L’Os Chews Its Customers to the Bone

A few nights ago, we visited a restaurant we’d long been fixed on trying. L’Os (French for bone), on the way up toward Ain Saadé and no more than a kilometer from my house, is a cozy yet spacious restaurant perched on a hill with a majestic roundabout for an entrance. Inside, you’re immediately greeted by an olive tree in the center of the restaurant and a lit chimney just steps from it. Tables line the perimeter of the restaurant, in the style of a diwan, and you feel as if you’re dining at a mountain lodge.
We settled in and opened the menu to find a page (two in fact—one in French, the other in Arabic) recounting the history of L’Os with photos of the founding partners—a sweet albeit sappy ode to the restaurant’s roots. The food offerings span two pages: on the left, the French classics; on the right, Lebanese mezza. At the top of each page, in imposing print, L’Os’ “traditionnelle baguette à l’ail” (garlic bread) was highlighted, so we took the hint and ordered one with coriander (10,500LL). A few other necessities like the rocca and zaatar salad (10,000LL), grilled cheese rolls (4 for 6,500LL), and hommos with finely diced beef (13,000LL) rounded up the first half of our meal. 
The waiter brought around the conventional pita triangles as well as an assortment of pickled vegetables and olives. Nice touch, we thought, as we started pecking at these amuse-bouches. A few minutes later, the garlic bread arrived: French bread cut lengthwise, filled with heaps of garlic cream (the kind you find at HAWA Chicken), then pressed Panini-style and served piping hot. Tasty, yes, but not worth the bordered dedication in the menu, nor does it justify its price tag. Veritably, the so-called garlic bread (nowhere even remotely reminiscent of Italian-American garlic bread) should be offered complimentary as the house welcome starter. The fresh arugula and zaatar, decorated with onions and sumac and tossed in a light lemon vinaigrette, are good, as was the hommos, but neither is noteworthy. The cheese fingers are small, slim and stingy on the dairy derivative.
Phase II: we opted for the arayess kafta (16,500LL) and beef brochettes (18,000LL). Both plates come bare, served absent of any sides, so you will have to order your own. The arayess feature ground mincemeat with a parsley-and-onion mix sandwiched between two thick and crunchy triangles of Arabic bread. Delicious yet erring on the side of oily. The beef brochettes are tender but unmistakably under-marinated.
The bill reinforced the general theme of L’Os: a bastion of hidden charges. Rather dishonorably, the restaurant charged us for the pickles (3,750LL). In almost all Lebanese restaurants, these come standard with your fare. The rocca and zaatar, too, had been resolved into two separate dishes, each commanding 6,000LL for a total of 12,000LL, when on the menu it was noted at 10,000LL.
When we’d first beheld the menu, and still naively giddy at having discovered such a pleasant eatery so close to home, we vowed to return at least a second time to sample the French fare. To be sure, the restaurant ambiance is convivial: all around us, groups of friends sat chatting and eating merrily. The service, too, is attentive but not to the point of suffocation--the waiters will not push you to feed and bounce, and the restaurant owner himself circulates amidst the tables, making sure guests are happy.  

But after receiving the tab and mentally wrestling with the restaurant's deceptive approach, our enthusiasm dampened, and coming back is no longer such a palatable idea. I’m almost certain the steak-frites will emerge without the customary fries and special sauce—those will be suggested (and billed) extras. How about some house bread to sop up the inexistent sauce? Nope. Just a slab of unseasoned meat. And probably a bone for garnish. Wait. That makes sense. No wonder it’s called L’Os.  


  1. Wow. Had no clue this place was still open. I remember going there as a teenager when it first opened.

    1. Indeed it is! It's probably of the same generation as La Gargote/Le Gargotier.

  2. Ekh that feels like a horrible food experience.


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