When the Buffet Craving Calls, Mosey Over to Mosaic
Admit it. We all feel like diving into a buffet from time to time. You know, careening through the kitchen stations and stands, admiring the cheese displays, salivating over the hot mains, or stealing glances at the chef whipping up a pasta sauce from scratch. There’s something ineffably exciting about filling up your own plate with whatever tempts the eye and going back for seconds, thirds, fourths even without attracting neither frown nor judgment.
Buffets are the hallmark of hotels, but in Beirut you rarely see them outside the breakfast scene. There’s one exception, and it’s Mosaic, located on the first floor of Phoenicia Intercontinental in Ain Mreisseh.
|How often do you spot a Paris-Brest in Beirut? Well, it's at Mosaic.
Mosaic is exactly what its name implies, an artistic array of beautiful food arranged in neat, patterned, immaculate styles. Seven days a week, the spacious restaurant, perching on the corner of the five-star property and overlooking the St. George Bay with floor-to-ceiling glass panels, bustles with locals and foreigners, hotel guests and non-guests, business folk and gourmets.
In the past month, we’ve already gone twice: once for a lazy weekend lunch, and again for a weeknight sushi-intensive dinner. Wok Wok, Phoenicia’s Asian eatery, was recently merged with Mosaic to feature a sushi spotlight three times a week (Mon, Thurs and Sat, dinner only). We wanted to enjoy both formats of the buffet, and hence our duo visit.
Here’s what’s to love about Mosaic:
1. Can we please start with the sweet stuff? Hands down, the dessert display at Mosaic leaves absolutely NOTHING to be desired. Boasting Oriental delights such as bite-sized halawet el jebn and mafrouké, in addition to French patisserie like clafoutis, macarons, and miniature éclairs, the slew of saccharin goodies are not only pretty but taste good, too.
|Mini mafrouké pastries
|Apricot and berry clafoutis
|An assortment of macarons
2. Continuing along that same note, the incredibly moist Um Ali takes home the cake. A creamy, cinnamon-kissed bread pudding animated with sultanas, raw pistachios, and orange blossom water, this custard of sorts is easy to plow through. Crown it with a dollop of Haagen Dazs vanilla bean ice cream for even more pleasure.
|Mosaic's Um Ali bread pudding is sublime
|Haagen Dazs ice cream (try the creamy strawberry!)
3. Who knew the “tahini” family was so extensive? I’d obviously met Hummus and Baba Ghannouj before, but I finally became acquainted with Mama Ghannouj, which blends the pulp of grilled zucchini with the iconic sesame paste. There’s also Hummus Beiruti, with its unique spices, Beetroot Hummus, and Carrot Moutabbal for the super adventurous.
|There are about half a dozen tahini dips!
4. Seafood aficionados can find a selection of premium smoked salmon—marinated and otherwise—as well as boiled shrimp, mussels, surimi crab, scallops, and calamari. They're also offered in salad form, tossed with glass noodles, for the non-purists among you.
|Premium smoked salmon and more
5. If it’s sushi night, you can expect the foregoing in addition to counters of sashimi, nigiri, maki, shrimp dumplings, miso soup, fried wontons, and the notorious crab-cucumber-mayo slaw. Two sushi chefs work rapidly to replenish the platters.
|Sushi chefs ensuring that supply meets demand
6. There seems to be a permanent Lebanese station, configured with rustic stews like Laban Immo, to appease international guests. For the rest of us weary of Lebanese home-cooking, there’s popular Indian dishes, namely butter chicken and tikka masala; a live pasta station; grilled fish and meat; and two shawarma skewers (when sushi's taking the night off).
|Beef and chicken shawarma (the seasoning on the beef is spot-on)
Food aside, here are other wins of the Mosaic buffet:
7. Service is doting, with waiters removing plates and refilling glasses quite promptly.
8. The Wi-Fi connection is strong and stable, and best of all, it’s not password-protected. So lap up that bandwidth freely!
At $54 VAT inclusive, the Mosaic buffet is certainly a splurge (note that seafood night on Fridays is $66). But if it puts a dent in your wallet, rest assured the value imparted is high, as you’ll be skipping at least two meals pre- and post-damage. Happy binging!