Showing posts from January, 2016

My Favorite Quick Eats in Beirut This Winter

When the weather takes a turn for the frigid, thoughts of warmth and good food bring comfort. Fortunately, Lebanon’s got its fair share of comfort food, from the traditional manakish pies to more international chow (namely, burgers). Here’s the round-up of my favorite spots this winter, in no particular order. The seasonal Raclette burger at BRGR.Co An unlikely find: The J’s 6oz. Black Angus burger  This was a chance discovery, thanks to a Zomato voucher.  The J’s  is a delivery joint operating out of Verdun, and they serve up a slew of salads, sandwiches, burgers and mains. The namesake 6-oz. burger for 14,500 LL caught my eye, and when I read the beef is sourced from Black Angus cattle, I was sold. Delivery to downtown Beirut took the estimated 35 minutes, and the sandwich was pretty darn exceptional.  Nifty packaging! A thick, juicy beef patty topped with lettuce, tomato and a light signature sauce is jacketed in a soft, seed-free bun. Except for

Asian Cuisine Makes a Comeback in Beirut

For the longest time, the extent of Asian cuisine dominating the Lebanese dining scene was Chopsticks. I remember when it was first introduced in 1998 to Sin el Fil, where Margarita sits now, and how it quickly became all the rage. In no time, "Chicken Cashew" became a household name, and "spring rolls" found their way into the Lebanese lexicon.  As restaurant standards climbed, Chopsticks slipped into casual Chinese dining at best, and a myriad of more authentic options cropped up. Chen Bao in Saifi Village, The Jasmine Room in Jal el Dib, and Le Hanoi in Sofil are just a few of the restaurants that tickled our taste buds but disappeared as swiftly as they'd appeared. For a while, we were back to square one, until PF Chang's crossed the Atlantic in 2012 to take root on our Mediterranean shores.  Chang's is tasty and reliable in the way that all behemoth American chains are. It's already found a foothold in three mall complexes. But it lacks th

A Pub Serving Tasty Grub: BistroBar Live at The Village

It's hard enough finding a pub that  isn't stuffy,  boasts expert bartenders, and   plays smooth tunes. Now add delicious edibles to the checklist, and you're pretty much asking for a miracle.  I was pleasantly surprised with BistroBar Live at the new restaurant and bar concept The Village in Dbayeh. Enter the space through a foldable glass door, and allow one of the attentive waitstaff to seat you. Once settled, a complimentary snack mix will land on your table. It is irresistible, blending Al Rifai corn nuts, roasted soybeans, pepitas, peanuts, and seasoned krikri. What an energy boost! Welcome snack mix Make sure you commence the food fest with the goat cheese salad, which cradles a disk of herb-dusted chèvre mounted onto crispy vermicelli, all atop a refreshing lettuce mix tossed in yuzu and decked with pomegranate seeds, tomatoes and pears. That's a real mouthful! Goat cheese salad The Citrus Salmon layers the namesake smoked fish a

Undoing Centuries of History and Heritage: The Fate of a Beirut Monument

The metropolis of Hamra in the heart of Beirut tucks a tome of history in its streets. A venture down any of its narrow, one-way lanes is a passage back in time to when Beirut was lush with unspoiled verdure, when vistas of the sea could be had unobstructed from any perch, and when the city was a shopping hub and cinema destination. Today Hamra is divided in more ways than one. It is cosmopolitan, packing in refugees from Syria and expats from every corner of the globe. It straddles the old and the new, with quaint box homes dating back centuries nestled between commercial and residential high-rises. And its demographic makeup is polarized, with college students and octogenarians comprising the bulk of the population. Such are the colors that paint Hamra and give it a unique identity unlike any other Beiruti bastion. Some love it, while others detest it, but one thing’s certain: it is a cornerstore of Lebanese history, and we ought to preserve its fabric. The Red House

Secteur Gourmet: Beirut's Ultimate Gastropub Is Thriving

If any venue in Beirut can be credited with tackling the gastropub challenge, replete with its haute cuisine and exceptional libations, it’s Secteur. The dimly-lit space perches on the first floor of a  corner   residential edifice in Mar Mikhael. Inside, a brass counter top reflects an illuminated back bar, behind which expert mixologists Elie and Raed work their liquid craft with unrivalled finesse.  In one of the side rooms, a massive table cradling a curious bed of pooled candles seats diners in a more private setting. There’s even a convenient smoke room to accommodate puffers and keep the bar area’s air quality haze-free. Nearly a year ago, Secteur unveiled its newly-renovated interior, with an inspiring food and drinks menu to boot . Renowned British Chef Ed Dutton of London’s Pieds Nus had been commissioned to consult on the fare, which featured such delicacies as veal eel tartar, curried frog legs, and truffle mushroom croquettes.  Lychee Royal: Prosecco, passi

Nutrition 101: Discovering the Ultimate (and Safe) Protein Bar

So much these days flies under the hazy umbrella of “health food.” Million-dollar expressions like “all-natural,” “no artificial flavors,” or “no added sugars” get flung around abusively and are no guarantee of a product’s true health composition.  Which is why it’s imperative to analyze the nutrition facts and ingredients. On those rare occasions where the ingredients check out on paper, they manifest themselves poorly to our palates, quite simply tasting awful. Ordinarily, I’m suspicious of protein bars. Their biblically-long ingredients lists read like a foreign language. Worse, they deposit a nasty chemical aftertaste in your mouth, leaving you convinced you’ve just noshed on synthetic. I’d rather have an innocent granola bar like Nature Valley’s, or if I’m really ambitious, I’ll splurge on Carman’s nutrient-rich muesli bars. But in both cases, the stars of the show are carbs, not protein. So you can imagine my pleasant surprise when I happened upon PureFit bars, hailin