MERCHANT OF COOL: Fig Mediterranean Deli

Yasser Youssef shows of his delicious food at his growing business on Cedar Hill X Road

  • Sep. 23, 2014 6:00 p.m.

Despite the steady stream of customers stopping in for a late lunch, or to pick up the makings of a delicious dinner, Yasser Youssef, owner of Fig Mediterranean Deli, assures me this isn’t busy.

In fact, it’s mid-afternoon on a Friday, the lunch rush officially over, but I suspect it’s never really quiet here…there’s just too many delicious offerings for that.

After 12 years on Quadra Street, near Borden, Fig recently moved to the significantly larger space on Cedar Hill X Road (formerly Brannigan’s restaurant).

For his many regulars – Yousseff pauses often to warmly greet customers by name – the expanded offerings are most welcome.

Part specialty grocery store, part café, part deli, Fig offers a vast selection of Mediterranean foods, olive bar, coffee counter and an array of foods prepared on-site in the full kitchen – perfect to take home, or enjoy at one of the tables inside or on the patio. “The whole idea was really to expand what we had,” says Yousseff.

In addition to more traditional pizzas cooked in the stone oven, there’s Zatar, a pizza-like dish from Lebanon, Greek specialties like moussaka and souvlaki, and specialty feta cheeses. One is aged for two months in an oak barrel. “It’s very flavourful,” Yousseff says.

Fig’s staff are eager to answer questions or pass along suggestions. The delicious feta and red pepper spread, which I eagerly sample with warmed pita, is also perfect stuffed in a chicken breast or topping grilled zucchini, I learn.

In addition to chicken, lamb and beef dishes, a variety of vegetarian options are also available, including the crispy-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside falafel, on its own or in a pita topped with fresh tzatziki. On the side, there’s tabouli, fattoush or Greek salads, or lightly flavoured lemon potatoes. And the dolmades? Both the beef and vegetarian versions are simply yummy.

“The response has been very positive,” Yousseff says. “You can’t just go to the grocery store and find pomegranate paste or preserved lemons.”

Those with a sweet tooth fill find plenty to please as well, including Turkish Delight, fig and walnut cake, and a variety of other baked goods.

As I finish my lunch another customer advises me to return for coffee and a piece of the fig cheese cake – yet another not-to-be-missed treat.

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