Parallel Restaurant was conceived from three brothers, Alon, Guy and Aharon Ozery, and from their family history and love of sesame butter, or what we know as tahini. Together with Chef Tomer Markowitz, who worked in Tel Aviv and later a one star Michelin restaurant in Nice, they developed a menu and concept for their new venture, Parallel.
Located down an industrial street in the West end, full of warehouses and beer microbreweries and automotive shops, you will find this modern, industrial haven at 217 Geary Avenue.
The clever design is created with raw materials, cement floors and walls, wood, metal, open kitchen, and production space in the back. This 2,500 foot space has a cafe, and two large imported basalt stones where they grind their sesame seeds in-house and produce their own sesame butter that they sell and use in many of their dishes, including there excellent halava.
The second level contains seats overlooking the restaurant, and they cleverly used the roof over their washroom area to grow their fresh herbs that are used in their dishes. The front glass doors will open in warmer weather where they will have additional seating. The whole place has a real hipster vibe to it.
The chef combines traditional techniques with modern flavours in his cooking, and always adding sesame butter as a staple in his food. We went for brunch and some standouts were the shakshouka, a tomato and egg dish, served on a bed of hummus, the chopped salad, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions and chickpeas, and hard boiled eggs over a hummus and tahini mixture. The Parallel salad, a mix of kale, lentils, walnuts, sweet potato and goat cheese with a lemon dressing. The fire roasted veggies on hummus, and the house-made labneh (yogurt) with olive oil, garlic, tomato and za’atar were also delightful. But the highlight, were THE best falafel I have EVER had! Crispy on the outside and bright green and full of flavour on the inside, made with coriander, mint, scallions, parsley and green pepper. All these were a vegetarians dream. However, they also serve an arais, a lamb and beef lemon filled pita and a grilled chicken breast. There are beers from various breweries on tap as well as coffees, spritzers and fresh made smoothies.
The downside is they don’t take reservations, so be prepared for lineups. But they offer samples of halava or tahini on crackers to tide you over.
At dinner there is wines offered as well as more meat and fish choices. For lunch there are sandwiches, along with the salads and hummus dishes.
There is a small store where you can purchase a half dozen flavours of halava, and three types of sesame butter. They are open daily except Mondays, and Sunday they are only open from 10-4 pm only.
Parallel is a fun place to try, with interesting twists on classic Middle Eastern dishes.