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.

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!

Urbanista – Dbayeh

Urbanista in Gemmayze was my go-to destination in the months preceding my wedding, when I was undergoing my big day’s dress alterations. It never disappointed. Anyway, this is about the branch at ABC Dbayeh, and as I am writing this, it just came to my attention that Urbanista at this location was my go-to restaurant during my pregnancy—I had to have their BBQ Burger again and again. For no particular reason, it had been a while since I had last visited Urbanista and unfortunately, this review is about my most recent experience. Honestly, in general, I felt that the food was mediocre in flavor. For appetizers, we ordered the Goat Cheese & Tomato Pizzetta, the Quinoa Chips and Chicken, and the Chicken Mini Bites. The goat cheese pizza was very dry and the amount of cheese topping could have been more generous. The quinoa chips were crispy and I enjoyed them with the melted cheese but there was a bit too much barbecue sauce on some of them. For our main dishes, we ordered several burgers, Fish and Chips, and the Veal Escalope. The Double Cheeseburger’s sauce was too sweet for my taste, yet I did like the accompanying coleslaw which was fresh and crunchy. As for the Fish and Chips, I thought that the crust was a tad oily, although the fish encased within it was delicious. When it came to the service, the waiters were very friendly but we didn’t appreciate it when the main dishes arrived before the appetizers. However, they were quick to apologize and gave us two big slices of chocolate cake for dessert along with our choices of coffee on the house. The cake tasted good, even though the cake layers were unevenly moistened. When lunch was over, I left Urbanista with mixed feelings. I had enjoyed the amicable ambiance, but I certainly remember the food being better.

Demoiselle by Galvin – Dubai

Where better to have breakfast than at the Michelin-starred Galvin brothers’ Demoiselle. Situated among many restaurants, in one of the famous areas in Dubai called City Walk, it was a great place to stop for a hearty meal with great service. First of all, one has to comment about the interior; it was so beautiful and dainty. It was a successful attempt at bringing the outdoors inside. When you first enter Demoiselle by Galvin, you are greeted by an array of freshly baked goods on display —that alone arouses your appetite. It all started with a Kouign-amann (a crusty Breton cake) and a couple of their Financiers. Needless to say that they were as good as they looked. However, the coconut financier was a tad oily in comparison to the one with the almond. For drinks we ordered the Hot chocolate and the Pour over V60 brew in the hot coffee section. Then, our Soy milk soaked muesli and Galvin cure smoked salmon & cream cheese croissant arrived. I loved the graceful presentation of the croissant platter. The croissant itself was sublime; it was flaky and light (well, as light as a croissant can be). The cured smoked salmon was amazing; its saltiness complemented the cream cheese perfectly. The cream cheese was also delicious by the way. Just so you know how much I liked the salmon, let me tell you this: I had ordered the Oeuf Florentine (with Spinach) but changed my order to the Oeuf Royale (with Salmon) to be able to eat more of that Galvin cure smoked salmon. I know I have just mentioned how good the croissant with salmon was, but something else blew my mind away even more. The next part of our breakfast consisted of the Flatbread, merguez sausage, scrambled eggs & ful medames and my beloved Oeuf Royale. That Oeuf Royale…WOW. It was really perfect; maybe the best I have ever eaten. First of all, the poached egg was fabulous; it couldn’t have been made any better —every bit of the yolk was runny and every bit of the white was firm. The salty cured smoked salmon balanced the golden goodness in a lovely way, and the Hollandaise sauce was not heavy. They all sat delicately and proudly on the wonderfully Toasted English muffin (you can have Sourdough instead if you would like). When I was done, I was so full that I could not have another bite, and so unfortunately could not taste any more of their goodies. When I travel to Dubai again, I will make sure to return and taste more of what they have to offer (even if I have to take some with me to nibble on later). Although it would be hard not to order those delicacies with the cured smoked salmon I had this time again, I would like to also try their From The Bistrot and Tea Time menus. I would also probably visit Galvin Dubai, which is the other restaurant by the Galvin brothers located nearby.

Angelina – Beirut

Going to Angelina for brunch made me feel like an excited child about to open a gift on Christmas day. I thought about what I would order, and of course about the pictures I could take there. After we parked the car, we enjoyed the stroll on our way to the famous French restaurant and patisserie. When we arrived and went in, we were greeted by friendly waiters, lovely painted sections of white walls, and mostly brown furniture to balance the brightness. After we were seated and readily provided with a high chair, it was time to order. Being a brunch kind of person, I wanted to taste a variety of their breakfast offerings. Angelina provides different breakfast set menus, an egg menu that starts at 9 am and an additional a la carte menu that goes on until noon, after which there is a brunch menu and lunch platters that begin to be served. We were still in time for the breakfast menus, and opted to feast on Angelina breakfasts and Eggs Benedict platters with smoked salmon. The waiter took note of all the order mentally, including our choices from the options provided for the Angelina breakfasts. Yes, no jotting down anything on a piece of paper, and no inputting the information on a tablet, and our order turned out perfectly fine; no mistakes here. As the food arrived, I had to take photographs of the constituents while they were still in their pristine condition; although, I have to admit that sometimes I slightly annoy the company I am with, who comply despite their hunger. We started with the bread and butter, as well as the selection of croissants and jams; I liked their zaatar croissant. I especially enjoyed the Angelina hot chocolate that I had chosen. It was thick, creamy, and satisfying, and weirdly, it tasted as good (maybe even better) when it turned colder. Let’s just say, if you feel like drinking a chocolate bar, this comes very close to gratifying that need. Then the eggs made their debut. Zooming in on the Eggs Benedict; it was wonderfully appetizing when the hollandaise sauce merged with the bright orange goodness that cascaded from the poached eggs when they were cut open. The eggs seated on hidden smoked salmon and the whole combination of the platter is indeed delicious (all hail the creator of this dish). Another easier, yet delicate way to have your eggs done is the soft-boiled method, and for the eggs to be great, they have to be boiled just the right amount. As I was breaking the shell of the egg, I awaited the oozing of the runny yolk down the sides, creating a tasty mess. I was not disappointed, the anticipation had not gone to waste. I dipped the toasted sticks of bread into the core and reveled in the momentary happiness of the simpler things in life.

 

Another source of joy for me is pastry. Angelina has a patisserie section filled with appealing confections on display. We ordered the staple “Le Mont-Blanc” signature piece, as well as the “Duchesse” and “Bianca” to take home with us. Honestly, I preferred Angelina’s Salted to their Caramel; their pastry is a tad on the sweet side for my taste. However, I would like to note that the great service also extended to their patisserie; the lady that was there was polite and friendly. Moreover, the waiter was knowledgeable about pieces that Angelina had previously had and the components of each dessert, when I inquired about them. I left Angelina knowing that I would be returning to enjoy their breakfast once again.

Al Ferdaws – Ehden

During the lazy Summer days of my childhood, Ehden was a place we visited to avoid the heat radiating from the scorching sun. One of the popular restaurants we could escape to there was Al Ferdaws. However, it wasn’t just us that sought this restaurant as a refuge; in those days a person would have to struggle to find an empty table. Well, when we went this time, there was no need to search for a space to be seated in. We decided to try it anyway, although if you’re a parent, you should be aware that high chairs are not provided. A noteworthy issue is that the service was really great; the waiters were very attentive and friendly. The cool breeze was refreshing, and the vast greenery that the restaurant overlooked was luscious. It was time to try the food. For those of you who do not know this, Ehden is well-known for its voluminous spherical “kibbe”, especially the one filled with “shahem” (fat). Actually, the kibbe with fat was the best thing I tasted at Al Ferdaws, other than the fattoush which was fresh and well-seasoned. The mezze/appetizers were fine; the only one from the platters we ordered that I did not like was the sambousik. As for the grilled meat and chicken dish, the most flavorful and succulent was the kafta. Some meat pieces were more tender than others, but the chicken was borderline chewy. When all the Salted was taken off the table, the restaurant offered us an assortment of fruits on the house. Then, like in most Lebanese restaurants, a person wearing a traditional attire dedicates himself to passing around the tables to pour coffee for those who want some bitterness to accompany the sweetness of the fruits and the biscuits with lokum cubes. I left Al Ferdaws feeling content to have returned to a place that I used to go to in my younger years.

Below, you can find a collage of photographs depicting the procedure of slicing through your ball of kibbe to render it edible in an easier way, while preserving the fat inside a sort of meaty dipping bowl. The process was demonstrated by the kind head waiter.

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Liza – Achrafieh

Rarely are both the interior and exterior of a restaurant charming. With Liza, it was the case; the outer entrance portrayed the elegance that was to come. You could tell that what was waiting for us inside was going to be decorated with refined taste. It did not disappoint. From the adorable courtyard, to the elevator leading upstairs, and the hallway adorned with lighting; they all maintained a coherent theme. At the end of the corridor, you are greeted with high ceilings and rooms embellished with wallpaper, flooring, lighting, and furniture that are extremely pleasing to the eye. Whichever way you look, it is all well thought of to the tiniest detail. It made me hold my breath in anticipation, awaiting the beautiful presentation of the food we were going to order.

 

We ordered several mezze items, of which my favorite was the kibbe; it fell apart easily inside your mouth revealing its goodness. The hummus and the kafta arayess were really good as well. The shanklish was tasty, but it was a tad spicy. The fries were homemade, which is always appreciated. The fattoush and cheese rolls were fine, but not great. However, I did love the neatness in presentation, which consolidated the fact that Lebanese food can be presented in an appealing way. The mix of metal and pottery vessels used to display the food was creative and lovely. I do not remember a Lebanese restaurant that showcased the grilled meat, kafta, and chicken in a better manner to date. The coffee and desserts further retained the elegant presentation. The rice pudding was good, and the chocolate cake was simultaneously rich, dense, and brittle. As for the service, the hostess and the waiters were welcoming and friendly. All in all, I enjoyed my meal at Liza. Although the concoctions on their own are not outstanding, the presentation, decoration, and the whole ambiance all complement the food and each other wonderfully making it more of an experience than just about eating.