Don't let a nearly empty dining room at 93 Harbord tempt you to reconsider your choice for the evening and pick from one of the many nearby Italian joints instead. Although it may not be "hot" at the moment, chef/owner Isam Kaisi's reasonably priced and interesting North African and Middle Eastern dishes and friendly service make it a worthwhile stop.
Our appetizers were delicious: The grilled octopus was stuffed with a tasty mixture of peppers and feta. The hummus was a creamy version drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice that added a welcome tang. The accompanying pita bread was fresh and served warm. Our main courses were even better: braised lamb shank served with a dollop of minted yogurt and couscous-crusted red snapper topped with matchstick slices of mango and chili-lime butter. We ordered a bottle of red wine at first and then ran back to the waiter to switch to a bottle of cava which turned out to be a wise choice. The baklava was tempting but pistachio gelato on College Street beckoned. Unfortunately, the hunt for the real stuff (at least the creamy, intensely flavored version I remember from my trips to Italy) will go on after two failed attempts (including the much-touted Sicilian Sidewalk Cafe, which I'm embarrassed to say we tossed in the trash after waiting in line for 15 minutes...).
93 Harbord St. (at Spadina Ave, 4 blocks south of the TTC stop)