My fiancé and I recently had the pleasure of dining at Diwan inside the Aga Khan Museum*. Unfortunately, Diwan seems to fly under the radar on the Toronto food scene and does not have a big presence on social media. I’m really hoping to help change that through this blog post because we were really, really impressed by our meal there!
Just a short drive north on the DVP from downtown Toronto, the Aga Khan Museum is known not only for its art exhibits, but also for its amazing architecture and beautiful Aga Khan park grounds. The modern, clean lines and all white façade of the building make it a blogger’s and photographer’s paradise. But I urge all of you who plan to shoot at or visit the Aga Khan Museum in future: the next time you go, make sure to leave room in your itinerary (and stomach) for Diwan! Otherwise, you’d really be missing out!
Diwan is open for lunch only from Tuesday to Sunday, between 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. It’s in the Damascus Room of the museum, which features floor-to-ceiling windows and 19th-century wooden panels that were hand-carved and painted in Damascus, Syria. The ceiling is also a showstopper. The whole room has such a majestic feeling to it that you’d swear you should be dining with royalty. It also has a beautiful outdoor patio that overlooks the Aga Khan park and is perfect for eating and drinking outside when the weather is warm. The food service is run by none other than Mark McEwan, famous chef and restauranteur behind other incredible Toronto restaurants, North 44, One, Bymark and Fabbrica.
In terms of the cuisine, it’s a mashup of Middle Eastern, Turkish, Indian and North African and it certainly lives up to the McEwan standard. My fiancé (who is 1/2 Turkish) was happy to find Mantı (cheese or meat-filled dumplings) and Imam Bayıldı (baked eggplant) on the menu. But, I should mention that they change their menu often, so many of the dishes we had are not currently available. You can find a link to the latest menu offerings here.
We each started with a colourful juice – cactus lychee pear for Alex (which I found to be a bit sweet) and watermelon lemonade for me (which was totally refreshing). All of the juices at Diwan are $6.50 and can be made into mimosas for only $12 total, if you want to have a boozy brunch. We ordered 3 different appetizers and one main course for each of us, which we found to be more than enough food. And since all bloggers know that food photos usually look a lot better when there are a lot of dishes on the table, we opted to have everything come out at the same time.
For our appies, we had the beet salad ($12.00), Halloumi cheese ($14.00) with figs and crostini and Imam Bayıldı ($14.00) (baked eggplant). All were very good, but my favourite was the eggplant (not just because I’m partial to Turkish food). I loved the couscous with chick peas that it was served on and the pomegranates on top added a nice texture to the dish!
Alex ordered the Mantı ($24.00) for his main course, and I of course had a few bites so I’d be able to properly write about them ;). We both loved the dumplings and the lamb ragout they were served on, which gave the traditional Turkish dish an unexpected twist! If it wasn’t for the fact that I ate so many bites of the appetizers before digging into the grilled whole Sea Bream ($28.00) that I ordered, I would have eaten the entire thing in less than a minute. It was grilled to absolute perfection and so, so flavourful! Unlucky for us, the Sea Bream isn’t on the menu anymore, but maybe if I ask real nice, the restaurant will agree to bring it back!
Since Alex always saves room for dessert, he opted for the Walnut Pistachio phyllo rolls (which he thought would be like baklava, but they weren’t) served with coconut ice cream on top. I normally would have a glass of wine for my dessert, but since I wasn’t drinking, I instead got a coffee.
Diwan gets my vote for best under-the-radar restaurant north of Bloor St. and I truly hope more people go and see for themselves. I love the fusion menu and modern spin on all of the dishes. I neglected to mention the service was pretty flawless too, and extra points to the restaurant for actually bringing me a step stool to take top down table shots! Sidenote: I realize I really shouldn’t write blog posts about food as good as this at night, because putting this post together literally made my mouth water. Wouldn’t you agree?
*Note that this is a post sponsored by the restaurant; but as always, all opinions are 100% my own.