Studio 43 in Mar Mikhael: Not To Be Overlooked

Studio 43 ushers in a whole new concept to Lebanese food lovers with its original mezza buffet. Picture this: a trolley of over two dozen cold mezza appetizers that you can gorge on to your heart’s content as many times as you please. We’re talking the entire rustic hodgepodge: hindbeh, mdardra, fattet batenjen, labneh bi zeitoun w jalapeno, karnabit mekleh, bulghur bi banadoura, ma7esheh 2ate3 (including eggplant, zucchini, and grape leaves), hummus, kibbet batata, kibbet la2tine, kibbe 2rass bi 7ar w labneh, and a whole lot more!
 

The restaurant is perched on high in the popular Cour Saint Michel, which is also home to Sud and Bar Tartine. Mount the Spanish-style stairs and turn either left or right to be greeted by comfortable open-air seating with a view of diners below. Inside, you can opt to sit strategically close to the mezza bar in the nonsmoking section, or on the opposite end, where you have the liberty to puff at an arguileh. 

As soon as you even sit, the waiter will bring you a glass cup filled with lemony salted carrot fingers and a small saucer of roasted peanuts. Order a mezza buffet to split with your dining companion for a meager 28,000LL. You’ll be served a generous basket of piping hot bread, including mini olive pitas and crisp toasted wheat and white Arabic bread. If you’re craving a couple hot dishes, the menu features a handsome selection of rkekat jebneh bi zaatar, the Armenian manti, several varieties of fatteh, and grilled meats.
I highly recommend the bayd bi halloum (11,500LL), which can be more aptly described as a light halloumi quiche. The chef whisks eggs with small morsels of cheese; pours the concoction onto a thin, round dough; and pops it in the wood-fired oven to bake. The result is a golden pie with a paper-thin crust and a soft, fluffy, cheese-dotted topping. If you’re fancying dessert, try the mhalabieh cake (9,500LL), an exquisite marriage between French and Lebanese pastries starring a chewy macaron sandwich loaded with orange-blossom-flavored custard and crushed pistachios.

The venue itself is extremely relaxed and pleasant, with a glass-paneled interior that gives the illusion you’re seated outdoors. Service and staff, too, are cheerily attentive (ask for Hanaa). Studio 43’s got it all, and I can’t recommend it enough.

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