Alright, friends. I'm not going to lie to you (I like you all too much). When it comes to food, I lowkey do not have a preference. If you ask me what my favourite type of food is, I'll give you a different answer each time. Seriously. That's because, to me, the cuisine doesn't really matter very much. What matters the most to me is that the food is amazing.
I'd like to think that I do a pretty good job of locating amazing food in Montreal; and places with the very best treats tend to quickly climb to the top of my list of absolute faves. Every so often, though, I stumble upon a place that truly knocks my socks off (sidenote: is this a thing we all still say?). I stumble upon a place that has me downright excited to return. I stumble upon a place that does more than just impress me - it leaves an impression on me.
Every so often, friends, I stumble upon a place like Cuisine D'Izza (228 Rue Bernard O). A place where the food, vibe, and decor all meld together beautifully to create an unforgettable and impeccable dining experience.
The very first thing I noticed about Cuisine D'Izza, though? The decor. Real talk, interior design is one of my secret life passions. Whenever a space is beautiful, it instantly wins all kinds of points in my book. And this place is seriously beautiful, friends, with rich and inviting hues and chique, industrial accents. The space blends the traditional with the contemporary, a theme that's very common at this Mile End eatery.
The menu follows the whole modern-meets-traditional theme, too, with authentic ingredients spun into contemporary offerings. A sample of the delicious dishes at Cuisine D'Izza? Merguez pogos (!!!) and Moroccan style Shepherd's Pie (AKA hachis Parmentier), both of which I had the privilege to try - and both of which are out of this world delicious.
Before I get into some of their more complex dishes, I want to take a minute and talk about their fava beans. Yes, friends, you read that right. Their fava beans. I'm going to be upfront with you guys: I've had fava beans, like, hundreds of times in my life. They're always pretty good, sure - but I mean, they're just fava beans.
And then I tried them at Cuisine D'Izza. Guys, these are more than just fava beans. These moist morsels are marinated in fragrant, flavourful cumin, and a conversation with owner Jeremie Assouline reveals just why these things are on a whole other level. Their beans, their cumin - pretty much every single ingredient on the menu? Super, super high quality. It's very clear to me that Mr. Assouline goes out of his way to ensure that the ingredients in his restaurant are of the highest quality, no matter how far in Montreal he has to go to get them.
Although the fava beans were a clear, delicious standout - well, they weren't even the best part of the meal. It's actually very difficult to pick a clear winner in terms of which dish I enjoyed the most. I tried their artichoke and parmesan dip with homemade, lemon-marinated pita chips: delicious. I sampled their leek pastels with labneh dip - I could actually write a novel about how good this dish is. Very delicate; crispy on the outside and soft on the inside; bursting with flavour; and served up with the freshest labneh dip you've ever tried, hands down.
But my favourite appetizer? The merguez pogos. Friends, I almost started crying the second I bit into that tasty, hearty, pure merguez sausage, encased in a fluffy, crispy batter. Like, tears of joy were about to start streaming down my face. I had to hold it together. They were just that good - although, honestly, all the appetizers that I tried were home runs.
And the main dishes were just as mouthwatering. I tried both the pastilla pot pie with chicken, almonds, and ginger and the braised lamb hachis Parmentier (which was kind of like a Morrocon twist on a traditional Shepherd's pie). Again, I couldn't decide which one I liked the best. The pastilla was flaky, flavourful, with a medley of different ingredients melding together to create a beautiful dish.
The Shepherd's Pie was a perfect combination of flavours and textures: one crisp, crunchy layer gave way to a thick, soft, and hearty layer of home-mashed potatoes, which led me right to the beautifully flavoured, moist braised lamb. Everything worked together perfectly.
For dessert, I had the halva mousse with fig jam. One bite of this unique dessert, and I was hooked. It had a super soft, buttery texture, with a nutty and sweet flavour, complimented perfectly by the sweet fig jam. I was supposed to have split the dish with my dinner guest... but I lost all control and ate the whole thing. Sorry not sorry. It was like a symphony of happiness.
Actually, a symphony of happiness is a pretty great way to describe Cuisine D'Izza. Their dishes are a combination of traditional and contemporary. It's Moroccan cuisine that pops - and not only does everything work amazingly well together, but their dishes? Yeah. I'm very confident in saying that they actually reach whole new levels of amazing.
Also, S/O to that steaming hot, sweet Morrocan tea that's pretty much ruined me for all other teas out there. Oh, and the lowkey amazing Moroccan tea mojito. It's not as sweet as a traditional mojito, which I personally thought was amazing, but it's super, super flavourful; if you're going to get a little something to drink (because hey, we're all adults here), I definitely recommend you try that out.
To me, it's super obvious that everything about this restaurant is made with passion, pride, and love. Speaking with Chef Michael Levy, it was very, very clear to me that nothing left the kitchen if it wasn't as perfect as the food I'd experienced. In speaking with owner Jeremie Assouline, I could literally feel the passion and pride he had in his restaurant, and how much he put into it.
The whole entire team at Cuisine D'Izza were very friendly and welcoming, too. It's super clear that they go the extra mile to make sure you feel like something more than just a client. The whole night, I felt like I was among friends; I felt comfortable enough that I thought it would be pretty okay if I jumped behind the bar and started mixing myself some drinks while talking to everyone about how my week was going so far. (I didn't, because even I have my limits, but you guys get the point).
All in all, everything - from the decor, to the food, to the service - is super, super on point at this Moroccan eatery. To be honest, it feels to me like a night out at Cuisine D'Izza isn't just a night out. It's an experience, friends; and one that has left me wanting to come back for more.
If Cuisine D'Izza sounds like your new fave, you can check out their Facebook page for more information.