Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Diwan's Patio at the Aga Khan Museum

Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Fumihiko Maki, the Aga Khan Museum at Don Mills is dedicated to the collection, research, preservation and display of works of art, objects and artifacts from various periods and geographic areas of the Muslim world. Opened in September 2014, the Museum's mission is to provide visitors with an understanding of the artistic, intellectual, scientific and religious heritage of communities, both Muslim and non-Muslim.

The McEwan Group, which manages four critically-acclaimed restaurants (North 44, Bymark, ONE, and Fabbrica) and two gourmet grocery stores, oversees the menu at Diwan, the restaurant at Aga Khan Museum (Twitter: @AgaKhanMuseum, Facebook: Aga Khan Museum). At Diwan, chef Mark McEwan offers a wide-ranging menu that showcases his innovative approaches to Middle Eastern, North African, and South Asian cuisine. 

Diwan is participating in the upcoming Summerlicious from July 8-24. For those who are interested, feel free to click here for their Summerlicious lunch menu.

I was invited by Aga Khan Museum to dine one the Diwan patio a few weeks ago. Diwan’s patio has the capacity to accommodate 140 people with comfortable lounge seating and a view of the Aga Khan Park. New this summer on the Diwan's fully licensed patio is an added an outdoor grill, and a new summer menu featuring a variety of grilled meats, salads and a number of lighter entrees for summer, focusing on fresh and aromatic foods that explore the tastes of the Middle East.


Basturma, kalbas, labneh, olives, pickles, hummus, and naan
A generous mezes platter of Middle Eastern and South Asian delights. My favourites here are the hummus, labneh, and basturma (cured beef slices). Naturally, I was very happy to see all that naan on the platter!

Shawarma-style chicken, shirazi salsa, iceberg lettuce, and garlic sauce
This is an innovative twist on the traditional taco with shawarma-style chicken and shirazi salsa garnish. The paratha flatbread, used here like a tortilla, is a type of Indian bread. It is much thinner than naan and has a slightly puffed up, layered texture. I really enjoyed it. Everything about this taco - the juicy chicken, tangy salsa, creamy garlic sauce, and the herbs and spices - was delightful. Don't be fooled; even though it's a "taco" it's one very big "taco". It certainly filled me up!


Whipped feta, caramelized onion aioli, cucumber pickle, heirloom tomato, and lolla rossa

This lamb burger was my favourite thing at Diwan. I've had some pretty bad lamb burgers before - ones that were jam-packed with herbs, spices and condiments that they resembled lamb meatloaf sandwiches more than lamb burgers. This lamb burger at Diwan was not dense or pressed like that; it had a nice, pink, juicy, tender core, and very flavourful.

Twice-cooked Turkish coffee, pre-sugared with a pinch of cardamom
Coffee brewed with cardamom, cinnamon, clove, ginger, nutmeg, and black better

After our coffee, we were given a short tour of the museum. But first, let's take a look at the Diwan dining room. 

Diwan’s elegant interior - complete with floor-to-ceiling windows - features 19th-century wooden panels hand-carved and painted in Damascus.

Guests at Diwan can experience a spectacular view of the Aga Khan Park, a stunning 17-acre serene central space of reflecting pools and wide gravel pathways with narrow treed alleyways at its sides, which connects the Museum to the Ismaili Centre. One of only six of its kind in the world, the Centre is for social and cultural gatherings, intellectual engagement and for spiritual reflection. Its crystalline frosted glass dome roof, which marks the highest point of the 6.8-hectare site, is mirrored in the five granite-lined pools of the formal gardens in the Aga Khan Park. Stunning, isn't it?

In designing the Aga Khan Museum, Fumihiko Maki, winner of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, used light as his inspiration. In this open-roofed, glass-enclosed courtyard, glass walls are printed with an ornamental pattern drawn from an eight-pointed star – based on mashrabiya, the patterned wooden screens used to modulate the sun in many Middle Eastern buildings. The courtyard, too, is a common device of that region’s architecture.

At certain times in the day, the ornamental patterns from the glass courtyard is even reflected onto the walls inside the Museum.

The Museum, which measures 81 metres long and 54 metres wide, contains an impressive variety of spaces, including two exhibition galleries, areas for art conservation and storage, a 350-seat theatre, and two classrooms. All these spaces, including Diwan, are spectacular venues for private parties, events, seminars, dinners, and receptions.

One of the spaces I fell in love with was The Bellerive Room, which is where the Museum commemorates the late Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan's passion for collecting. The room is a recreation of the Prince’s salon in Geneva and it showcases his collection of hand-painted ceramics that are hundreds of years old. 

It's so beautiful in here. I instantly fell in love with its glass cases, Persian carpets, and comfortable chairs.

Thank you, Aga Khan Museum, for inviting me to Diwan. I look forward to visiting again soon!

For more information on Diwan's patio and hours, please click here.

*This meal was complimentary. The opinions and views expressed on this post are my own*

Diwan Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato