Four Seasons Beirut Kicks It Up A Notch With New Sunday Lunch
Leave it to the creatives at Four Seasons Beirut to constantly outdo themselves. It’s like every time I pop in at the five-star hotel overlooking Zaitunay Bay, I’m awestruck by the caliber of culinary genius, savvy service, and all-around pleasant ambiance. The wait staff really give it that edge, elevating it from faultless to magical (shout-out to Hussein Harfouch, master maître of the lobby).
I could wax poetic for hours about Four Seasons Beirut, but this tribute is reserved for the new Sunday lunch available at The Grill Room on the second floor from 1 to 4 pm. Priced at USD 68 (LBP 102,000), I’d wager to say it is worth every penny and quite verily a bargain for what you’re getting. If you can will yourself to fast 24 hours pre-feast, you’ll be a happier lad for it. Because trust me, post-feast, you’ll easily go another 24 hours without craving a single morsel.
Where do I start? How about the neat bread display as you emerge from the elevator? House-baked into every shape, consistency, and crust, be they individual rolls or braided baguettes, the collection is accompanied by ramekins of premium butter (I’d venture to say Échiré) and square saucers in which to pour olive oil. Every detail has been carefully thought out.
|Fresh-baked bread in-house|
Saunter past the loaves to the cold appetizers. Perfectly portioned salads in jars that you throttle before diving into. Trays of smoked everything, from salmon to swordfish. Prawn cocktail with smoked paprika. Terrine de foie gras with fig confit. Cooked and smoked charcuterie. Burrata (and not merely mozzarella di bufala) with heirloom tomatoes and a drizzle of homemade pesto.
|Cold appetizers, including salads in jars|
A platter of fresh-baked savory Lebanese pastries, from aromatic spiced meat pies (lahm baajin) to spinach turnovers and pizzettes. Donut-sized bagels hanging on miniature nightstands. A mezza corner boasting hummus, baba ghannouj, tabbouleh, fattouch, labneh and muhammara.
|Lebanese savory pastries|
If you don’t play your cards correctly, you could easily fill up your paunch at this station.
Because what awaits you next is the real allure in this whole operation.
To the right of the cold bar, a door leading to the kitchen is propped open, inviting you in. Make your way to the throbbing heart of the restaurant, and prepare to be blown away.
A duo soup bar on your left – we had a rich onion soup as well as celeriac – and just across from it two long shelves of hot dishes. Oriental canon like moughrabieh, lamb on rice, and samkeh harra (spicy grouper fish in tahini) perch side by side with more Occidental specialties like roasted leg of lamb, truffle potato purée, beef stew, paella, lamb chops, and lasagna Bolognese. There’s this beautifully fragrant chicken cashew concoction with hints of banana and coconut in a verdant sauce. Inch a meter forward to a carving station spotlighting 12-hour-cooked prime rib.
|The hot foods|
|Prime rib carving station|
Dizzying, right? We’re not even half way through the tour yet. Farther up, there’s a counter blanketed in raw vegetables, from white asparagus to yellow beetroot and purple tomatoes. There’s even a few prepared salads like seared tuna and Greek.
At this point, my knees were shaking in disbelief. But our gracious hosts grinned at us widely and led us yet deeper into the kitchen, where a seafood bar beckons the strong of stomach. Oysters galore, sushi, sashimi, boiled prawns and langoustines – essentially the finest fruits from the sea – are waiting to be reeled in. Next to them, jars of salmon tartare layer the diced raw fish with silky avocado mousse.
|The raw bar, including oysters, sushi, sashimi, and salmon tartare|
If you thought it ended here, fat chance. Across from the fish exhibit, two legs of dry-cured ham, one hailing from Spain (jamón) and the other from Italy (prosciutto San Daniele) are propped behind an array of garnishes like honey mustard, giant capers, and gherkins.
|Spanish and Italian cured hams|
At the very end of the corridor, Issam mans the oven, churning out the Lebanese pastries seen on display in the dining room.
|Pizzaiolo Issam works the oven effortlessly|
And beside him, a kid’s corner caches mini burgers, potato wedges, penne arrabiata, and chicken nuggets. If I weren’t so conscious of the kids staring me down, I would have piled my plate high with those nostalgic pleasures.
After unpinning myself from the kitchen, I made my way out to the bar, where sweet things awaited. This affair is really a lesson in pacing oneself, otherwise take my word for it, you will NEVER make it to this final multi-course section. And surely you knew it would be multi-course. It wouldn’t be Four Seasons Beirut if it weren’t.
But more accurately, it wouldn’t be Executive Pastry Chef Mohammad Abbas if there weren’t an entire counter of exquisite saccharin structures. Here goes: éclairs dunked in milk chocolate with almond slivers and clouds of crème chantilly topped with candied orange strips; serpentine Paris brest; three-tiered chocolate mousse; spherical Mont Blancs with raspberry coulis; lemon and blueberry domes with meringue puffs; and, my absolute favorite, Chef Abbas’ rendition of the Snickers bar with hazelnut and peanut. How about coffee-kissed chocolate squares or Bounty-inspired balls on a stick? So delectably irreverent.
|The dessert display by Executive Pastry Chef Mohammad Abbas|
|Even more dessert!|
I couldn’t even crawl to the ice cream bar featuring six hand-crafted savors including pistachio-packed ashta, mango, lime, and strawberry. Adjacent to it, a six-tiered chocolate fountain to go over popularly with the young’uns.
|Hand-crafted ice cream|
Finally, as if to placate the hardcore French palates, there’s an extensive selection of European cheeses, from Auricchio provolone and Grana Padana Parmigiano to l’Exquis goat cheese and Vento d’Estate vaccino.
|Selection of European cheeses|
Okay, I think I’ve just about covered the chow. How’s your hunger level? Beyond stuffed?
What I genuinely want to emphasize is that the experience doesn’t really come together without the interplay of the Four Seasons staff, who are constantly shuttling your dish(es) back to the table while you continue to explore other options. They make recommendations, too, underscoring their knowledgeability of every article in the food spread. It’s like each table has its own personal butler to ensure the adventure goes down without a hitch. And indeed it does.
Bravo, Four Seasons Beirut and The Grill Room. You’ve knocked it far out of the ballpark.
Sunday lunch (1-4 pm) includes water, coffee, and soft drinks. It is priced at USD 68, but for kids aged 5-12, it is half price, and for kids under 5, it is free.
Four Seasons Beirut
The Grill Room
+961 1 761 000