Middle eastern flavours soothe sullied stomachs

Fernando Rodrigos slices the trimmings off the spit

Fernando Rodrigos slices the trimmings off the spit



If you’re looking for a nightcap to remedy the six or seven other nightcaps you had at the bar earlier, you may already be on your way to Montfort.

Montfort Mediterranean Cuisine opened in the early ‘90s and has not only remained an Oakville staple, but has since expanded to 14 locations and now offers catering services.

The Iroquois Shore Road location is owned and operated by Rabab (Rebecca) Shoufany and her daughter, Dalal Arraf.

“We really try to make it as ‘back home’ as we possibly can,” says Arraf. “So all the recipes are things that you would have in a traditional Arabic home, like the shawarma and everything. Maybe it’s prepared a little bit differently, but it’s the same thing.”

Arraf, a first-generation Canadian of Palestinian decent, takes pride in her family’s craft, but can recall a time when an unrefined palate posed a problem.

Photo courtesy of montfortrestaurants.com

Photo courtesy of montfortrestaurants.com

“I didn’t like the food when I was a lot younger, I used to always eat grilled cheese pitas,” says Arraf. “My mom used to make me hummus as part of my lunch and I used to not want to eat it in front of my friends. But now it’s like ‘Oh my God, you have hummus? Give me some!’”

Nestled in a deceivingly modest strip mall across from Sheridan’s Skills Training Centre, the Iroquois Road location opens up wide and deep once inside.

Oval red laps hang from the restaurant’s ceiling, illuminating the several upholstered alcoves lining the walls.

The kitchen occupies the right side of the restaurant and a vertical spit stands at the edge by the window.

“We go through so much shawarma a day, I think we probably go through around one or two of the spits,” says Arraf.
Montfort is open until 4 a.m. on weekends, and Arraf says the restaurant’s peak hours are between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m., after the local bars and clubs have chased out remaining partygoers.

“People usually go to places like McDonald’s in the morning after clubs,” says Arraf “(My parents) just thought to themselves ‘Well, what if we had a place that was open all night?’ At least this way people are getting real food, it’s better quality. Plus it tastes really good when you’re drunk.”

Montfort’s kitchen is open until 3 a.m. on weekdays, and 4 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays

Montfort’s kitchen is open until 3 a.m. on weekdays, and 4 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays

Johnny Robson, 25, subscribes to the notion of a higher quality late-night snack.

“You got the pineapples, you got the onions, you got the lettuce, you got the pita wrap, plus you got the chicken,” says Robson. “You’ve got three major food groups there. You got veggies, protein, grains – it’s the first step to curing a hangover.”

Others, like Lucas Davidson, like Montfort for its versatility.

Davidson says he enjoys having both a proper sit-down dinner at Montfort as well as a place to get a quick snack.
“To me, I consider it more of a diner, if you will. Because you don’t feel obligated to sit there,” says Davidson.

Aside from the pineapples in the Montfort chicken, Arraf says the food is simple, traditional and made from scratch – not that the no-frills approach would deter her from getting sentimental about the shawarma.
“It’s different from any other shawarma that I’ve tried,” says Arraf. “Even going back home, I always miss the shawarma coming from Montfort. The taste of it is just different, I don’t know what exactly makes it different, but to me it tastes like home.”

Check out locations, hours and menus at montfortrestaurants.com