review

'My Tannour': Sacred Fire

© Saskia Vanderstichele
Onze score

Cooking is the cornerstone of food preparation. Syrian-inspired fast food joint My Tannour provides burning evidence of this: the shawarma reaches new heights!

Palaeontologists date the first fireplaces back to 500,000 years ago. In other words, fire is a loyal companion to humankind. According to a recent hypothesis, cooking would have aided encephalisation. Cooking meat doesn’t alter how it is digested by an organism in any way. It does, however, make the nutrients in plants more accessible. By cooking vegetables and roots, our ancestors would have enabled their brains to absorb molecules that were important for their development better and more easily.

Clearly, humanity owes a lot to cooking. Not ungrateful, the former repays the favour. In Elsene/Ixelles, Georges Baghdi Sar, an Armenian-Lebanese chef who made his name with the restaurants C’chicounou and L’Oriento, celebrates flames with a snack bar situated in a former Portuguese bakery. It’s a place caught between two fires. At the entrance is the “tannour”, a type of bread oven popular in the Middle East. At the back of the restaurant, there’s another oven, this one devoted to smoking and slow-cooking meat. And at the centre is a menu of very high-quality fast food.

You can enjoy it as a “main course” or as a “shawarma” with different ingredients wrapped in the bread. For €5, we opted for the second version, with smoked chicken in spices. A real treat. What’s impressive, above all, is the quality of the unleavened bread. The dough is soft, thick, and aromatic, perfectly complimenting the accompanying vegetables: cabbage, tomato, red onion, parsley, cucumber, and carrot.

The sauce (we chose one with sesame) completes this harmony of flavours, bringing it all together. Be sure to add extras (€0.40) – the artichoke hearts and the feta are good – and to order sides (€4 or €5), the smoked potatoes with spices, and the grilled corn, in particular.

And for a total change of scene, we recommend the Tsipouro (€12.50), a grape spirit that will transport you straight to the shores of the Mediterranean. The rather crude wood and concrete decor matches the approach wonderfully, as does the service, which is extremely friendly.

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