‘Taste of the Mediterranean’
Serving homemade farm to table Mediterranean delights from Greece, Lebanon, Armenia, Italy and France, the Kasbah Mediterranean Qsine brings authentic flavours and an incredibly diverse menu sure to please every hungry traveler visiting Niagara’s tourist district.
Inspired by his upbringing and travels as well as extensive and diverse culinary background, owner and head chef Vaughn Bulganian has crafted a vast and flavour filled menu designed to celebrate unique Mediterranean food.
Born in historical Armenia, Bulganian was raised in a monastery in Jerusalem; it was there where he was taught the true art of Middle Eastern cooking and real Mediterranean food. To this day, Bulganian says he will not waver from how he was trained.
“If you are going to say it is Middle Eastern or Mediterranean and serve it to customers, you better make sure it is only made the authentic way,” said Bulganian.
After immigrating to Canada and being in the restaurant industry for over 25 years – he has spent time in kitchens in Montreal including Ida’s Falafels, the Double V. Middle Eastern Kitchen and the Sunset Restaurant – Bulganian branched out on his own and opened Vaughan’s International Cuisine on St. Paul St. in St. Catharines in 2000 which focused on Middle Eastern food.
Following a few successful years in St. Catharines, Bulganian decided it was time for Niagara Falls to experience true Mediterranean cuisine. He relocated to Dunn street in Niagara Falls in 2013, renovating the expansive restaurant which today features over six thousand square feet of dining area including: a 100 seat formal dining room, a casual 60 seat bar and lounge, a 40 seat plant trimmed patio and a private 30 seat broad room ideal for intimate weddings, family gatherings, bus tours and corporate events.
The menu options are endless for the adventurous: the vegetarian Armenia Zahtar pizza spiced with thyme and oregano, Greek hot mezes plates and marinated bacon wrapped scallops decorate the extensive appetizer menu. The dinner entrées are just as culturally diverse, placing Mediterranean staples and long loved classics at the forefront including: mussel, tiger shrimp and baby clam fettuccine, specially spiced shish koftee skewers, vegan sarma and eggplant casserole, souvlaki, gyro and shawarma option plates and so many more.
The side dish options are also endless: Greek, Caesar, garden or tabbouleh salads, house made soups which revolve daily, French fries, rice pilaf, Greek potatoes and more to complement the extensive entrées.
For those who simply cannot decide, the Kasbah also offers combination plates which allow patrons to start with a selection of cold and hot appetizers, including: hummus, Baba ghanoush, garlic pudding, tzatziki, sarma, spanakopita and falafel, followed by your choice of salad (garden, Greek, Caesar, or tabbouleh), and choice of entrée: chicken and beef souvlaki or chicken and beef shawarma. Both entrées are served with rice pilaf, and lemon or garlic potatoes. And if that was not enough, the menu concludes with a choice of baklava, rice pudding or ice cream for dessert.
But the plain-Jane stomach must not back away; the Kasbah also offers a Canadian style menu as well, featuring chicken strips, classic personal pizzas, jumbo chicken wings and bun and cheeseburgers – for kids and those who cannot be tempted by the middle eastern spiced Zahtar or Lahmajoun sandwich, vegetarian falafel burger or spiced Greek style burger patty.
“We found that people were always asking for different things and we were not getting the full business by focusing in on one [cuisine],” says Sharon Redding, Vaughn’s wife.
“So we decided to do the full Mediterranean menu; we wanted to be diverse in that regard.”
“So now we do Italian; we have food from Lebanon and Greece and a Canadian style menu as well,” said Redding. “We can provide for every group with this kind of menu. Our homemade gnocchi is so good.”
Every menu item, sauce, pasta, dip, dressing and component in-between is also made 100 percent in house and crafted from locally sourced ingredients; with Redding reminding customers that sauces are made at time of order, so entrées may take a little longer to arrive at the table, but are well worth the wait.
“We don’t open a jar and pour it in,” said Redding. “The prep work is amazing – it takes longer to prep than anything else.”
“We were tired of going to restaurants that were pre-processed; if people had allergies they couldn’t eat there because it was already pre-made and you couldn’t make changes to it,” said Redding. “Vaughn – being from Armenia – everything is made from scratch. So he wanted to bring those flavours here and we couldn’t find a restaurant that brought those Mediterranean flavours.”
Alongside the extensive menu, the restaurant is also able to work with every dietary concern, allergy or food aversion posed against them; offering vegetarian and vegan options and, in a rarity, a thoroughly Celiac friendly establishment — with a special portion of their kitchen dedicated to cooking for those with gluten allergies, to ensure no cross contamination takes place.
“We have a huge kitchen which allows us to have separate cooking stations [for Celiac] orders,” said Redding. “We have separate toasters, we have separate grills – so they won’t cross contaminate. Our servers have a full list of what is gluten, what has dairy in it, so they can advise people what they can and cannot eat.”
The Kasbah: What’s Next
Later in the year, the Kasbah will also be introducing Mezza Time, their twist on a Tapas menu, in hopes that locals will use this opportunity to visit the restaurant and try a wide variety of menu items that they would generally shy away from.
“It’s not just Middle Eastern food,” said Redding. “We really offer something for everyone. But the tapas menu will be perfect because if they are afraid, they can come and try a little bit of everything.”
The Kasbah also hosts a variety of daily features that showcase a different style of their cooking with a dedicated menu. Travel from Armenia on Monday to Greece on Wednesday, and return for the Kasbah’s regionally famous Fish Fry night on Friday; allowing diners to experience a taste of each culinary destination each day of the week with a set menu at a very reasonable price.
To learn about their daily plates, consider visiting the Kasbah website.