Sucre e Levain – Jounieh

I was excited to find a recently opened pastry shop next to my house, and so I went to taste a sample of their products. The lady that helped me there was very friendly and the items were nicely displayed in the shop. I chose some treats for my breakfast and headed home to devour them. I started with the croissants. They were pleasantly crispy and flaky, yet very heavy on the butter, which was a shame. Then I tried the flutes with thyme, which were crunchy and surprisingly not oily, but I would opt for the ones with the cheese next time. As for the sweet confections, the chocolate sable was good. However, the soft and fluffy madeleines were my favorite, and it was difficult to stop myself from eating them all in one go. I think that I would return to try other delicacies they have to offer, as well as their bread.

La Creperie – Jounieh

We chose to go to La Creperie for the view and due to its proximity to our house. What captures your attention first is the beautiful pathway leading to the entrance of the restaurant. The greenery is appealing and already you can feel the tension in your body fading away. It totally fades away when you set your eyes on the view of the sea and neighboring mountains. Unfortunately, it was too hot to sit outside, so we opted for an indoor table by the window. Our waiter was very careful while taking our order, and he catered to my pregnancy restrictions in a friendly manner. Hot bread was served first with olive tapenade and butter—I love it when that announces the start of a meal. I had the shrimp risotto and the chicken escalope. The rice in the shrimp risotto was not as firm as it should be, and the shrimps were a tad salty. However, I did enjoy the chicken escalope because it was thin and herbs were mixed into the crispy breading. We couldn’t leave La Creperie without having some crepes, so we had them as our something sweet. I had the crepe which had good chocolate lurking inside it, but the texture of the chocolate was unpleasantly grainy, instead of it being smooth and creamy. All in all, it was a relaxing lunch experience.

the spoonteller – Zouk Mikayel

Meticulous is the word that comes to mind when I think of the spoonteller. Being relatively close to home, I have repeatedly passed by this restaurant until I finally made it through its doors. Inside soothing music is played, which makes you forget you are located a few steps away from the highway. Warmly greeted by a motherly woman who seemed to be the owner, we were lead to our table. That is where the adjective meticulous comes in; she wanted to make sure that everything is just right. If she wasn’t attentively taking our order, she was supervising the waiters, or visiting the kitchen. Hot bread landed on the table, crispy on the outside with a soft and fluffy interior, it was difficult to resist eating more than one slice. Then as my starter, I had tender chicken with a crunchy exterior; they were tasty and not oily. For my main course, I had the shrimp risotto and I enjoyed the mouthfuls of flavorful firm rice. To sweeten things up, I opted for the pain perdu. What stood out was the caramelized crust of the brioche—it seemed like it had taken its time forming the delicate envelope. Although, I do usually prefer the insides of my pain perdu to be more soaked with milky liquid. However, I have to admit that maybe if I had eaten the accompanying ice cream with it, it would have provided some needed moisture to the beautifully caramelized bread. There is much more to taste here, so this visit to the spoonteller will not be my last…

Felicie (French Eaterie) – Mar Mikhael

I actually saw the sign of the name of this restaurant being put up from where I was comfortably seated at the neighboring “parlour of sage”. I was excited when I read “French Eaterie” and placed it at the top of my list of new eateries to try out for lunch when it opened. First of all, I would like to point out that we were warmly welcomed and shown to a table, and that our waiter was great. It was very clear that he cared, and he put in so much effort to make sure our order was correct and that we had everything we needed. This was in contrast to the other waiters who looked like they were on a coffee break behind the counter. I would like to also praise the manager who came to our table twice to ensure all is well because they have opened their doors recently, and then asked for my feedback taking into consideration my honest comments gracefully. While we were waiting for our order to arrive, I looked around at the decoration. I liked how the bottles were used for that purpose, as well as how jars and other products were put on display along the length of the wall. My favorite part of the meal was at the very beginning; the bread, butter, and olive tapenade. The bread was warm, the olive spread was tasty, and that ball of butter with herbs was delicious. As a starter, we ordered one of their galettes. It was fine; not out of this world but also not bad either. For my main dish, I ordered a burger–honestly, if I weren’t pregnant with zero immunity, I would have tried something else. I did enjoy the flavor of their candied onions with the meat and cheese, but at a point I encountered an unpleasant chewy chunk within the patty. I also thought that the bun (especially the top part) was too thick and I had to remove it midway through eating the platter. As I previously mentioned, the friendly manager showed interest in what I had to say and seemed dedicated to improving their dishes. I genuinely wish Felicie the best moving forward.

L’Atelier du Miel Workshop & Garden Cafe – Mar Mikhael

We got stuck in so much traffic on our way to have breakfast at L’Atelier du Miel but it was worth it. The staff was very friendly and we were welcomed with a taste of just-made chocolate confections. What I liked about L’Atelier du Miel was the pride and passion that seemed to exude from their products. This was shown in the knowledge of how their honey is made, as well as in the various types of honey featured in the items on their food menu. I appreciated that the paper placemat had the map of Lebanon on it, with a colored legend telling us which honey was made where. I also loved that my hot chocolate was infused with honey and that their strawberry jam was deliciously sweetened with the golden syrup. While my other half indulged in poached eggs with smoked salmon (one of the things on my list to eat as soon as I give birth), I had the scrambled eggs. They were so fluffy and creamy sitting on a slice of bread, and I really enjoyed them. I added some of the olive tapenade that came with the bread basket to them as well. The olive paste was great and nothing beats freshly baked bread. As for the croissants…yummy! They were so crispy and flaky. The stack of pancakes was my least favorite item; I did not feel that they were as fluffy as they should be. They were generously engulfed with honey, which rendered them a tad too sweet. However, to be fair, I was the one that had to order them without the accompanying berries, which I am sure would have added the necessary tartness that would balance the flavors. At the end of the breakfast, I was surprised with a lovely gesture: a box of Nougats as a gift for the constantly hungry baby kicking in my womb. We also could not leave the premises before taking some of their honey home with us. The comfortable ambiance at L’Atelier du Miel made me feel good on the inside, and I will be returning to taste their salads, sandwiches, and hot platters—of course, adorned with honey.

The Sage Parlour – Mar Mikhael

Usually when I think of eateries in the streets of Mar Mikhael, most of the time what comes to mind is a tiny space to dine in. I was delighted to see that The Sage Parlour was not one of them. The larger size of the restaurant left me feeling comfortable, and the interior was beautifully crafted. The glass doors and facade let natural light in, the accessories were carefully coordinated, and the “greenery” sprouting from the wooden ceilings added to the relaxing ambiance. Also, our waitress was great; she was meticulous and attentive, as well as being friendly and polite. Our drinks arrived first. Not a keen coffee drinker, I ordered the hot chocolate, yet I was slightly disappointed because I like my hot cocoa to be richer and more creamy. I love it when the chocolatey drink is thick and dense. Then, their fluffy pull-aparts graced our table. I enjoyed biting into them, although I preferred them with the salt and butter more than with the sweetness of the jam. However, I would have loved it if the butter had been a tad more “spreadable”, instead of it just sitting there on the bread. For our mains, I liked the presentation of the Shakshouka and Merguez sausages on the side that my husband ordered, and loved my omelette platter. To sweeten things up, I had the buttermilk pancakes which were very good. All in all, I was looking for a laid back breakfast experience, and that is what I got. I would like to come back to The Sage Parlour to try their daily bakes and soft boiled eggs, and I also do have to try their Eggs Benedict!

Diwan Beirut – Antelias

Seeking a high chair and a non-smoking area, I called Diwan Beirut in Antelias. I was pleasantly surprised when I was told that there was a smoking floor and a non-smoking floor. It had been a while since I had craved Lebanese cuisine throughout my pregnancy, but since I felt like having that, I dragged my family along with me. Wanting to try a new place, and relying on the fact that it comes from the same people who brought us Al-Sultan Brahim, we reserved a table for lunch. The man on the other end of the phone was very welcoming and professional, and when we arrived this great service continued until we were seated and ordered our food. However, after that, it was a miracle if we could find a waiter to help us out and when we did, it took us 3 times of ordering a diet soda to eventually receive it. Also, I had requested that no fresh vegetable garnish our food due to my current non-existent immunity, and it went well until the breaded shrimp platter arrived. We asked for another platter instead but we received the same shrimp constituents with the lettuce removed from underneath them. Let’s just say that we had to keep the “tarnished” shrimp on our table as hostage to make sure we received newly fried ones! As for the actual taste of the food, mostly everything I tasted was very good. The hummus was creamy, the fried kibbe was delicate, the fries were crispy, and the breaded shrimps were tasty and seemed fresh. I made it a point to try their mixed grilled skewers, and all three of the variations were delicious. The kafta was extremely tender, the meat was juicy, and the chich taouk was also succulent. In addition, the spices and marination were well balanced. When we were done, it took a really long time for the waiters to clear our table so that we could order dessert. However, when they did remove all the plates, we received an array of complimentary fruits and oriental sweets. The fruits looked very appealing, but when I spotted the lazy cake that I am familiar with from Al-Sultan Brahim, I had to have two slices, along with a piece of nammoura. They were a satisfying sweet end to the whole meal. All in all, although the service deteriorated towards the end of our lunch, the food rescued the whole experience at Diwan Beirut…this time.

Paul – Ghazir

Paul makes me feel comfortable. I like the ambiance and the friendly service. I love that their fresh bread and pastries are part of their decoration. If you are a breakfast person, like me, Paul is a great place to head to. They have a selection of items on display, as well as an additional menu featuring breakfast “formules”. First, our drinks arrived. I ordered the hot chocolate which reminded me of homemade mixes which was nice, although I do prefer mine a tad more dense and chocolatey. I had one of the pieces of bread in the basket (with their creamy butter and right-amount-of-sweet jam), and I found it a bit tough to bite into. However, the olive bread in my sandwich was very soft and delicious, along with the cheese within it. As for the croissants, I like how crispy and flaky they are. Breakfast at Paul is something that I really enjoy and I will surely keep coming back for more!

Med – Hazmieh

City Centre is one of the destinations we target when meeting my sister during her lunch breaks due to its proximity to her work. We decided to try a restaurant we haven’t tried before there, namely Med by Duo. We have been to Duo, which is usually good, so we were encouraged to taste this sister eatery. We sat indoors to escape from the clouds of smoke outside. It took a while for the waiter to acknowledge our presence, but once he did, we realized that he was a hard worker. I stole a piece of chicken strips from my toddler’s platter, and dipped it in the accompanying honey mustard sauce. I loved both; this would be a platter I would order again. I used the honey mustard sauce to dip my fries in as well. In the mood for steak, I ordered the Philadelphia Sandwich. However, when I asked about what cheese they use in it, I was told that it was Emmental which was unpasteurized (which I found weird). So, there would be no risk taking during my pregnancy, hence I opted to replace it with the pasteurized Cheddar. Unfortunately, the sandwich came with lettuce, which was unmentioned on the menu. I am forbidden from eating raw constituents at restaurants due to my current non-existent immunity. The staff readily apologized and made me a new steak sandwich, but I really believe that all constituents of a certain platter should be mentioned on the menu to avoid such mistakes from happening. The sandwich was good, yet what stood out was the bread, which seemed fresh. We did not have dessert this time, although I am curious to try them out. Maybe next time…

Le Rouge – Hazmieh

Restaurant complexes are popping out everywhere nowadays. One such complex is called City Walk, where Le Rouge is now located. We used to frequent Le Rouge when it was popular in Hamra (and sometimes Gemmayze), the target being their grain mustard sauce smothering pieces of succulent chicken, and the focaccia bread they welcome you with. That was the reason we decided to go to this restaurant; to relive the nostalgia. As soon as we arrived, a staff member calls to us from the inside ushering us to come in. I felt that that was slightly desperate as opposed to being welcoming. Then, he scoops up my toddler into his arms with the intention of helping me lead him indoors because he was fighting to have another go at the escalator. Another waiter then also carries him and the whole invasion of personal space becomes bothersome. Anyway, so we finally sat at a table and ordered our platters. The waiter was attentive and accommodating to any alterations we wanted to be done to the dishes. We were greeted by the focaccia we were familiar with, and eating that calmed my nerves (even though the background music choice was not that great). However, the bread was soft and warm in the middle and a tad unpleasantly crunchy on the sides. Yet, I was awaiting that grainy mustard sauce. I tried the escalope which tasted comforting and homey, but the accompanying pasta was a bit overcooked. Then the chicken with grain mustard sauce arrived. Honestly, however I did not taste the chicken because it was tinted pink when I cut into it. The same had happened to my mother as well, so I did not want to point it out again. The waiter readily took my mother’s chicken and cooked it some more, but being pregnant I just decided to refrain from eating it altogether. But no! I was adamant to try that nostalgic  sauce, so I drizzled it onto my wedges. Thankfully, the sauce lived up to its memory in my head. I actually enjoyed the seasoning on the potatoes and the tasty sauce that covered them. Now, it was time for dessert, so we ordered the apple tart and pain perdu. The pain perdu was okay, although I needed to have extra caramel to sweeten it further. All in all, I do commend the effort of the staff, but unfortunately the food and ambiance was lacking and paled in comparison to the Le Rouge that I remember.