Broumanna on the Rebound

Broumanna used to be a summer escape buzzing with Lebanese and tourists alike. Home to Mounir and Bourj al Hamam, both of which are renowned in the Arab world for their food and hospitality, Broumanna is decked with open-terrace restaurants offering guests a lovely dining experience under the stars. But the charm of this city, tucked in the mountains above Beirut, seems to have lost its luster over the years, and that is seen in the sheer volumes of outlets that have opened their doors only to close them in just a matter of months.

Broumanna's restaurant row, where Crepaway has long stood, is electric once more with a new resto-pub called Brew-moon, Copas Mexican cantine, the age-old Manhattan, and since last summer, Chase Terrace. We are huge fans of Chase's outlet in Kaslik, thanks to its lovely salad bar and plats du jour. But this Chase features only an a la carte menu, so it was with hesitation that we stepped inside, Friday evening, and requested a table on the terrace, under the starlit night sky. We glanced over to our neighbor's table, spotted a massive crab salad and knew we had to have it. We also split a deboned, grilled half chicken that was served with generous portions of grilled potato, carrots, zucchini, cauliflower, broccoli, and tomato. The chicken was lightly charred to a perfect tenderness, and the vegetables retained their flavor and firmness even after their brush with the grill. The salad was impeccable: crab sticks were creatively blended with thin soya noodles and shredded carrots, tossed in a light sesame dressing and decorated with ripe avocado slices and shrimp. The two plates were more than plenty for two people, and the price/quality rapport (about 50,000LL for the food) was excellent (for Lebanon).

The manager kept circulating throughout the dining floor, greeting guests and making sure their experience was pleasant. I peered over to another neighbor's table, spotting a large bowl piled high with ice, as well as a plate with small toasted canapes. I leafed through the menu, trying to discern what they were having, and it wasn't until on our way out that I confirmed it was caviar--an unlisted plate! Looks like this restaurant takes customers' special requests very seriously.


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