The Best-Value Brunch in Beirut
Last weekend, I was introduced to the relatively new concept of brunch at Casper and Gambini’s Verdun. If you’ve dined at C&G, you know what their brand is about: healthy, delicious food ranging from soups, salads and sandwiches to more sophisticated platters and wood-fired oven-baked pizzas. Tea, coffee, blends, and alcohol also figure considerably into C&G’s offerings (there’s a two-page spread in the menu dedicated to beverages alone). Based on price of fare and choice of branch locations, I’d say the target clientele are casual-chic yuppies.
|Cinnamon-raisin brioche with dense vanilla icing|
Back to brunch—the Verdun outlet nestled on the ground floor of Dunes Mall is spacious with both indoor and terrace seating. The brunch is set up as a buffet, with a vast range of local Levantine cheeses like halloumi, Nabulsi, Akkawi, kashkawan, and goat labneh balls in olive oil. There’s an assortment of delicatessen meats like turkey, ham, and salami; two savory vegetarian quiches; granola and yogurt; jams and peanut butter; C&G’s signature breadsticks, zaatar crackers, and bread rolls; croissants and raisin rolls; a variety of loaf cakes; an iced cinnamon-raisin brioche bundt; a fresh fruit salad; and a selection of dried figs, apricots and plums.
|One of three tables housing the lavish brunch bar|
|Loaf cakes: mandarin, double chocolate, and hazelnut chocolate chip|
Now, on to the hot dishes. (You thought I was done, didn't you? I’m just getting started!)
There are two live cooking stations, one dedicated to à la minute omelets with all the fixings: mushrooms, bell peppers in olive oil, and a grated cheese mix. There’s also a crepe maker with toppings such as jams, Nutella, strawberry halves and crushed hazelnuts for those craving a sweet fix.
|Egg-white omelet folded over a grated three-cheese mix and seasoned mushrooms|
Pancakes lightly dusted with confectioners’ sugar are served alongside maple syrup. If you’re a traditional Lebanese and demand foul and balila every Sunday mornings, you’ll find those here, too, with a medley of fresh herbs and spices to season the stews to your palate. Try too the freshly-baked zaatar, cheese, and kishek manakish pies emerging piping hot from the kitchen oven.
|Pancakes dusted with powdered sugar|
For thirst-quenchers, you can opt for fresh juice—apple, orange, or carrot—in addition to coffee, tea, and water to wash it all down.
The cherry on top has got to be the price. At a mere LBP 28,500 (USD 19), this is easily the best-value brunch in Beirut.
Given the superior quality and freshness of the ingredients used, the breadth of the lavish feast, as well as the constant replenishment of depleted dishes, the brunch affair at Casper & Gambini’s Verdun gets my emphatic stamp of approval. Check it out Sundays from 9:30 AM to 1:00 PM, and make it a weekly ritual!