At the Hayat restaurant, you are welcomed as you would be with family members. The new address in Old Montreal explores Syrian and Lebanese cuisine, with a menu by chef Joseph Awad.

The co-owners wanted to highlight their family history and their culinary traditions in their new project. A few nods are scattered here and there, like the team’s childhood photos that adorn the menu or the phrase “Sahten, mon amour” (Bon appetit, my love) written at the bottom of the plates. But traditional dishes from the Levant are reinvented.

“We’re pushing the bon vivant lifestyle like us in the Middle East,” explains chef Joseph Awad (Damascus, SHAY, Momofuku), who is assisted in the kitchen by chef Gabi Deeb. It’s about gathering with friends and family at a full table. »

We come to Hayat, well surrounded, to savor dishes to share mezze style. You can go with specialties, such as hummus, fattoush salad or shish taouk, all deliciously colorful and elegantly served.

Want to think a little off the beaten path? We opt for manti, a type of ravioli which is stuffed with fake meat and served with yogurt foam and smoked clarified butter, or boreg with fried cheese. And if you have a weakness for sweets, let yourself be tempted by the baklava pancakes, a classic from the chef.

As for drinks, oriental flavors are omnipresent, with touches of rose, sumac or arak in the cocktails created by Caitlan Do Couto. We try the chamomile whiskey sour (with chamomile and turmeric syrups) or the Jadda martini, a reinvention of the (very popular) espresso martini, with tahini syrup and arak.

The wine list, put together by the maître d’hôtel, Pierre Lombardo, gives pride of place to French wines and also contains a few bottles of privately imported Lebanese wines. A great way to discover them and make a local pairing.

The friendly atmosphere, which remains refined, is enhanced by the room nicely designed by Ivy Studio. The numerous benches and the curves create an enveloping setting for the guests, a den, which is both elegant and timeless.

The team is already impatiently waiting for summer to open the terrace, which will be able to accommodate more than a hundred people. “We want to offer something interesting for the people of Old Montreal,” explains co-owner Nazim Tedjini. And why not become a must in Montreal for Syrian-Lebanese cuisine? » Only time will tell us the answer, but we can already say that the neighborhood has a new establishment that wonderfully celebrates Middle Eastern cuisine.