Showing posts from June, 2014

Smoking Bun: The Savior Burger in Mar Mikhael

They say the best things in life hit you when you least expect them, and that the best plan is no plan at all. It’s called serendipity. We experienced it last night in the form of a burger. But first let’s rewind. We had booked a casual dinner at Moules et Frites, a small eatery in Sofil that boasts almost exclusively Belgian mussels and fries. One DailyStar reporter had fawned over it , and I’d been hearing warm praise from other sources about just how delicious it was. So at 7.30pm, we found ourselves inside the joint, which more precisely resembles a cafĂ© than it does a restaurant. While the service was friendly and inviting, the food and hygiene fell short. The French bread served was noticeably days old and reheated. Think chewy, not crispy. The mussels were of the frozen sort and weighed in on the small end of the size scale. I’ll concede that the sauce was flavorsome. We tried the “Beyrouth,” a medley of coriander, garlic, and parsley that evokes the taste of mloukhieh. B

My American View of Football/Soccer and the World Cup

Even though I spent the summers of 1998, 2002, and 2006 in Lebanon, I don't recall having watched the World Cup. Given how passionate Lebanese people are about football (I'd say soccer, but the "when in Rome" concept must prevail here), I doubt it was less heavily anticipated and followed then as it is today in 2014. So I'm supposing it was my general ignorance of the sport that led me to cast a blind eye to it all together, and I blame my American upbringing. You see, I grew up on basketball. A native of Southern California and a sister to two active brothers, my allegiance unmistakably rested with the LA Lakers. We used to watch every game with avid interest, tuning in religiously for the Slam Dunk Contest, the Western Conference Finals, then the playoffs and championship if the Lakers had qualified. It helped that the game was so riveting: players running back and forth, rebounding the ball, sinking in three pointers, racking up high scores, fouling and g

A Dedication to the World's Most Giving Father

Father's Day is celebrated today in North America. This dedication is written in that spirit. I don't know anyone who is as blessed as we are--Andre, John Paul and me--for having you constantly present in our lives. You were not like most dads--on the contrary, you never missed a school drop-off or pick-up, a PTA meeting or teacher conference, a piano recital or an award ceremony. You planned everything around us so that we were the main focus. Nothing else ever competed for your attention.  You'd sneak us our favorite cereals and snacks, to Mom's grief, and even recently when I came home to visit, you surprised me with my favorite cake, red velvet, because you knew I'd been craving it. You'd take me grocery shopping with you early in the morning on days off from school, and I loved pacing the aisles with you as we scoured for novel products and debated whether Mom'd approve. She'd come round, you always said with a grin. I'll never fo

Classic Burger Joint: Secrets Revealed!

It’s become the face of the Lebanese-born burger chain serving up delicious flame-grilled burgers and seasoned fries in a small, casual dining space. The iconic pull-up windows, the metallic chairs on the deck, generic yellow and red squirt bottles containing their respective condiments, a plastic bowl in the window filled with green apples. Classic Burger Joint has evolved into a mainstay on the local burger scene, arguably the pioneer of the comeback burger in Lebanon and one of the few to have weathered the ebb and flow of this bunned foodstuff since it first opened its doors in Sodeco in 2010. I’ll be honest. The first time I tried CBJ was in early 2011—my friend, who’d also lived in Southern California, compared it to In-N-Out. If you’re from California, I don’t need to elaborate on what such an analogy would imply. For those unfamiliar with the successful burger chain, let’s just say it’s pretty hot stuff West of the Rockies. So I went with sky-high expectations and rathe

Four Seasons' The Roof: An Escape from Beirut in the Heart of Beirut

You know how rooftops are all the rave in Lebanon. They tend to be the haunts of the see-and-be-seen crowd, the favorite hangouts of the ostentatious who derive pleasure from throwing their greenbacks at rainbow-colored cocktails and avant garde nibbles. I wasn't too keen about such a playground, but two weeks ago found us at the rooftop terrace of the boutique Hotel Albergo. A quiet, understated space with wicker chairs, white pillows, and stunning views of Achrafieh and the vicinity made me reconsider my harsh stance on the rooftop breed. Then I met Four Seasons' The Roof just a few days ago. And I became a staunch believer. The perfect fusion of luxury and comfort are on display at The Roof. You ascend to the 26th floor and amble outside to find yourself surrounded by different seating scenes: bar stools, pillow-festooned sofas, curtain-drawn love pads, lounge chairs for those wanting to take a dip in the pool's placid waters. Glass panels wrap around the roof, but

Cro Restaurant at Zaitunay Bay: Hopelessly Beyond Repair

It’s been sometime now since I’ve emerged from a dining experience feeling utterly repulsed and offended. I mean, it’s not unusual to have a few issues with a restaurant, be it stale bread service, a stingy salad, a charred pizza crust, or perhaps a less-than-inspiring burger patty. But to come across a food outlet that manages to get everything horrifically wrong and then some, well that’s a real rarity. But they do exist. And Cro in Zaitunay Bay is one case in point. To be quite honest, I’ve never been compelled to dine at Cro, originally Cro Magnon Steakhouse, nestled between the Indian cuisine king Moti Mahal and the Belgian waffle joint La Maison de la Gaufre. The restaurant doesn’t draw much of a crowd, perhaps because of its inordinate prices, lack of any clear cuisine type, or dull vibes in general. No surprise that Cro had to totally rebrand from a high-end steak specialty house into a less-stiff yet amorphous restaurant concept. Our friend Marc had purchased vouchers