Fairouz: Gourmet Middle Eastern Cuisine Meets Ottawa
Fairouz is a relative newcomer to the Ottawa restaurant scene, having opened in 2016, yet its dining treasures have attracted a sizeable following who are wanting to discover all the flavors of Middle East cuisine in surroundings that are both chic yet casual.
Located in a red brick former residence on Somerset Street in the Somerset Village area of Ottawa, « Fairouz » is a nod to a classic Lebanese restaurant, that had occupied the same premises two decades ago. One of the previous owners, Hussain Rahal, decided to relaunch Fairouz, but with a new partner – Tony Garcia. This time, however, the project is completely different. The new Fairouz experience is far from the classic shawarma bouis-bouis, and instead serves a contemporary, casual and highly–rated Middle East cuisine.
In the kitchen, the young but well-seasoned chef, Walid El-Tawel is behind these updated dishes that fuse Middle Eastern flavours with our own regional products. After an enriching stint as the chef of Ottawa’s Restaurant E18hteen and in Toronto, Walid has returned to the National Capital to offer a tantalizing cuisine that reflects all the delicious qualities found in Middle Eastern dishes. To do this, Fairouz is taking local ingredients and products, supplied by local farms, and skillfully elevating the flavors through the use of Middle Eastern herbs and spices. The result is most delicious! We particularly enjoyed the formulas of the Mezze Sundays and Mondays with the many small plates to share, enticing us to leave the comfort of our homes on these occasions. The menu is full of treasures and the enthusiastic staff is more than willing to help you go through the choices.
Fairouz continues showing off what it can do through the decor. The interior of this attractive former home opens up to an elegant modern design with Arabic touches. The different spaces are delineated by colours, style, and furniture. White or wallpapered walls with modern Arabic-style patterns, red brick walls, plum velvet or turquoise tufted-leather banquettes, orange bar seats surrounded by beautifully designed screen dividers, mirrors …… The nod here and there to the color turquoise leads back to the Arabic name « fairouz ». The main floor can seat 70 people, and there is a private dining room on the next level for another 45. The interior of Fairouz, which provides a magnificent backdrop to the beautiful dishes, is the creation of Kayla Pongrac Design, a Canadian artist and designer from Ottawa.
The wine list at Fairouz is an interesting one that offers Canadian, Lebanese, Moroccan and also French labels: a collection to enjoy! In addition to the wine list, there is a creative and original selection of cocktails. It is also an absolute must to taste the Arak blends, a traditional clear, anis-flavored alcoholic drink found in the Levant region of the Middle East. An Arak-mezzé evening is highly recommended!
Fairouz is a deliciously pleasant and beautifully elegant restaurant. We very much enjoyed our dining experience, and suggest that now is the time for you to discover Fairouz for yourselves – Bon appétit!
Written by Marilou Nantel
Photography by Fairouz