Showing posts from April, 2014

Keeping Up With Zaitunay Bay

A stroll along the Zaitunay Bay boardwalk last night confirmed how markedly the facade of restaurants and outlets has morphed since its opening over two years ago. The upscale Italian eatery Signor Sassi has followed the path of its ex-neighbor Amarrès and closed. Zabad and Salmontini were two other fine dining institutions that once were and are no longer. In fact, it seems Salmontini’s original location in Sofil has also shuttered. What has opened? Last year, Pomodoro Pizzeria, part of the Boubess Group , as well as [GRID] Le Resto, a so-called urban café owned by Beirut Hospitality Company , began operations. Maison de la Gaufre is another relatively new outlet, housed next to CRO, which was rebranded from CRO MAGNON Steakhouse & Bar. Gaufre is a take-away shop serving Belgian waffles. A convenience store by the name of C.Bliss has also popped up, selling magazines, snacks, and bottled drinks. Next to Classic Burger Joint, wall posters prominently display Starbucks and

What's On My Plate? My Favorite Meal Deals in Town

When friends and acquaintances learn I’m savvy on the restaurant scene in Lebanon, they tend to ask for my recommendations. Now that’s no easy task, because the options in Beirut are endless, and the types of cuisine available are just as expansive. Now I readily confess I’m no frequent diner at the posh hotspots. And I definitely reject the hype of the newbies in town—rarely do they impress or bring something fresh and innovative to the table. But I do adore a good-value meal for my money. And since those experiences tend to be very few and far between, I naturally cling to them like a dog on a bone. Here are my latest food fetishes: 1.        Shtrumpf, Le Mall Dbayeh (salad bar and more) Many years ago, I visited the standalone Shtrumpf outlet in Dbayeh (next to Chopsticks) and wasn’t too windswept with their salad bar. A round little kiosk, it was very much challenged on ingredients, variety, and aesthetic appeal. Recently, I was introduced to the location at Le Mall Dbayeh

Bar Tartine Ups The Bar For Restaurants Near and Far

Bar Tartine in Mar Mikhael’s popular foodie lair La Cour Saint Michel has been around for a year now. The adjacent Tartine Bakery produces fresh bread and pastries for guests to buy on the go as well as for those dining in the restaurant. Two weeks ago, Bar Tartine (brought to us by the same folks behind Zaatar W Zeit) launched its second outlet in ABC Achrafieh on the ground level (L0) next to Mall Square, Vero Moda, and Jack Jones. The space is, believe it or not, ideal for a resto-café. There is a fenced-in island where guests can sit in the mall atrium, in addition to seating inside the restaurant proper, where the bar and kitchen bustle with activity. The ambiance is relaxed—neither chatty nor lonesome—and the service is impeccable, with wait staff at your beck and call, hovering without being doting. We were invited for dinner there last night, and having never had the chance to sample the original Bar Tartine, our anticipation was through the roof. By the end of the eveni

When do we make the transition from child to adult?

Ever wonder when it is we make the transition from free-spirited youth to responsible adult? My entire life I've been hearing "you're still too young," or "you've got the whole world in front of you," or, my personal favorite, "wait till you grow up." In grade school, teachers beleaguer us with boring anecdotes from their own childhoods (i.e., "when I was your age..."). In college, we pretend to be mature and self-assured, but in retrospect, we all know that no 19- or 20-year-old truly is. Even as a young professional, when you think that your youth has faded away with your newfound non-student status, your boss perpetually reminds you of how much time it will take before you become a meaningful fixture at the company.  So when do we cease to be kids, sloughing off our carefree, sometimes devilish play in return for the jaded, hardened attitude rife in adults? I'm in my 20s, but I still feel like a child on the inside: energeti

The New Face and Tastes of La Parrilla Restaurant

Change can be risky. Especially when it defies the age-old adage: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” I never knew La Parrilla in its heyday. An Argentinean steakhouse tucked along narrow Mar Maroun Street parallel to Gemmayze’s Gouraud, La Parrilla was renowned for its churrasco -style grills. Since it opened in 2007, it attracted Lebanon’s seasoned carnivores and gourmands, and for good reason. The meat was flown in from Argentina; the décor was wooden and cozy, evocative of a ranch in Latin America; and the live music every evening was animated by tango melodies. Seven years later, La Parrilla has undergone a transformation, a notable one to boot. The overhaul has spared no detail—everything, from décor, to music, to menu, to lighting, to cutlery and even the plates have been redesigned, redefined, and totally spun on their heads. I had the rare privilege of being invited to the launch of the new La Parrilla a few days ago over lunch. Mireille Hayek, the entrepreneur and resta