Showing posts from February, 2014

Secteur 75: A Top-Notch Restaurant Hidden Inside a Pub

There’s a reason they call it “pub food.” It’s your mundane hash of chicken wings, fries, greasy nachos, cheese-flavored poppers, and maybe the odd quesadilla. Pubs aren’t known to entertain a mature menu worthy of a gourmet. Drinks are the real profit centers, with some quick, light snacks merely fuel to keep the drinking cycle in motion. That is definitely not the case at Secteur 75. The old house-turned-resto-pub sitting on a corner street along Rue d’Armenie in Mar Mikhael features very lavish chandeliers and gold-framed paintings to juxtapose paint-chipped walls. The graffiti art in one of the venue’s rooms teeters on avant garde, and the furniture varies markedly from table to table. But perhaps the real showpiece is not the captivating aesthetics of Secteur 75. It’s the food. We came in on Saturday afternoon close to 2pm for the weekly brunch. The regular dining menu—a nice, trim page fastened to a wooden clipboard—is also available, supplementing about a dozen brunch-y d

How Restaurants Violate Us On A Daily Basis

Restaurants in Lebanon are guilty of many misdemeanors, and it’s time someone spoke up. These faux pas have tainted my dining experience on some level, and hard as I try to avoid them, I see them unfolding before me time and time again. How many of the below offenses have you been subject to? 1.        Uncorking a bottle of water at your table and charging you for it without your approval . I’d say fair and square 90% of eateries in Lebanon commit this act on a regular basis. I don’t mind the water if I’m not ordering a soft drink, juice, or other beverage, but dear waiter, just as your title dictates, WAIT for my cue! Often those restaurants excitedly popping off the tops of water bottles charge you exorbitantly for them. In Lebanese mezze venues, water bottles are typically already on the table and hence engraved on the tab even before you saunter in. 2.        Quite possibly more heinous than charging you for an unwelcome bottle of water is charging you for what you assumed

Olivos at the Radisson Blu: Fine Mediterranean Cuisine Where You Least Expect It

Every so often a restaurant comes along that totally knocks you off your feet. I’m not referring merely to good food, but expectations far surpassed. You harbor little or no prospects, and then the restaurant not only pleases but surprises you with its flair. Yesterday was one such rare experience, at Olivos inside the Radisson Blu Martinez hotel in Ain Mreisseh. We arrived at 2.15pm on a Sunday afternoon to a spacious dining salon. The Mediterranean restaurant doubles as an atrium, with rays of sunshine streaking in to the center of the room, and dimmer, tucked-away seating on the fringe. We seated ourselves just as a shy waitress peeked out from the kitchen and hastened to our side. Moments later, a very friendly restaurant manager named Nabil made his way over, welcoming us to Olivos and promising a very pleasant lunch. While we pored over the menu—which features 9 appetizers, 8 mains, 6 pizzas, 4 pastas, and 4 desserts, followed by an Arabic mezze offering—the waitre

Studio 43 in Mar Mikhael: Not To Be Overlooked

Studio 43 ushers in a whole new concept to Lebanese food lovers with its original mezza buffet. Picture this: a trolley of over two dozen cold mezza appetizers that you can gorge on to your heart’s content as many times as you please. We’re talking the entire rustic hodgepodge: hindbeh, mdardra, fattet batenjen, labneh bi zeitoun w jalapeno, karnabit mekleh, bulghur bi banadoura, ma7esheh 2ate3 (including eggplant, zucchini, and grape leaves), hummus, kibbet batata, kibbet la2tine, kibbe 2rass bi 7ar w labneh, and a whole lot more!   The restaurant is perched on high in the popular Cour Saint Michel, which is also home to Sud and Bar Tartine. Mount the Spanish-style stairs and turn either left or right to be greeted by comfortable open-air seating with a view of diners below. Inside, you can opt to sit strategically close to the mezza bar in the nonsmoking section, or on the opposite end, where you have the liberty to puff at an arguileh.  As soon as you even sit, the waite