Saturday, March 10, 2018

The VIP treatment at Paramount Fine Foods

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the grand opening and ribbon cutting of Paramount Fine Foods new Windsor location. They had found my blog on facebook and were cool enough to send me an invite. I mean an actual physical invite, that showed up in a VIP box along with some rose shaped, pink coloured, Baklava. It was a nice touch. 

Paramount Middle Eastern Cuisine is a new Lebanese Restaraunt that opened up at the Windsor South SmartCenters outdoor mall at 3184 Dougal, unit A5. The "WalMart Plaza on Dougal" to most locals. What I didn't know before attending this event is that this is Paramount's 60th location. Yes, 60.  Paramount began as one Middle Eastern Restaurant in Mississauga and has spread quickly and is now one of the fastest growing chains in Canada, 

The first thing we noticed when we entered Paramount was a kids' play area off to the right. It's a walled-in floor to ceiling thing that you usually only see at places like McDonald's. I don't think I've ever seen one of these anywhere that wasn't fast food or something built around play areas like Chucky Cheese. It seemed a bit odd to me but also pretty cool. It also made me wish we had brought the kids.

My wife and I were offered a choice of either having a table to ourselves off to the side and ordering off the menu or joining the grand opening celebrations, which featured ala carte items constantly flowing from the kitchen to the floor on platters by the wait staff. A third option was also offered and it's what we took: both. We found a seat in the midst of their other invited guests and browsed the menu while trying some amazing appetizers and juice. Of these, I strongly recommend the Cheese Manakeesh and the Cocktail Juice.

I was very pleased to see that the Paramount menu was not the same menu you seem to find at every Lebanese place in the city. Yes, it has all of the usual stuff: the huge family platters, the shawarma wraps, the Shish-Tawook, tabbouleh etc. But you will also find Saj Wraps, the Manakeesh I already mentioned, Arayess (stuffed Kafta), and even burgers and wood-fired Pizza. It's also worth noting they serve breakfast which includes Lebanese specialties like Fatteh as well as fried eggs or an omelet.

My wife decided on the Tabliya Saj Chicken Shawarma and I went with the Sujuk or Spicy Sausage. Paramount tossed in a Mezza Plate (Moutabbal, Tabbouleh & Hummus) and some fresh hot bread, to go with our meals. My Sujuk was very good. The sausage was very well cooked and was hot without being too spicy. I got it with rice which was also good. I was impressed, but it didn't hold a candle to my wife's Saj wrap. That Saj wrap was the highlight of the meal for both of us. It was so good. My plans for our next trip are to combine our two meals. They offer a Sujuk Sausage Saj wrap as well and that's what I plan on trying on our next visit.

While eating, we were constantly offered various samples of other items off the menu and I have to admit I didn't try anything I didn't like. Everything looked great and tasted great. There was so much food floating around that night it was kind of magical. Both my wife and I ate well and probably ate too much. Then they insisted we have dessert.

For dessert, they brought out the Paramount Special. Layers of fresh strawberry and mango juice with mixed fruits, topped with fresh strawberry, kiwi, pineapple almonds, crushed pistachio, ashta cream and honey, This thing was amazing but neither of us had the room to finish it which was a bit of a shame.

In addition to the food, it was quite the party. As well as live music and many people doing the meet and greet thing, they also gave people a chance to try to bake some bread and I even got to learn how to shave some chicken shawarma. I have to like any place that trusts me with a sharp knife.

The night wrapped up with a series of speeches and presentations. Most of these about the Paramount chain and brand and lots of congratulations for opening their 60th location. There was one part of this that I think needs to be shared. One of the things Paramount is about is giving back to the community and while we were there they put their money where their mission statement is and presented a $10,000 cheque to the Windsor Cancer Center Foundation.

It's awesome to see places like Paramount who are so generous and willing to give back to the community they are part of. Especially when giving to a community they have just joined. All of this made for a very pleasant and memorable night. One my wife and I won't forget anytime soon. I realize that the entire point of the thing was to make an impression and it worked.

Windsor has its fair share of Lebanese restaurants but I honestly think Paramount sticks out. Both in the quality of food and service and their dedication to giving back to the local community. I fully plan on heading back, next time with the whole family. Though I'm going to leave the shawarma shaving to them. 

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