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.

DELI.CO – Downtown Beirut

Based on my positive experiences with the food offered by the Hadid restaurants, as well as the delicious Classic Chicken Club sandwich at DELI.CO itself, we decided to try it out for brunch. We started out with hot drinks; the hot chocolate was fine, nothing memorable. Then, I had the omelette with cheese, which was average in terms of texture and flavor (it was kind of bland). I stuffed part of it inside the plain croissant I had also ordered. The croissant itself was okay as well, although there were parts of it that were unpleasantly cold. The Eggs Benedict looked appetizing, but the sauce seemed to be coming apart. We ended the meal with waffles and maple syrup. The waffles were light and crispy—I enjoyed eating them. However, I preferred them without the maple syrup that was provided because it felt like it was somehow diluted. Honestly, I had expected more and my taste buds left feeling a little disappointed.

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.

Far Eats – Naccache

For a change of cuisine, we opted for that of the Far Eats. Lunch started with crunchy prawn chips with sweet chili dip. They were addictive but the ones at the bottom of the bowl were a tad too oily. As for our order, first and foremost, I would like to commend our waitress who was not only friendly but went out of her way to make sure every platter was safe for me to eat, with my current lack of immunity. The beef yakitori starter had a great blend of flavors and the melted cheese center complemented it well. I also liked the teriyaki sauce with the robata shrimp, as well as the freshness of the sweet and sour chicken. The battered chicken pieces were tasty, yet my personal preference would be the simplicity of plain rice accompanying this dish on the menu (instead of the veggie rice). However, the best was indeed kept for last. Those chocolate bonbons were delicious! The outer crispy shell encasing chocolate that oozes out when you bite into it…I could have kept on nibbling on those all day.

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!

Blu – Mtayleb

Chocolate cravings? In the mood for chocolate, cakes, and the like, we happened to spot Blu as we were going up the winding road home. We decided that this time we would pass by. The lady assisting us was friendly and tried to be helpful. However, the lack of training was apparent because she was not knowledgeable about the ingredients within the cake pieces and had to keep asking for information from another lady on the phone. We ended up choosing a variety of items to try and headed to the car. For me, the humble mini cupcakes were my favorite to nibble on. They were fluffy and moist, and it was difficult to stop myself from devouring all the bag’s constituents. As for the cookies, the thicker ones were better than the regular chocolate chip cookie encasing an Oreo cookie; I felt that the latter was a bit dry. Yet, the double chocolate chip cookie was the best one in that box because it was extremely chocolatey, for hiding inside was more melted chocolate. Considering the second box with the cake pieces, my first comment would be about the chocolate tart crust; it was tasty but did not crumble delicately beneath your teeth. In addition, the chocolate eclair was pleasant and not too heavy although the pastry cream inside was also chocolate. In general, the chocolate used in their cake pieces was creamy and rich. I did end up feeling overly saturated with sugar when I had tasted everything; although I am partly to blame for that because of wanting to steal a bite out of all the goodies we had bought.

Al Forno – Beirut

Like most parents seeking a restaurant in an area where the children can play in, we headed to Zaitunay Bay. The sun was out and we were armed with a tricycle, but first it was time for lunch. Pasta never fails with a toddler it seems, so we decided to go for Italian, hence Al Forno. It was a pleasant surprise. First and foremost, I would like to commend our waiter who couldn’t have done a better job because the service was excellent. We ordered a variety of dishes to get a gist of everything. The fried shrimps were very crispy, and although the zucchini was not cut into thin slices, the breading was so crunchy that it didn’t matter. With my pregnancy, it seems that I am fixated on certain food at certain times. Nowadays, it is the risotto. So, I ordered the shrimp risotto and chicken escalope to share, and they were both tasty. The risotto sauce was a bit dilute but still had flavor, and the breading on the chicken escalope made a pleasant crunching sound beneath our teeth. Al Forno surely did know how to make their breading, and the escalope was not oily at all. For my sweet tooth cravings, I had the pain perdu and the cenci. The extra touch of cinnamon added to the pain perdu was pleasing. As for the cenci, I enjoyed trying something new but the dough was a bit heavy for my taste. All in all, however, we left with a satisfying experience ensuring our definite return.

Em Sherif Restaurant – Achrafieh

Yes, it was all the hype about Em Sherif and their high review scores that eventually aroused my curiosity. We were in the mood for Lebanese cuisine, so we decided to finally give it a try. When you go in, you notice that the restaurant is fancy, with its mirrored tables and silver cutlery (although I liked some aspects of the interior decoration more than others). A noteworthy issue to mention here is that the service was great from when we entered Em Sherif till when we left. The waiters were very welcoming and friendly, and swiftly brought the food to our table. Things work differently at Em Sherif; when you sit down you do not get a menu to choose from but instead the food directly starts coming your way. For a first-timer, the set menu descending at a fast pace in front of you as well as the waiters passing by with trays of food can be exciting, yet a bit overwhelming as you are trying to keep track of what is being offered and trying to taste everything. However, we did request for room to breathe when we were asked if we would like the hot constituents to be served. I am glad we did that because it was then that I enjoyed all the delicious flavors. Em Sherif does have great food. Their hummus is creamy and their humble labne is really really really good. From the items on the “hovering mezza” tray, the la7em bi3ajeen and sambousik were very tasty, and honestly I would rather that the tray land on the table permanently. The chickpeas in the balila were cooked perfectly and it was well seasoned, though a tad oily. I was surprised at how good the harak osbao was; it had the right amount of tanginess. Additionally, the marination of the skewered shrimps was great and I enjoyed the tender meat chunks (I preferred them to the chich taouk). I could go and on about the immense number of platters we tasted, but if I wanted to describe Em Sherif’s food concisely, it would be well-balanced; their seasoning and the combination of flavors were spot on. I also have to commend them on the kibbe nayye, which had the mint and onions within the mixture, meaning all you had to do was add the olive oil. After this feast of salted dishes, it was time for the sweet ones. Their um ali sauce is to die for! I loved their take on the foret noire presentation; it was placed in a bowl and the chocolate cake was in itself a moist hollow vessel in which the fruits and cream were placed. It seems the maamoul bi jibne is popping up everywhere nowadays, and I am a fan of it in general, and a fan of it at Em Sherif. The waiter places it on your plate and professionally slits it open so that the drizzle of syrup reaches the melted cheese beneath the crumbly crust. All in all, Em Sherif provides a rich set menu with a bit of everything and it left us feeling stuffed for the rest of the day.