Showing posts from May, 2013

Curious Sightings Around Town

1. Tannourine can't decide on whether they prefer 8-mm or 12-mm caps on their 500-mL water bottles. The difference is palpable: 50% more height gives you more grip and thus makes the twist on/off process so much easier. At first, I thought the high-tops were the newer batches, but a quick check of production dates stamped on the bottles proves they're still producing the midget-tops, too. Is this a gimmick by Tannourine to see whether consumers notice and dial in with their impassioned feedback? I wonder if their executive management knows that even one added centimeter of height can translate into tens of thousands of extra dollars annually in material costs. 2. Yesterday morning on my way to work, I spotted this funny character pushing his kaak trolley across the Tabaris highway. All decked out in a red costume befitting a zaffé troupe, together with a matching red tarboush, the kaak man was perspiring fiercely as he parked his cart on the side of the road. I wonder if

Succumbing to Roadster's Low-Cal Burger

For as long as I can remember, I've dismissed Roadster as uninventive. Clichéd. Predictable. Consistent, sure, but bland. Roadster has a very big, very loyal following in Lebanon, and I just couldn't swallow the hype. Nachos, chicken tenders, burgers, sandwiches, and platters. Yes, they've got a comprehensive menu for a diner. Yes, they're superfluously friendly, borderline obsequious, when it comes to customer service. But based on a few dining experiences I've had at their various outlets--opting mainly for the lighter selection of fare even before there was a health-conscious menu--I formed a rather apathetic attitude toward the chain, whose prices I found a tad mature for a diner. Nothing swayed me, until, in a wild fit for a simple, unadorned all-American burger, I was coaxed into sampling Roadster's. Roadster offers three diet-friendly burgers: the Ever Slim, Fit n' Burger, and Grain Chicken Burger. The first is your classic, garnished with lettuc

(No) Developments with My Liban Post Fiasco

I'm not sure who tipped Liban Post about my rant--who knew how difficult it could be to mail a package of Lebanese sweets to The Hague?--but last week Customer Care left a comment on the blog post, apologizing for my poor experience and requesting my phone number. The very next day, a lovely representative contacted me, asking me to recount the entire ordeal in detail so that she might perhaps provide further assistance or clarification. But matters only grew more complicated, as she revealed the fine print on sending "parcels." In the event that a parcel is not successfully delivered to the recipient, it will be seized by the Dutch courier and sent back to the original sender. How gracious, I thought, until the customer service agent informed me that I'd be accountable for the return expenses incurred. What ? I stammered. Si, si , she responded. Hadn't I carefully read the French-scripted receipt upon which I'd scrawled my John Hancock? I didn't recal

Shawarma Show: The Bourgeoisie of Shawarma

Warning : the following is NOT a hyped review of a glamorized shawarma chain featuring mediocre fast food fare (read: Shawarmanji). The following is an honest account of the no-nonsense, heavy-on-meat-and-not-on-pickled-or-fried-rubbish wraps that can be had at Shawarma Show. The single location restaurant sits on the Jdeideh highway, just before Bank of Beirut and across from Almaza brewery. Shawarma Show is not your typical, greasy, sidewalk shawarma joint. The restaurant is a two-storey establishment outfitted with wooden bar stools on the ground floor and proper tables and chairs on the upper floor. There are even separate (and sanitary) restrooms for men and women! The first thing you notice when you enter Shawarma Show is a glass enclosure behind which are five spits of charcoal-grilled shawarma and three shawarmiers , as we'll call them. You don't interact directly with them, as they cannot really hear you behind the thick glass panel, which no doubt is meant to sh

Liban Post Shows Its True Colors

A few weeks ago, I commended Liban Post for their speedy parcel services, particularly to international destinations. I'd mailed a letter to Geneva, Switzerland, and it arrived within three business days. Last Saturday I went back to Liban Post, this time with a small package in tote destined for the Netherlands. The main branch of Liban Post on Riad el Solh is grand--the space is huge, almost like a central train station, and there is a long counter staffed by six or seven agents prepared to serve you. You take a ticket as you enter the post office, and you wait for the automated voice to direct you to a cashier. As there were just a few customers besides me, I was immediately summoned to cashier #3, manned by a no-nonsense woman named Hala. Hala took the package from me--a box of Easter maamoul pastries for a dear friend living abroad--and started grilling me with questions: package contents, sender ID, recipient name and phone number, and so on. We didn't make it past

Paname More Than Pleases

Paname has quickly become my favorite French bistro. After one dinner with a group of friends a few days before the new year, I beheld and sampled the quality, freshness, and tastiness of a variety of French dishes: filet de boeuf, steak tartare, coq a l'orange, pavé de saumon, and a few others. Portions were generous; prices, fair; ambiance, cozy but not stifling; service, smooth; and satisfaction, undeniable. Instant rapture led me to explore Paname further on its Facebook page, where I discovered the restaurant offered a daily plat du jour and delivered to the downtown area. I ordered the chicken roulade--rolls of chicken breast stuffed with spinach and ricotta, simmered in Brie sauce, and accompanied by potato wedges and sauteed vegetables. A fancy, gourmet meal arrived 20 minutes later in a fancy paper bag complete with tweed handles. My taste buds were tantalized. A few weeks later, I ordered the boeuf bourgignon, a dish I'd never seen anywhere outside of France. While