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 from Makhsoom, and we became the misfortunate targets of a dining-out debacle. Let’s first put things into context. Marc had already twice attempted to redeem the vouchers, but on both occasions restaurant management gave him beef (no pun intended). The first time, he was turned away because the vouchers were not valid for Sunday lunch. On a second visit, he tried to apply three vouchers toward himself and another diner—hoping to rid of them in one blow—but only one voucher could be used per guest.
Dining visit, take 3. We were three souls bearing two Godforsaken coupons. Aiming to take advantage of the happy hour specials between 5 and 8pm, including discounted drinks and appetizers, we were bummed to discover that management would not humor us. Apparently, the vouchers were already a promotion in themselves, and God forbid we enjoy two promotions simultaneously. Well, could we open a second tab, one for consumption using the vouchers, the other for happy hour? Nope. We’d have to finish the meal, settle the tab, and then begin anew.
We were fed up (again, no pun intended) before we had even started, and this was a recipe for disaster. Put off by management’s ruthless approach, we decided to order exactly to the value of the two vouchers, $68 (or 102,000LL). It didn’t fetch much—one Cro burger (28,000LL), one NY sirloin (69,000LL), and one corn on the cob (5,000LL).
Within minutes, a bread basket came round. Five mini-loaves resembling pain au pavot, but not quite. They were not fresh, simply reheated to mask their production date. A small ramequin of what we first thought to be butter accompanied them, but a closer look at its ghastly white hue made us quizzical. Labneh? Cream cheese? Hah—wishful! It was margarine, a cheap butter substitute.

We hailed the waiter and asked for olive oil. He nodded silently and brought us a carafe of some very yellow, watery substance. Olive oil is noted for its viscous nature, and this distinctly wasn’t the right stuff. A whiff, then a taste, confirmed the worst: cooking oil. What on God’s green earth…!

There wasn’t much of a wait before our food emerged, but unfortunately we would fall even further into the abyss of disappointment and disgust. The burger patty was slathered beyond recognition by more of that odious non-butter spread, and it could barely be discerned inside the cumbersome bun. The accompanying fried onion slices were cold, limp and chewy, clearly not prepared à minute. The steak was a sad use of meat: absolutely no seasoning, no marinade, and hence no taste. Again, the same tired onion fritters dotted the plate. The only thing slightly comforting and edible was the corn.

What’s odd is that none of the waiters approached to ask us how our meal was. In almost all restaurants in Lebanon today, managers and waiters circulate among the tables to make sure diners are pleased with the food and service. At one point, the manager passed by our table and nodded as if merely to assert his presence, but he quickly vanished.
We thought about depositing our feedback with a waiter or even in the comment card tucked inside the bill, but the food was miserably beyond repair. In fact, it is unacceptable fare for an upscale restaurant that commands the hefty price tags that Cro does. You’d think, too, that Cro could afford to display some nice linen tablecloths to complement the theme of high-end restaurant, but why let Burger King outdo you? Disposable paper mats will do.
An irredeemable institution. Avoid at all cost.


  1. That's a sorry ass excuse of a restaurant. We attempted to redeem vouchers as well but we were told that we needed to reserve in advance to redeem the vouchers.
    When we accepted to pay regular price, we waited ten minutes for someone to pick up the order but no one came. We swiftly exited and a waiter looked at us inquisitively "if you don't want to take the order, I am sure others around will" was my comment as we walked out

    1. Yeah, there’s something intrinsically wrong with management’s approach to customer service. They just don’t give a d@mn! You did the wisest thing, taking your business elsewhere—they were certainly begging for it


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