Movenpick's Iftar Is A Feast Fit For A King
The Movenpick is the only five-star luxury hotel in Beirut to be situated directly on the Mediterranean Sea. A glimpse outside the window from the main lobby on the 8th floor reveals an Olympic-sized pool, a sandy beach dotted with white parasols, and beautiful blue waves lapping against the shore. On the hotel rooftop, which if extrapolated could possibly be on par with the street level, there’s a soothing lounge called Square boasting superb views, shisha and cocktails for those eager to follow the sun’s mystical plunge into the horizon.
Spectacular sights and unrivalled recreation—well what about the food? Last week, we visited Mediterranée for a lavish Iftar buffet like none other I’ve beheld. The sheer variety of dishes, the alluring presentation, the fusion of Occidental and Oriental—“feast” doesn’t begin to capture it.
|Dainty individual-sized mounds of pistachio semolina cake |
crowned with clotted cream, almond halves, and candied rose petals
The first thing your eyes are drawn to is the cheese and cold cuts table. Whether your palate is craving Brie, cheddar, halloumi, Nabulsieh, goat labneh, or double crème, you’ll find it all here. Thickly-shaved bresaola, low-fat beef salami, cooked roti chicken, turkey and much more are complemented by stuffed pimento olives, capers, pickles, and any garnish your mind can conceive. I kept returning to this station unconsciously until Assistant Chef Radwan coaxed me to sample the kitchen’s real culinary prowess.
The entire Lebanese cold mezza can be accounted for, and nearby you can choose between a self-assembly salad bar and prepared salads—my favorite was a red cabbage and green apple number tossed in a cumin-mustard dressing.
|Cold mezza entrees, from mdardara to mhammara|
|Samket tajine, or fish in tahini|
|The perfect hummus|
There are a choice of at least half a dozen mains, and of course, the pièce de résistance: a giant pan of lamb on a bed of rice smothered with sautéed kernels. You could easily get your fill at this hot station, but your eyes will fall upon a kitchen runner clutching a tray of savory pastries and heading out to the terrace.
Follow behind in close pursuit, only to discover a station where kafta, beef, chicken and steak are being grilled, alongside a big vat of oil where falafel submit to a fry-bath. There’s a spit of chicken shawarma being carefully tended to, and adjacent to it, a table of every imaginable vegetable, pickled root and the almighty garlic paste.
|Meat grilling station|
|The essential shawarma garnishes and condiments|
At some point, your belly will be more than satiated. But the vision of those dainty pastries you witnessed on your stairway descent from the lobby to the restaurant keeps flashing through your mind. You insist you’ll only go admire them from a distance—shim w la tdou2—but you know better. The full length of a wall is lined with every Lebanese Ramadan specialty and then some, from mafroukeh bi festo2 to katayef, baklawa, 7alewet el jebn and mhallabieh.
|Shaabiyet, or phyllo dough turnovers stuffed with clotted cream and drenched in syrup|
|Mafroukeh blanketed with clotted cream, almond halves, and pistachios|
Approach closer, for there is also an array of French patisserie—after all, Executive Chef Marc is Belgian and was trained for some time in Paris. The millefeuille conceals fresh forest berries in the crème patissiere sandwiched between the phyllo dough layers: it is out of this world delicious. There’s also a hot crock of molten chocolate cake, and conveniently next to it, six or seven flavors of exquisite ice cream, from citron to caramel.
|Fresh fruit selection|
This is one of those buffets for which you’ll actually be grateful you fasted all day. There’s a plethora of eye candy you won't be able to resist, no matter how strong your resolve. So simply succumb to the bounty of the restaurant and indulge in one of Beirut’s ritzy hotspots. Good thing the corniche is just a step away—you may need to hit it hard afterward!
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