Mar Mikhael's Transformed Secteur Totally Outdoes Itself
I was a little puzzled when one of the partners and founders behind Secteur 75 told me that the pub was due for a major facelift. One of Mar Mikhael’s trailblazing pubs with deliciously addictive cocktails and first-rate food, Secteur 75 had quirky décor animating each room in its house-like layout—even the restroom was a mandatory visit for its interesting basin and contraptions.
Secteur 75 shut down during the stretch of the second half of 2014 and re-launched a week before Christmas, nixing the digits from its name to don it a statelier aura. The good news is that that stateliness is more than fully realized between its renovated walls.
The gastropub—and trust me, Secteur figures in that rare breed of refined food meets pub—has a canopied entrance that evokes New York’s Park Avenue. Push open the door, ascend the crimson carpeted steps and alight to a landing that leads you to a shimmering bar. Your jaw will drop once you behold the ceiling-high shelves neatly housing the hundreds of bottles of spirits, and how about those eclectic lamps suspended from above and lighting up the gold and brass space?
Honestly, it looks like a scene out of a movie. If I had to describe the bar in one word, it’d be “polished.”
The break-out rooms each have a theme of their own and lend a bit of intimacy to those wishing to nibble and chat. We sat in the candle chamber: picture an amorphous-shaped oak-wood table with a centerpiece of dark purple candles ablaze over a mound of wax. The table is surrounded by a dozen plush high chairs. There are two cocktail tables in the corner of the room ideal for couples or small groups. On the wall is a painting of a porcelain urn with an LED-lit maid dynamically dusting it from lip to base. It is uncanny and avant garde.
I could literally speak volumes about the architecture of Secteur, but the gourmand in me is dying to express her perspective on the more edible features of the venue. The fare was concocted by acclaimed British Chef Ed Dutton of London’s Pieds Nus, and his elite touch is unmistakable.
On the menu:
The Mushroom & Truffle Croquette (30,000 LL) blends mushroom tempura, sweet garlic purée, and real truffle shavings on five dainty globes. Ethereal.
|Mushroom & Truffle Croquette|
The Shrimp Popcorn (27,000 LL) is a welcome spin on the tired calamari fritters appetizer we see everywhere in Beirut. Jalapeno and carrot shavings serve as garnish, and wasabi mayo cools your palate.
Had I known that this was Veal Eel Tartar (32,000 LL) before sinking my teeth into it, I may have cowered out of consuming the seas’ ugliest creature. I’m glad no one clued me in, because this entrée was one of my favorites. A delicate blend of savory marinated veal and smoked eel sits in the valley of a butter lettuce leaf and is topped with battered poached quail eggs.
|Veal Eel Tartar|
Here is another exotic dish: Curried Frog Legs (28,000 LL) hidden inside a seasoned tempura shell, drizzled with parsley pesto and resting on a bed of sweet aioli. It could easily be Secteur’s signature entrée.
|Curried Frog Legs|
The Fresh Salmon Tartar (30,000 LL) features finely minced fresh salmon interspersed with puréed cauliflower and coriander pesto. You probably want to horde the portion all to yourself—it is divine.
Ever seen tortellini in salad form? Secteur tosses its fresh spinach-ricotta version (24,000 LL) in tomatoes, olives, eggplant, and mustard sauce to render one delectable chilled dish.
The Marinated Chicken Wrap (28,000 LL) is a reinvented fajita wrap with mild Indian spices and English Cheddar, no doubt Chef Dutton’s influence. It is classic comfort food at its finest.
|Marinated Chicken Wrap|
For those who crave simpler, unadorned fare, the Veal Tenderloin (39,000 LL) is a perfect 150 grams of grilled beef, complemented by mashed potato, steamed spinach and a red wine sauce.
|The veal is so juicy and flavorful that the red wine sauce is an afterthought|
The three desserts on the menu (15,000 LL each) are equally tremendous. The Bitter Chocolate Tart resembles a sundae strewn across a plate: crust-free, rich dark chocolate oozes silkily beneath a scoop of Guinness beer and is decorated with crushed macadamia nuts.
|Bitter Chocolate Tart|
The trio Doughnuts pipe crème patissiere in the center void and are topped with a fresh raspberry and its coulis.
The Apple Tatin stars a crunchy millefeuille base crowned with cinnamon-rubbed baked apples and a dollop of vanilla ice cream. It is supreme.
What to wash it all down with? There are 20 inspiring Signature Cocktails you could easily lose yourself in—and no wonder: they were invented by the Purl London’s acclaimed 26-year-old mixologist Ross Nolan. I recommend starting with the Aperol Shakerato (22,000 LL) muddling aperol, a splash of Lanson champagne, and pink grapefruit juice. It is one deliriously sensational cocktail.
|Aperol Shakerato cocktail|
Prepare to be spoiled at Secteur. Everything about it, from the food to the fixtures and the liquid potions, whispers mature and sophisticated, so be sure you bring your A-game.
01-575 675, 70-422 444