Saturday, November 21, 2015

Free Lentil Soup & Garlic Sauce or: How to Get Your Arabic Restaurant a 5 Star Rating

Manouche Mediterranean Grill Express Take Out sign Guelph blog

When you've lived in the Middle East almost your whole life, and you relocate to a small city where burrito and schnitzel joints abound (seriously they're all on the same street), your eyes will be trained to be on the lookout for any restaurant selling food that has flavour. So when I saw that there was a new Mediterranean grill place in town I alerted my brother as soon as possible and we went to go check it out. When we came in to get some lunch, we were offered little cups of warm lentil soup and something delicious covered in garlic sauce. Pretty good first impression I'd say.

Manouche Mediterranean Grill Express Take Out sign Guelph blog

Manouche Grill is partially run by Amr, who also works as an engineer. He learned how to cook in a Lebanese restaurant in Hamilton, where he set up his first Mediterranean restaurant. He noticed there wasn't any good places to eat Arabic food in the city (yes this place makes Arabic food and not Greek or whatever you think Mediterranean means) and his keen eye led him to Guelph, where he saw that it was also lacking in such fare. Amr was busy preparing food behind the counter when my brother and I came in, but he talked about Manouche and how he plans to expand it to include a seating area where diners can actually sit down to enjoy their meals. He said that customers' favourite menu items were falafel and shawarma, but that he enjoyed the Egyptian food, like moussaka and an okra dish the best. Makes sense. His sister-in-law, who is a co-owner of the restaurant, provided the recipe for the okra via her grandmother. Home cooking is the best! (Oh and for those of you whom I know will say, "Hey moussaka is from MY country," moussaka can be found across the Middle East and the Balkans. If you want something from Manouche that is more authentically(?) Egyptian, I'd suggest you try the koshari, a mixture of rice, lentils, and macaroni noodles topped with tomato sauce and fried onions. Needless to say, that dish is FILLING.)

Manouche Grill Express Take Out sandwich station Guelph blog

I ordered the arayess (spiced ground beef, chopped onion, and parsley stuffed in pita bread - think of it as an Arabic style quesadilla) because I'd never tasted it before. My brother had the shish tawouk "sandwich," which is your traditional char-grilled chicken, but wrapped up in pita bread. And judging on what I tasted for lunch that afternoon I'd have to say, Amr - what are you doing being an engineer? You need to set up as many Arabic restaurants in town as there are drunk food/faux Mexican/Austrian places.

So if you're living in or around Guelph or are just visiting friends for the weekend and want to eat pretty tasty Arabic food, I'd suggest you try Manouche Grill. Their menu is halal and if you're a university student, they'll accept your meal plan. They're available for catering and ordering, buuuuut I don't know if it includes free lentil soup or not.

Manouche Mediterranean Grill Express shawarma spit Guelph blog
Amr was right. People really do like Manouche's shawarma.


  1. Love a good garlic sauce! I'm glad Amr has brought this treasure to Guelph.

    1. I know right? Doesn't it just make your day? Thanks for reading Alice! :)