The resurrection has been well-chronicled by now—freak fire ravages standout Syrian restaurant; owner relocates from Mile End to Outremont. The irresistible tale of woe and redemption, however, will get told a few more times as Montreal's critics acquaint themselves with the revived Damas, one by one. Lesley Chesterman, the first in, declared Damas one of the best restaurants in Montreal a month ago. Her counterpart at La Presse stops short of that today, but has clearly fallen for Damas 2.0 as well.
Marie-Claude Lortie declares that chef-owner Fuad Alnirabie offers "un bel hommage à la culture culinaire syrienne" at Damas. Indeed, thanks to starters like a bright, multicoloured fattush; muhammarah, a luscious dip made with roasted red peppers, walnuts, and pomegranate molasses; and tender, grilled octopus. A copious plate of lamb shanks, gently confitted with clarified butter, and served with nut-studded rice pilaf, is comfort food incarnate. For dessert, get the orange blossom baqlawah—a "sublime création," writes Lortie. So will the critic return to Damas? "Oh oui!" That's tantamount to four stars from La Presse.