Meet Charlotte: The New Kid on the Block
Everything about Charlotte struck me as agreeable. Hospitable and generous, just as you’d look for in a host. Accommodating, even if you dropped in on short notice. And intriguing, serving a selection of French and Italian cuisine studded with some Asian bites.
You did realize I was talking about a restaurant, didn’t you?
We sauntered in on a calm Wednesday evening around 7, having called a half hour in advance to confirm availability. Seating ourselves in the fore of the restaurant, where Parisian café-trottoir circular tables and thatch chairs prevail, we were immediately greeted by Micheline. She pointed out that we'd arrived just in time for happy hour (5 - 7:30 pm daily).
Giddy with excitement, we ordered a bottle of chilled 2014 Domaine des Tourelles rosé for a mere 24,500 LL ($16). Before I could even inquire whether there were nuts for munching, a generous bowl of seasoned kernels descended upon the table, sided by a basket of sliced bread and a smooth paste of eggplant caviar with pesto and plain yogurt. I love it when I don’t have to speak up.
Some minutes later, our goat cheese salad (25,000 LL) made a prominent entrance, piled high in confirmation of its menu description: “Les Salades Repas.” Two slightly heated slices of chèvre lait cru fortified by toasted bread dazzled a bouquet of greens ornamented with bresaola, green apple, dates, and mushroom.
We sat mesmerized as Micheline, now assisted by Hassan, positioned our feuilleté aux fromages (24,500 LL) onto an elevated metal rack. Three emblematic French cheeses—Comté, Emmental, and chèvre lait cru—formed the molten core of this pastry dough turnover, coupled with sun-dried tomato and a side salad in raspberry vinaigrette. I’d have only tweaked the contents to include fresh thyme and sliced olives for an acidic contrast and an extra kick of flavor.
|Feuilleté aux fromages|
The test of any real French brasserie is arguably its steak-frites (36,500 LL), and I was up to the challenge. A pleasing cut of entrecôte doused in a creamy pepper sauce lulled me into epicurean ecstasy. I threaded my fork through each tender slice of meat and several French fries before dragging them through the sauce.
The only faux pas was when my knife slipped out of my hands and into my lap—Charlotte should stock up on tablecloths in addition to paper napkins. But Hassan came to my succor within seconds, brandishing an anti-stain aerosol solution.
At the persuasion of Micheline, we also enjoyed an Asian-inspired number of curry shrimps alongside a valley of basmati with raisins (33,500 LL). Be warned, this dish is piquant!
|Crevettes au curry rouge|
Glancing at the dessert selection, I was mystified by the absence of a Charlotte aux Fraises—for whom, then, is the restaurant named? We settled on the crêpe au citron meringuée (16,000 LL), which comes filled with a rather loose lemon curd and caramelized lemon zest, all topped with fives puffs of meringue buttercream. I was jolted back to memory of my college fluid mechanics course and the importance of viscosity.
|Crêpe au citron meringuée|
From start to finish, we were impressed with Charlotte. Service was at our beck and call. Cuisine was indulgent, even if the menu is decidedly eclectic. It's obvious the kitchen is well acquainted with the trendy Lebanese palate, and that’s precisely what they’re dishing out.
I’m coming back for you Charlotte, but this time I want to see a namesake dessert!
+961 71 104242