After pondering for a couple of weeks on whether or not to try the shawarma at Paradise, Dartmouth’s newest restaurant on Wyse Road, I took a chance on it. I have to say that after living abroad and being spoiled by authentic shish kebab (doner, shawarma, or gyro depending on what part of the Mediterranean or Middle East) I was apprehensive. As soon as I entered the newly renovated space that for years was home to Kel’s Deli, I was impressed to see the stylishness with the fresh colors and traditional matching decorations. Due to government regulations, patrons are not permitted to use the water pipes on display, but you can sit in a comfortable chair and listen to the satisfying traditional instrumental music and take in the aromas of the kitchen. Shutting my eyes, I could almost believe I was in another part of the world, yet so pleased to reminisce while experiencing this at my home of Dartmouth.
When leaving I decided to ask if they had Ayran, a traditional yogurt drink which since living back in Nova Scotia I have only found premade and not as fresh as I had once came to know it. I was told it was made in their kitchen and soon I was on my way home with a cup. Upon opening my shawarma wrap, I was happy to see that it was neatly put together with care. The bread was toasted to perfection still leaving the inside of the pita soft yet the outside pealing similar to phyllo, the toppings were diced and the sauce so flavourful that only a modest amount was necessary to give the perfectly spiced cooked meat with its exterior caramelized and the pieces of juicey and thinly sliced, its complimentary touch. One bite and I was not disappointed, it was the best shawarma I have ever had the pleasure to enjoy. The Ayran was a perfect beverage of creamy yogurt and garlic which was the first drink this summer that actually left me feeling refreshed. Although the food was delicious, conversing with owner Fadi Alkhatib was very pleasant and engaging while he was focused on putting together my order. I commented on the beautiful interior transformation and Fadi he took pride in telling me that he had done all the work himself. His sister who works in immigrant settlement was on hand giving it a warm family business feel. Paradise has two chefs, one from Turkey and one from Syria who both tend to the hard work required to produce such gourmet fare.
It wasn’t until my second visit that I had the pleasure to meet new staff who further gave the restaurant its welcoming and engaging environment. As a bonus I found out from Fadi a tidbit, not quite a secret, but definitely a surreptitious touch to tantalize your taste buds … but I won’t disclose it here … you should find out for yourself.
I highly recommend Paradise Damascus Restaurant, in fact, I have not stopped telling people about it.
Photos by Jen Gorman