The Backyard Hazmieh's Hidden Rooftop
Apart from Broumana, Hazmieh has quickly become our haunt for dining and reclining on breezy summer nights. Its Backyard is host to over a dozen food and beverage concepts, and with places as varied as Tsunami, Classic Burger Joint and Abdel Wahab all under one imaginary tarp, there’s something for everybody.
But few take notice that stretching across the entire southern wing of the outdoor complex, above Les Malins and Dip ‘n Dip to the very tip of the peninsula at Lina’s, is a beautiful rooftop terrace dubbed Kitchen Yard.
A tucked-away elevator between CBJ and Dip ‘n Dip takes you to the venue threshold. Walk in and behold loft-style seating against a white landscape with an open kitchen and bar on the far right. Descend the stairs on the left to the mezzanine and terrace, where a winding dining space terminates in an open-air bar.
Soft music – I love the covers on playback – seems to emanate from the shrubbery, and as the sun sets, you know only a pick-me-up can make the scene any more idyllic.
I tried Le Lemon Fizz (17,000 LL), a saccharin blend of gin, lime, thyme, passion fruit, and soda. Blueberry Mint Lemonade (18,000 LL) muddles lemon, blueberry, agave syrup, rosewater, mint and soda. Both cocktails are liberal on the booze and sugar, so take caution!
|Le Lemon Fizz with gin (foreground) and Whisky Sour (background)|
Appetites whetted, it was time to sate the paunch. We started with Chili Hummus (7,000 LL), a mélange of cooked chickpea purée and tahini topped with radishes, paprika and toasted pita squares. The grissini-like breadsticks Kitchen Yard puts out have the requisite firmness to scoop this thick vegan-friendly paste!
Now here’s where things got really interesting, borderline wild. Wonton triangular pouches come stuffed with halloumi and basil pesto, paired with a small salad of halved cherry tomatoes (12,500 LL).
|Halloumi-pesto wontons with tomato salsa|
Marinated shrimp and avocado are garnished with cilantro, tossed with roasted sesame seeds and dressed with a fiery hot chili dressing (Shrimp Jap, 19,000 LL).
|Spicy Shrimp Jap salad (I cringe when I see that ethnic slur "Jap" being thrown around, |
though I know it is without any mal-intention)
The pizza dough is paper-thin and crispy, which will go over well with fans of cracker-type flatbread. The Pesto Goat Cheese (21,000 LL) is an aromatic pie wafting with the basil-garlic spread and chockfull of sun-dried tomatoes, Grana Padano, wild rocket leaves, and a drizzle of olive oil. It’s tasty but admittedly dry.
|Pesto goat cheese pizza|
Where the pizza falls short in the juicy department, the Spinach & Artichoke Dip (15,000 LL) makes up for it in a piping-hot mixture heavy on the namesake veggies with a blanket of molten Parmesan. Tortilla chips are the vehicles transporting that goodness to your boca in one swift motion.
I’ve never had a burrito in Lebanon, so when I beheld it under the sandwich section of the menu, it was a no-brainer. A duo of griddle-kissed soft tortilla rounds are loaded with grilled marinated strips of beef and bell peppers and slathered with mashed avocado (19,500 LL). Melted cheddar enrobes the wrap exterior, though I’m not sure “burrito” is an accurate description for this TexMex rendition (I couldn’t see or taste any beans!). Think fajita wraps accompanied by pico de gallo and unusually sweet sour cream (possibly unsweetened whip cream?).
|"Burritos" with wedges|
Where in Lebanon can you have a grilled salmon filet alongside Lebanese mezza staples like "batata harra" (spicy potato cubes) and "hindbeh" (chicory)? Nice job, Kitchen Yard – brownie points for achieving fusion and healthfulness in one go (33,000 LL)!
|Pavé de saumon|
Dessert at this point was mere gluttony, but we were riveted. Red Velvet Cheesecake (14,000 LL) boasts alternating layers of strawberry financier crumb and white chocolate compote, crowned with red currant raspberry coulis, fresh strawberries, and whipped cream. Seriously decadent.The verdict on Kitchen Yard – the brainchild of the folks behind Lime Tree – is clear: delicious creative cuisine; reasonable prices; smart service; and the ultimate perch over Hazmieh's Backyard.
|Red velvet cheesecake|