Situated on West Broadway & Maple Street you’ll find Kitsilano’s Maple Grill, “The West Coast Kosher Kitchen”. Even though Maple Grill is one of the only fully certified kosher restaurants in Kitsilano, don’t expect to find only traditional Jewish cuisine. Maple Grill provides a kosher dining experience with a twist–kosher food meets a fusion of modern cuisine. So alongside traditional dishes like matzo ball soup, you’ll also find contemporary favorites like burgers & fries, spaghetti bolognese, and baked salmon entrees.
Since we live only a few blocks away, we’ve always walked/driven past and told ourselves we should check out the restaurant. It’s taken us a while, but we finally managed to dine at Maple Grill for lunch yesterday. Upon entering, our server greeted us at the door and sat us promptly at a cozy table. We noticed that Maple Grill has a comfortable dining space with well spread-out tables, and an upscale decor with dark walls, colourful paintings and funky chandeliers.
Iced Tea/Pop ($2.50) – Bonus: Soft drinks come with complimentary refills. And yes, alcoholic beverages are served at Maple Grill, but for a drink to be kosher it cannot have any artificial flavours. Therefore, they don’t offer the standard flavoured spirits found at the liquor store, but they have infused their own liquor with natural flavours, like both of their Earl Grey and Real Fruit martinis. Maple Grill only serves Mevushal Kosher wines. What is that you ask? Kosher wine that has been opened, handled, or poured by non-Jewish people is no longer kosher. However, if the wine is heated to near boiling, it becomes “mevushal” and the restrictions disappear. Maple Grill offers this type of wine so that their non-Jewish servers can pour wine too.
The Moroccan Burger ($12.25) – Their signature 5 ounce beef patty, grilled with Maple Chipotle BBQ sauce, topped with crispy onions, vine tomatoes, crisp lettuce and smokey chipotle mayonnaise on a toasted bun. Looks can be deceiving in the photo; the patty was actually quite large and extra thick! A really generous portion of beef that was equally tasty and satisfying. Both of our meals were served with perfectly deep-fried French fries, coated in a very light batter, making them extra crispy.
Shawarma ($11.99) – Maple Grill’s twist on the traditional shawarma with Israeli salad (fresh cucumber, tomato, onion, bell pepper), hummus, tahini, romaine lettuce leaves, wrapped in warm whole grain pita bread. Also served with French fries, kosher ketchup and hot sauce on the side. The menu did not mention that this dish was served with any type of meat. Shawarma I’ve eaten in the Middle East (Jordan, Oman, Egypt, and places in the U.A.E. such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi, etc.) contained either lamb, goat, chicken, and occasionally beef. I haven’t been to Israel, (although I was a couple feet away from the country on its border, the Jordan River), so perhaps ordering “shawarma” in Israel automatically implies chicken is included? Anyway, deliciously seasoned grilled chicken breast slices were included in this tasty and healthy shawarma at Maple Grill. They certainly do not skimp on meat at this restaurant. And while I enjoyed the addition of fresh sprouts in this pita wrap, I would have adored more hummus.
A note to seafood fans: Salmon, tuna, and sable fish are on the menu, but you will not find any shellfish. Jewish law only allows consumption of fish with gills, scales and five fins (I was not aware of this). I’m more familiar with halal foods, through my travels and having lived in a Muslim country for two years, than kosher ones. Although both very detailed religious dietary laws haves differences, they do share certain similarities such as both refrain from consuming pork. One kosher rule that I was aware of is that it’s not permissible to not combine dairy and meat in the same meal. To prevent this from happening, Maple Grill keeps a completely dairy-free kitchen. That’s right, you won’t find even a drop of dairy in the entire restaurant. Also helpful to those with dairy allergies and lactose intolerance.
Tiramisu ($10.25) – Beautifully presented in a dark chocolate box and topped with fresh mint. This tiramisu contained a special soy whipped cream, imported all the way from Europe. Unlike comparable non-dairy whipped creams, this one did not have that distinctively oily aftertaste. Instead, this slightly sweet soy whip was rich, smooth and creamy – much like real whip cream.
Overall, we really enjoyed our dining experience at Maple Grill: The food included fresh ingredients and generous portions, service was excellent and the decor was lovely. FYI: Maple Grill is closed on Fridays. Complimentary parking is provided for customers at the rear of the restaurant (alley access is off West Broadway). Also, Maple Grill is currently offering a Dinner for Two special until the end of January. For $50 you’ll receive a 3 course meal for two: The special includes your choice of one appetizer to share (or soup or salad each), followed by your choice of main course each and a dessert to share. What a great deal – we’ll certainly return for dinner!