Beyond the Mezza Bar at Studio Beirut

I’m pretty sure I've dined at Studio Beirut close to a dozen times. In fact, since it first debuted in 2013 as Studio 43, I've become a passionate champion of the mezza bar, which boasts an array of at least two dozen cold appetizers like hindbeh, labneh with olives and jalapenos, hummus, moutabbal, mdardra, fried cauliflower with tahini dip, and oodles more. In fact, if you properly indulge in the mezza bar, I guarantee you’ll have room for little else.

If you stick to Studio's mezza bar, you'll miss out on this 
whopping Lebanese home-style burger

So it was high time we strayed from our beaten path and tried something new at Studio. The menu is divided into salads, hot mezza, sandwiches and mains. Between the hours of noon and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, you can opt for one of the best-value meals in Beirut. LBP 22,000 (USD 15) will land you a salad, four mezza items, a plat du jour, dessert, and mineral water. That’s unbeatable around this neck of the woods—heck, a cocktail these days goes for LBP 22,000.

We started with the green salad (10,500 LL), a refreshing medley of rocket leaves, purslane, thyme and French lettuce tossed with a robust lemon-mustard dressing. Four balls of a thick feta blending dried apricot morsels and crushed walnuts adorned the greens. The bold flavors from the mustard and vinegar stirred our appetites, and happily the hot dish arrived within minutes.

A fresh green salad with feta balls

The meat and cherries (19,500 LL) emerge simmering in a cast-iron tray fastened to a wooden serving board. A spin on the traditional Armenian kebab fishna, this number can best be described as ras asfour basking in a tangy sauce with macerated cherries and pine nuts. I’d only wish the portion were a tad larger and accompanied by a ramekin of silky laban, as in the fishna dish. There’s something so compelling about plain yogurt layered atop meat steeped in a sweet sauce. Cool tempers piping hot; acidity subdues sweetness; and velvety contrasts with chewy all in one delicious bite.

Small cubes of beef with cherries and pine nuts in a tangy sauce

For mains, we shared two sandwich platters. The first was “msakhan” chicken (19,500 LL), or tenderized pulled chicken with sautéed onions and pickles wrapped in delicate sajj bread. Garlic and tzatziki are offered as accompaniments, in addition to thick spears of home-style potatoes dusted with oregano.

"Msakhan" chicken wrap with oregano potato spears

Normally, I’d hesitate to order a burger outside of a diner or steakhouse, let alone from a Lebanese restaurant. But I was craving the classic Lebanese burger from my youth, the one prepared at home and piled high with coleslaw and cocktail sauce. I had a good feeling about Studio’s offering, and I wasn't disappointed.

A dense beef patty, noticeably very lean and imperfectly shaped, comes precariously positioned between a bed of sautéed diced tomatoes and onions and a creamy coleslaw topped with ketchup and mustard. This is one messy sandwich, with contents spilling out from every angle and the bun collapsing around the meat. Supreme. Again, I only wish the beef patty were slightly heftier…200g should become a standard for burgers in Lebanon. The traditional 120g - 160g patty just ain't cutting it!

Cross-section of the burger

There’s so much to explore beyond the mezza bar at Studio Beirut. While it certainly figures as one of the restaurant's unique selling points, I feel the menu has a wealth of hidden gems worth discovering and relishing. Stay tuned as I tackle them in future visits.

Follow me on Instagram at @beirutista for more drool-worthy photos!

Rue d'Armenie
Mar Mikhael
01 566 585


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