It has been 12 years since Poissonnerie & Restaurant Rayan opened its first location in Rosemount. There are now four locations and counting: 4528 rue Belanger in Rosemount, 6080 Côte-des-Neiges, 2020 Lanthier in Ottawa and the first franchise at 8090 Langelier in St. Leonard.
Poissonnerie & Restaurant Rayan offers casual dining with a Middle Eastern feeling. Nothing here is pre-made. The concept is quite unique. Upon your arrival, customers head directly to one of the chefs and choose from the wide selection of fresh fish and shellfish lining the bar. The service is prompt and convivial. It is quite novel to go to the seafood bar to handpick your dinner.
A wide selection of shrimps, calamari, whole fish or shellfish are offered by the kilo, and you only need to decide how you would like them prepared: grilled, sautéed, or fried. There are several gourmet sauces to choose from, as well as traditional ones like tahini and baba ghanoush.
I recently went by for lunch with two friends at the Côte des Neiges location. We were greeted by Imad Soliman, a 22 year old university student. His dad Khaled is the main owner of the growing group of restaurants. Imad is a personable young man who has grown up in the business. He introduced us to Mohammed, another one of the owners who provided us with an overview of the plentiful array of fresh fish available. One of my friends chose the Dorade, a small fish with tender white flesh, shimmering silver skin and, when grilled or braised, a rich, succulent, meaty flavor, similar to that of pompano or red snapper. The other opted for some sea bass while I asked for some jumbo shrimps, a few broiled and garlic sauce and the others barbequed.
We headed to our table and the server brought us a basket of delicious and red hot homemade style pita bread with margarine and some tahini. Two of us started off with the house specialty fish soup, piping hot and containing a nice mixture of seafood and leeks. We did not leave a spot of liquid in our bowls, it was that good!
Next came a nice garden salad we all shared, which had a unique and sweet tangy flavour. The fish arrived and both portions were moist, juicy and perfectly seasoned. Imad sent over a platter of fried calamari and basa with some dipping sauces. We loved every morsel of this treat, crunchy on the outside yet easy to cut and chew.
As for side dishes, we were treated to plates of crispy Al Rayan special fries and yellow rice.
On future visits I will be sure to try the grilled octopus, mussels of the day, steamed lobster and perhaps the salmon or tilapia. If you want to make a pick up order you can call ahead or drop in to take something to cook at home. They have an excellent selection of basa, my personal favourite fish.
Khaled was born in Egypt and came to Montreal more than 20 years ago via Kuwait, where he was working in the restaurant business. He immediately found work as a chef here before creating Poissonnerie & Restaurant Rayan. The original Rosemount location only has seating for 12 and is more popular for takeout orders. Langelier and Ottawa can seat 80. The 120 seat Côte des Neiges locale, for instance, is usually full on weekends and some weeknights so reservations are recommended
“We are very happy with how business is going,” said Khaled. “The first franchise in St. Léonard is doing well so we will watch closely about considering more opportunities like this.
For more information log on to http://restaurantrayan.com . Opening hours are 10 am to 10:30 pm Monday to Saturdays and Noon to 10:30 pm on Sundays. For evenings, particularly weekends, make sure to call ahead.
(Photos by Glenn J. Nashen)