alep again, the owners are even more eager to serve their loyal customers. “There’s that cozy, comfortable feel to the space that we love at Alep. We can’t wait to sit at the big tables again, to keep the history of the restaurant alive, to see the different generations come and go. The memories come back with each evening and it reminds us of our roots”, concludes Tania.

Photography by Alison Slattery — 

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