Villa Badaro Affords Front Yard Frolic and Food
For a few years now, Badaro, a residential suburb located mere minutes from downtown Beirut, has experienced a proliferation of eateries and pubs. Many were hasty to dub it the next “it” place after Monot and Mar Mikhael, as well-known names like Bodo, Lina’s and Onno moved into the quiet quartier.
Roam the main Badaro street on any given night of the week, and you’ll notice the pubs and cafes are spilling over with people. But Badaro’s got a very different feel than any of its nightlife predecessors. It’s relatively calm, owing to the more mature audience it draws out. And it’s homey. Honestly, it’s like a scene out of the Montparnasse district in Paris, muddling storied facades with restored spaces, and breathing life anew.
|You'd need a savvy gourmand to appreciate a Badaro drink like this! |
How cool is that desiccated blood orange slice?
One such gem is Villa Badaro, situated on a side street leading to the military hospital. Its charm is in its outdoor setting, a veritable garden canopied by trees. You get the sense that you’re hanging out in a friend’s front yard. The only difference, of course, is the expertly adept bar located in one corner of the yard. There's also the knowledgeable staff members who go out of their way to line up an inventive potion with your taste buds. Oh, and the grub steers clear from the garden variety (pun intended) offerings we see everywhere in Lebanon.
Within minutes, we were set with a Passionate Mule (16,000 LL)—think passion-fruit inspired Moscow Mule—and an Old Cinnamon Whiskey (18,000 LL)—cinnamon-infused Bulleit bourbon. As the liberal dose of alcohol began to caress the creases of our craniums, a selection of entrees made its welcome descent onto the table.
|Passion-fruit Moscow Mule, aka Passionate Mule|
First up, smoked tuna tataki (25,000 LL), featuring substantial slices of seared sesame-crusted Bluefin served on a bed of eggplant confit with a heap of shredded carrots, beetroot and zucchini to boot. What brings it all together is a tangy Japanese dressing owing its origins to soya and balsamic vinegar.
|Smoked tuna tataki|
At the persuasion of our waiter Patrick, we opted for the tuna tartare with mango (26,000 LL). While you might discount it as repetitive—tuna on replay?—it was starkly different from the smoked form. Diced with mango, avocado, cherry tomatoes, and shallots, the fresh fish is accentuated by green chili and chives.
|Tuna tartare with mango|
I usually can’t get past mini burgers on any menu, so we sampled Villa’s version served with a flowerpot of fries. Three burgers, three different fillings to jazz up a lightly seasoned beef patty. The mushroom sauce proffers a real boost, while the tomato and onion mash-up is far too restrained. The cheddar is as good as ever.
|A trio of mini burgers with a pail of fries|
But if you ask me, the mains are where the magic dwells.
A flaky, pan-seared filet of mérou (35,000 LL) lays delicately on a bed of mashed potatoes drizzled with olive oil and crusted with capers and chives. If you’re watching your waistline, go with this grouper.
|Grouper fish on a bed of mashed potatoes|
Never before have I had beef brochettes (33,000 LL) done to my preferred level of cuisson. By default they come medium, so if you’re averse to bloody beef, shift up to medium well and prepare to be blown away. Succulent, melt in your mouth, and beautifully marinated with spices, these beef cubes—nine in total—mesh with a basmati rice pilaf and peppercorn sauce for a bite with a bang.
|Beef brochettes on a bed of basmati (how's that for alliteration?)|
Dessert? Unmissable. Two imposing wedges of pain perdu drizzled with caramel sauce emerge warm, sided by a solitary scoop of vanilla ice cream to clash with both texture and temperature (15,000 LL).
|Pain perdu à deux!|
If you’re a fan of pizookies, you’ve knocked on the right villa. A 10-cm pan of freshly-baked chocolate cookie weighed down by a dollop of ice cream will satisfy your sweet tooth with its heaping dose of saccharin (15,000 LL). In fact, you can feel the granular sugar crystals crunch beneath your teeth. It's crispy and tender in the all the right places.
|Pizookie with ice cream|
Villa Badaro welcomes visitors day and night, extending its lush green setting to those who want to escape the concrete jungle. Affording exceptionally tasty cocktails and a riveting roster of dishes, this bastion is everything you’d look for in a home away from home.
|Feels just like home, doesn't it!|