The Best Value Friday Date Night in Beirut

Sometimes I hesitate to disclose my favorite restaurants or new discoveries for fear I’ll come back to a full house and be turned away. Worse, I worry that the management will become so haughty with the influx of customers that it'll lose its tight hold over excellence. Do you ever feel like that? That you have to guard your gems closely so that they retain their luster and exclusivity?

I suppose by now it’s no secret how much I cherish Le Gray. Situated in the heart of the Beirut Central District, on prime real estate opposite Annahar, the five-star property is luxurious, hip, and artsy. Where other high-end hotels suffer from the aforementioned condition, distinctly doling out self-importance and attracting the like-minded, Le Gray is at once casual and classy, comfortable and refined, accessible and select.

My first experience at Le Gray was precisely three years ago, at a Sunday Mother’s Day luncheon hosted at Indigo on the Roof. I remember the service being impeccable; the atmosphere, inviting; and the cuisine, delicious, though not faultless. We came back occasionally to Gordon’s Café, the trottoir eatery with a front-row view of tourists and area employees grazing by.


Indigo's Chicken and Wild Mushrooms with butter-like herb gnocchi and crisp asparagus

A freelance assignment in the summer of 2014 landed me face to face with one of Beirut’s most skilled mixologists, Natasha Abou Moghli, who has since become a good friend of mine. That summer, I frequented Cherry on the Rooftop for Natasha’s signature cocktails and sangria.

In the fall of 2015, Le Gray on-boarded executive chef Darren Andow to take the helm of Indigo, and quite honestly that was the wisest move they could have ever exacted. The newly-revamped Sunday brunch we gorged on in December was an exquisite affair that featured never-before-seen delicacies in Lebanon like the Beef Wellington. A full-service cocktail trolley manned by bartender Rudy was a brilliant touch (try his exceptional Passion Fruit Martini), and we left giddy with stomachs more than sated and spirits in euphoria.


A refreshing passion fruit martini


The most recent development has been Indigo’s so-called “Melodious Nights” hosted Fridays and Saturdays and boasting a live violinist to entertain diners as they nibble and swoon. The a la carte menu, too, has undergone a total facelift, paying homage to Gillardeau oysters, scallops, lobster, duck, escargots, veal, and Wagyu beef. I’ve never beheld a food roster so rich and varying, with a marked emphasis on premium sourced ingredients.


Seafood platter: oysters, mussels, shrimp, and marinated calamari

Salmon Tiradito: coriander, avocado, onion salsa and yellow pepper sauce

Grilled calamari

Grilled asparagus salad with poached egg, shaved Parmesan and Parma ham


Blame the sweet tooth in me, but far and away, the desserts really take home the cake (pun intended). The inspiring new items are unrivalled, namely a zesty Lemongrass Crème Brûlée paired with silky coconut ice cream, in addition to a sumptuous Pain Perdu that evokes a homemade sticky bun with caramel, walnut and apple fixtures.


Pain perdu with caramel, apple, and walnut


Can I squeeze in a word about the decadent Valrhona Chocolate Fondant, which has an ethereally thin shell of crumb caving in to molten cocoa lava? The accompanying bourbon vanilla ice cream is absolutely essential to temper that cloying sweetness.


Valrhona Chocolate Fondant


For those preferring the citrus savor, the Classic Lemon Tart paired with orange mascarpone is anything but classic. It is unorthodox. It is tangy. It is sublime.


A deconstructed lemon tart


The night doesn’t end there. After dinner, guests are invited to ascend the stairs leading to the disc-shaped lounge Bar 360, which offers panoramic views of downtown Beirut. The theme is ‘80s night, and the tempo is upbeat, not quite conducive to conversation making. But after all that glorious food, who’s in the mood to chatter?


Bar 360: Friday and Saturday feature '80s Night


I really can’t think of a more opulent evening in Beirut, and the pleasant surprise is how reasonable the prices are given the superior nature of the experience.

So there you have it: a feast fit for the regal; doting and knowledgeable service; the ultimate venue; and excellent price to quality rapport. How’s that for the many pleasurable shades of Le Gray?


Le Gray
Indigo on the Roof
01-972 000

Comments

  1. Thank you Dani, now I know just the place to have my Birthday dinner!! I will even go with all your recommendations.

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