Halal upscale ethnic street food is what Chef Aleem Syed is serving up at The Midpoint from Thursday-Sunday in downtown Toronto. This is in anticipation of the launch of his food truck “The Holy Grill” in February 2015. Chef Aleem came to greet us in person and invited us to come take a look at his menu. With each and every customer that came in, he went over the entire menu in detail, explaining all the components of each dish. Rarely do we get to interact and chat with the chef himself, so this was a pleasant surprise for us. Chef Aleem is passionate about his food and is really excited about his new venture. He knows exactly where his food comes from. He places a great emphasis on using local ingredients and supporting local farmers.
Chef Aleem has worked for reputable restaurants in Toronto including Canoe, North 44, and Terra, before a spinal cord injury put him on a wheelchair. His extensive culinary training and experience was evident in the way he ran the kitchen and how knowledgable he was about food.
The menu changes up every week and most items are under $10, which is great! Chef Aleem recommended the burgers, so we ordered both of them and also got poutine.
Mom’s Butter Chicken Poutine ($6) was a poutine with a South Asian flare. It was a combination of fries smothered with butter chicken curry, topped with cheese and garnished with chopped vegetables. It was a savoury dish that explained in one bite what Chef Aleem meant by ‘ethnic street food’.
The Cheese Burger ($9) was one of the best cheeseburgers we have ever had. We were pretty stoked by the bun alone that everything else was a just a bonus. For the big, mean meat patty, this soft and hearty bun with a distinct sweetness did justice to the burger. The halal bacon and cheese completed the cheeseburger and made it perfect.
The Big Diesel ($9) was our absolute favourite dish of the evening. We mean, just look at it! Does the picture not force you say Mashallah, TabarakAllah? This burger was heaven. The toppings were a marriage made in heaven: sweet and tangy sauce, a fried egg, pickles, halal bacon, cheese, crunchy bits on top of a juicy beef patty. They may just bring tears of joy to your eyes!
Two disclaimers for Muslims visiting The Midpoint: Chef Aleem only rents the kitchen from the owner of The Midpoint. The Midpoint does have a full-service bar but Chef Aleem’s menu doesn’t offer alcohol. Since a diverse population visits to try Chef Aleem’s food, some customers do order alcohol. However, all profits from the bar go straight to the owner and aren’t affiliated with the pop-up. Furthermore, the ambiance with loud music and dim lighting may not be to the liking of some customers.
1180 Queen Street West, Toronto
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