Montreal's senior monthly since 1986

Feb '10

Columns

Daou family serves up Lebanese cuisine with flair

My companion and I drove to Ville Saint-Laurent for a late afternoon lunch at Daou and found an oasis of calm. Upon entering, we were greeted by Gladys, one of four co-owners of this family establishment.

She led us into the dining area, a spacious room flooded amply by daylight thanks to large windows topped with draped valences. Smartly appointed tables, covered in green and cream tablecloths, were set with fine china sporting D for Daou. The cushiony upholstered chairs signalled the Daou family’s aim to ensure patrons the utmost comfort. Artistic photographs of Beirut, nature and an Egyptian goddess graced the room, whose ceiling bore a wooden trellis, reminiscent of a garden patio. Soft music of Middle Eastern strings allowed easy conversation.

Daou offers an equal opportunity menu: there’s no need for a magnifying glass to read the English explanation of classic Lebanese dishes. For the modest budget, three-quarter of the dishes listed come in half orders; for the smaller appetite, there’s a pita sandwich or ½ plate of salads; and for the vegetarian, there’s a large selection of salads and cooked dishes such as Foule médamas (fava beans) at $7.50 or Falafel (fried balls of crushed beans and chick peas), half order at $5.50 or full order at $7.95.

The menu features grilled meats and fish, and the restaurant is completely licensed, offering aperitifs, spirits and liqueurs, or beers from $5.25 to $7.25.

As we perused the menu, our waiter, Bassam, brought us a little dish of pickled turnips of a lovely deep pink colour and green olives with a basket of fresh soft pita bread on the house. According to Bassam, Daou is a good place to work. He feels like he’s part of the family, having served at their restaurants for 16 years.

Under Gladys’ guidance, we were treated to plentiful half-orders of cool and warm appetizers:

Fatouche is a mixed vegetable salad of diced tomatoes, lettuce and parsley, onions, lemon and oil, at $7.50. Chopped parsley is visible and texturally integral to the salad. A chopped baked pita, the Middle Eastern version of the French crouton, provides added crunch to the fresh crispy vegetables, lightly tossed with oil and lemon. “It’s like spring in your mouth,” my companion said. Bassam explained that all the ingredients are freshly sliced and chopped for each new order.

Hommos-Tahineh, a chick pea dip with sesame juice, garlic and lemon, at $5.75, was the silkiest I had ever tasted.

Rakakat are slim hot cheese rolls, crispy on the outside with lovely smooth but not too salty fetah cheese on the inside, at $7.95. Scrumptious!

Yabrak are warm little fingers of rolled vine leaves, at $6.75, stuffed with rice and beef. The vine leaves have a nice tart and spinach-y taste, but it’s the mix of textures, the smooth lemony vine leaf joined to minced meat that makes this appetizer so delightful.

For the main course, Bassam brought out the “pièce de resistance”, the Grilled Chicken Breast with generously cut fries at $13.95 for the half-plate, or $20.95 for the full plate, garnished with a special mayonnaise of garlic, lemon and oil. Grilled to perfection and seasoned with a touch of oregano, the breast was succulent and plump. Not a morsel was left.

To end the feast, we treated ourselves to Katayef, a fluffy crepe stuffed with whipped ricotta cheese and crushed pistachio in syrup perfumed with rose water at $4.75. All desserts are reasonably priced, so leave room.

Gladys told us that since 1975, they have served loyal customers at their older establishment at 519 Faillon East (near Berri). After opening in Ville Saint-Laurent 14 years ago, they now have weekly returnees to 2373 Marcel Laurin. “When the family was in Lebanon,” she said, “they had cooked, but just at home. They decided to open a restaurant when they came to Montreal.”

The Daou family continues to grace Montreal’s culinary landscape with Lebanese fine cuisine. My companion decided she would bring her whole family to Daou next time. I suggest you do the same.

2373 Marcel-Laurin, Ville Saint-Laurent.

Info: 514-334-1199

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Grandparents and special needs kids

Grandparents want the best for everyone in their family, but especially their grandkids. Abby Kleinberg-Bassel is a Special Needs Consultant who welcomes questions from concerned grandparents, whose grandkids are displaying developmental problems.

“Usually grandparents have heard about me from other people who know about my work,” she says. “They're referred by their doctor, or friends, or they're just taking a stab in the dark. They call me and say, ‘I have a grandchild and I'm concerned because…’ and they might name Global Developmental Delay, Down's Syndrome, Autism, Pervasive Developmental Disorder, or Asperger's Syndrome,” Kleinberg-Bassel explains. “The bottom line is they are worried.”

Grandparents call because they see that something is wrong and their own children (the parents of the child) do not want to or cannot deal with the problem. Either the parents are unaware that anything is amiss or are unable to face the idea that something might be wrong. Sometimes, to Abby’s dismay, the grandparent informs her that the child’s paediatrician has advised the parents to ‘wait and see, maybe they’ll grow out of it. For her, precious time for early intervention is being lost.

“They want to know how to help without being intrusive,” she says. “I ask if they've told their children that they're contacting me, because there is the important issue of confidentiality. If the parents haven’t been told, I may advise the grandparents, but it does have to be the parent who contacts me to provide services for the child. I ask them if there has been a diagnosis of the child and then we talk about the services I can provide.”

Therapeutic services range from assessment, diagnosis and treatment in the areas of Speech, Occupational, and Physiotherapy, to Psychological services for assessment, behavioural programs, or one-on-one educators.

Kleinberg-Bassel provides support for the family and helps them obtain the government services they are entitled to. “When grandparents want to help, they need to know how to help,” she says. “For instance, if the child’s parents are willing, grandparents can come to the meetings and observe the sessions. They can choose to participate monetarily or by providing emotional support, or can give the parents a break, because they know how to be effective with the child when the parent is not around. Equally important is the ability to form a bond with the child, so there is the possibility of a positive interaction between the grandparent and the grandchild.”

She suggests grandparents

  • Be proactive by helping children find appropriate resources.
  • Be supportive because worrying and meddling will only increase the stress for the family.
  • Encourage rather than criticize, being forewarned that suggestions can be perceived as criticisms.
  • Be sensitive to the mood, the situation, the setting and the problems.
  • Let your children know that you are there for them.

Abby Kleinberg-Bassel has worked with young children with Special Needs and their families for 38 years. She says the earlier the child receives necessary help, the greater the results. “Research has shown that Intensive Early Intervention is critical in order to ensure making gains in the child’s development,” she says. The reality is that the earlier a problem is identified, the sooner appropriate services can be put into place to ensure your grandchild makes progress. The public system can assess the child, but the waiting period can be excessive — from six months to three years. If they do not want to wait so long, they can obtain private assessments and services for their grandchild.”

Abby Kleinberg-Bassel can be contacted at 514-313-2010 or 514-748-2193.

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