A Luxurious Sunday Lunch at Le Gray's Indigo

Sundays are sacred. They were made for family gatherings, sprawling tables of good food, and chill-out vibes. Home embodies this trifecta, but what about those days you crave checking your coat at the door and enjoying the ultimate pampering?

Le Gray’s newly-launched Sunday brunch is in fact a lavish culinary affair that gets everything right, starting with the cocktail trolley featuring made-to-order pick-me-ups. At 82,500 LL (USD 55), it’s admittedly a splurge.

Mixologist Rudy with a trolley of beverages

Martini Prosecco with fruity add-in syrups like peach and berries

We sat opposite the glass-paneled kitchen with a front-row seat to the cooking marathon. Chefs prepare hot dishes à la minute while also tending to the extensive buffet of sushi, salad items, and hallmarks of the Lebanese cold mezza. 

There are oysters on ice, maki rolls, and endearing goblets of fresh crab or boiled shrimp on beds of avocado mousse. 

Shucked oysters on ice


There is also baba ghannouj, muhammara, fattoush, tabbouleh and stuffed vine leaves, each presented ceremoniously on a chalkboard.

Muhammara

Assemble your own salad from fresh mini mozzarella balls and homemade pesto, or select one of the kitchen’s prepared numbers, like the roasted chicken and grilled pineapple combo. The cheeseboards are sleek, boasting six unique varieties accompanied by a description and country of origin. Charcuterie can also be had, from bresaola and salami to turkey bologna. 

One of two cheeseboards

A second cheeseboard with charcuterie in the background

A tomato and rosemary focaccia ornaments the bread counter, though it could benefit from a bit of moisture (cue the olive oil).

Tomato and rosemary focaccia

The hot dish offering is a compromise between brunch and lunch aficionados—after all, the restaurant receives guests from 12:30 to 4 p.m., which more aptly fits the lunch slot. You can have your choice of eggs in one of the traditional forms—Benedict, Florentine, Royale, Omelet, or Free-Range—but why would you when there’s a masterful new executive chef at the helm of an inspiring slate of plates?

Darren Andow hails from the UK but has worked extensively in the Gulf, first in Abu Dhabi at Yas Island Rotana and Centro Yas; then in Dubai, at the Amwaj Rotana; a stint in China at the Langham Palace Hotel; and then back to Bahrain at the ART Rotana. More than two decades into his career, he landed to Beirut just last month and is already breathing new life into Le Gray’s culinary repertoire.

Scanning the main courses, my eyes landed on the “Individual Angus Beef Wellington.” The decision was clear. British chef? Check. Never before tasted dish? Check. Strength of appetite? Double check. I’d watched Gordon Ramsay craft a Beef Wellington before on Food Network, but I’d had never tasted the renowned dish. Stuffed with mushrooms and homemade paté and delicately bound in a puff pastry, it sounded scrumptious. And in fact it was.

Individual Beef Wellington


Dessert has always been a forte of the Le Gray kitchen, and the selection on display could tempt the fussiest of palates. Apart from a live crèpe station, diners can gorge to their heart’s content on baked cheesecake; Lebanese osmallieh; tiramisu; French macarons; individual savarins; choux à la crème; and a white chocolate passion fruit concoction in plastic martini glasses. Fruit salad also figures in the array for those tending to their waistlines.


Baked cheesecake

Osmallieh squares

Savarins

Choux à la crème

Chocolate tartlets with fruit salad cups in the background

About half way through our meal, the ambient music was turned up a tad too loud, drowning out our table conversation. Background tunes are generally favorable, but to me Sunday lunch calls for a relaxed, soothing setting, especially when at a five-star property.

I’m not sure if the lunch formula at $55 encapsulates the cocktail trolley, as we were guests of the hotel’s hospitality. The menu states that “soft drinks, juices, water and taxes are included” but makes no reference to the specialty Prosecco drinks we sipped on. 

In all cases, this is one of Beirut’s high-end affairs and may more accurately be tagged as “lunch” not “brunch.” There’s no way you’ll crave even a nibble come dinnertime.


Cake

Caramel mousse cake

Duo chocolate mousse cake

Indigo on the Roof, Le Gray
01-972000

Comments

  1. Thank you for your column. I will definitely go and splurge at Le Gray this holiday season.
    I, too, don’t like it when my conversation gets drowned out by loud background music on a Sunday.
    According to numerous studies into the effects of background music on restaurant sales, gross sales from both food and drink were significantly higher with slow music than fast music. Furthermore, since Le Gray is above average priced, it probably appeals to a demographic of mostly middle aged people in the upper-middle income bracket — all the more reason for keeping the music down.
    Back in the days, when I served at a 5-star restaurant, only one person could touch the volume knob. That person knew his customers and his music and the business.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Samir, you're absolutely right! Diners are more likely to take their time and prolong the experience if conditions are hospitable, soft music being one of them. And indeed, the clientele is of a more affluent, seasoned background--I can't imagine they would enjoy high-dB tunes.
      Anyway, I've been assured by hotel management that the music will be turned down. Let me know what you think when you get the chance to go try it out!

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