Micelli’s – Jal el Dib

Micelli’s has a flavorful variety of pizzas, where it is impossible not to satisfy all tastes. The first time we tried their pizza was when we went to the restaurant to take some home with us. We opted for the Porkoi Pa and The American. As we waited for our hot pizzas to descend in the “dumbwaiter” (which is an amusing name for a small elevator used to transfer objects), we met the owners behind this creation. The ambiance is very friendly and you feel like you are standing in the passionate result of dedicated people running a family business. The second time we decided to order pizzas via delivery to the house; it was a bit far so they conceded but with a minimum charge restriction. We chose the Porkoi Pa, Sun Island, The Last Dragon, and Monsieur Croq with tomato sauce. The pizzas arrived with a satisfactory temperature and in good condition. After all the outer layers of description of the circumstances, let us get down to business. How did the pizzas taste? Actually, in the non-Italian pizza category, they fared quite well. Their pizzas are topped with great products, which is key. My favorite, which is obvious since we ordered it twice, is the Porkoi Pa. The hickory smoked barbecue sauce is delicious, and the whole melange of the sauce with the smoked bacon, cheese, green pepper, and onions is well thought of and executed, leading to a well-balanced bite of pizza. The Croq Monsieur with tomato sauce was a safe choice, considering the available selection, yet its simple ingredients shone through. As a pepperoni pizza lover, I would have liked more pepperonis on The American pizza because I felt that the onions and green pepper were slightly overpowering. Maybe I will try The Pepperoni next time. Unfortunately, my least favorite pizzas were the Far East inspired Last Dragon and the mango-pesto Sun Island pizzas. In general, Micelli’s provides a vast selection of flavors, and mostly it comes down to a matter of preference. Something I appreciate is that the cheese and other toppings generously attempt to garnish the whole pizza, all the way right to the crunchy crusty edge, making sure that you leave nothing behind.

 

Pizza Loop

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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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Salem Ice Cream – Kousba

When I think of Salem Ice Cream, or “Bouzit Salem” as we call it here in Lebanon, I remember my childhood visits to this ice cream parlor. It seems that this ice cream place has been proudly standing there since forever. Subjectively speaking, they have the best ice cream in the world, if I let my memories have a say. As Salted Caramel, however, I have to speak the truth in an objective manner. Overall, it is good Arabic ice cream, and it does satisfy a person seeking this kind of ice cream in the Northern parts of Lebanon. Yet, compared to other ice cream of this genre, its flavor is a bit less pronounced. Nevertheless, I would return just for the friendly service and homey ambiance this eatery has. Trying to find a parking spot in front of Bouzit Salem, and joining the people that eat its frozen goods outside their doors and on the front steps (even though there is an adjacent seating area) are what takes the experience to a whole new level.

All the childhood nostalgia inspired me to have some playtime fun, as you can witness in the compilation below.

Correct one

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.

Meats and Bread Hardcore BBQ – Gemmayze

After all the hype for this restaurant, we decided to try Meats and Bread firsthand. The eatery stands out on the street by being a noticeable color on the outside, setting it apart from the mostly dull boring colors nearby. So, the first impression was inviting and we were tempted to go inside. The interior feels cozy and the decoration creates a nice comfortable ambiance, but the fiery pit is what captured my attention the most. We were close enough to the fire to feel its warmth, and the smell coming from the open kitchen was very appetizing. It was definitely time to order. The waiter was very friendly, but it was disappointing when he had to ask the chef about the constituents of items on the menu several times. He did apologize and say that it was because he was new, yet it would have been much better had he been thoroughly trained beforehand (especially knowing the menu inside out). Anyway, without further ado, let us talk about the real reason we found ourselves here: the meat. We ordered a brisket tray and a specialty burger. The barbecue sauce coating the brisket was amazing; it was the right amount of everything and not overly sweet. However, the truffle taste in the accompanying truffled mac and cheese was not evident, which was a shame. As for the meat patty inside the burger, it was juicy and tasted very good, and the bun was surprisingly soft lending an element of lightness to the burger. The fries on the side were well-seasoned and addictive. On the whole, it was an enjoyable meal. Glancing at the dessert menu, no item was striking, so we opted to satisfy our sweet tooth elsewhere. We left Meats and bread feeling like true carnivorous cavemen after a hunt.

Burj Al Hamam – Broumana

Burj Al Hamam is one of the old prominent traditional Lebanese restaurants that I remember from my childhood. We went up to enjoy the Summer breeze and picturesque mountains embellished with pine trees. It is definitely an added value when you have great scenery to complement your food. While the greenery pleases mostly the older generation, they have not forgotten their younger clientele. For the little ones, they provide a pleasant area to play in. Before I delve into their cuisine, I would like to mention the service. Unfortunately, the service was extremely rushed. We struggled to finish our sentences before the waiters magically disappeared into the abyss; it made ordering our food, and requesting anything for that matter, a difficult task. It did make us laugh though, as we tried to get the words out of our mouths as quickly as we could. Even though it was indeed amusing, that did not make it any less unacceptable. On a positive note, I was glad there was no issue of plates hovering above our heads before they landed on the table.

 

Getting to the main act; the food. The mezza (appetizers) was flavorful in general. I thought the hummus and kibbe nayye (raw kibbe) were delicious. However, I felt that the fattoush was a bit heavy on the lemon. As for the cheese rolls, although a tad oily, the melted cheese inside them was actually good. Coming to the grilled goodness, the skewered meat, kafta, and chicken were all tender. They weren’t to die for, but at least all three of them were tasty. Usually, I would like one and not the other. Even after you are full to the brim, rarely do you not get an array of fruits and oriental desserts offered on the house at Lebanese restaurants. Well, this was one of those rare times. Yet, we did still opt to enjoy the freshness the fruits provided after a wholesome hearty meal.

Nicolas Audi at La Maison d’IXSIR – Batroun

We were looking for a serene place to relax in, away from the mundane daily routine, so we decided to go have lunch at Nicolas Audi at La Maison d’IXSIR. Located in the Ixsir winery and Nicolas Audi being a prominent chef in Lebanon, we thought that it was a restaurant that should be visited. When we arrived, we scouted the area, and then we were lucky enough to join the tour of the winery, where we were led underground down a spiral staircase. The tour guide seemed well-trained and after being fed with information about the whole wine-making process, from grapes to barrel to bottle, we savored the end product in glasses on our table. Sitting under the shade of the tree, we enjoyed our Grande Reserve red and white wines, awaiting the opening of the buffet.

 

I rushed to take photographs of the untouched food, in order to capture their presentation before they were destroyed by the hungry people. Success, for the most part. There were a variety of salads and appetizers, of which the hummus was really good. I also really liked the salad with peppers in it because their flavor stood out. Moreover, the mashed potato tasted great with embedded onion bits within it. The fattoush, vine leaves dish, and beans salads were fine, but not exceptional.

 

Moving to the mains, I think I am adamant on melting my phone by taking pictures next to fire, but the skewers of meat being licked by the flames made me feel like a moth (if you know what I mean). The doneness of the grilled meat and chicken was great; they were juicy and tender. Another great item was the rice and creamy sauce, it was a tad spicy but delicious. The pizza squares and chicken nouille lacked flavor, and the kibbe and fish were okay. Let’s just say if I had not been leaving some space for dessert, I would have filled up on the grilled meat and chicken, as well as the rice and creamy sauce. There is something that I should note though; when you change your plate, you keep the same knife and fork. That is not great, but maybe acceptable when you have a placemat to put them on. However, we had no placemat so you had to put your dirty cutlery right on the table which is not hygienic for you nor the table.

 

So, here comes the dessert which was mostly a mixture of oriental sweets and French pastry. The ice cream was good, but not memorable. The baba au rhum was delectable; it was my favorite dessert hands down. I can’t get over their heavenly whipped cream (if you have read my Nicolas Audi patisserie post, then you know I am a fan). Another intense dessert was the chocolate cake which was as chocolatey as it could get, and my advice is to eat it slowly to be able to appreciate each bite. That was the taste I left Ixsir with.

Le Flocon Artisan Glacier – Naccache

Don’t judge a book by its cover; that is sound advice. This time the cover was better than the content of the book. The decoration of Le Flocon is appealing and so is the whole mood of the place. Also, the collaboration with prominent chef Charles Azar makes it even more tempting to taste, so the expectations were high as we walked in. We were greeted with a warm welcome but we sensed an undertone of urgency making us feel like we had to rush the process of selecting the flavors of ice cream we wanted, preventing us from thoroughly eyeing all the varieties. Anyway, we chose a few sorbet scoops, and some non-sorbet ones. I decided to choose a dulce de leche scoop to sit on top of my ice cream cone. That was the first flavor I tried, it lacked intensity and was more watery than flavorful. It wasn’t creamy and full-bodied like it was supposed to be. The chocolate was more rich than the rest, and the mango sorbet was good yet easily replaceable with commercial brands. The other flavors were akin to the watery dulce de leche; no intensity to savor and awaken your taste buds. I was adamant to give Le Flocon another try before judging it (to read the book till the last page), so we focused on the highlight of the ice cream parlor; the creations prepared by Charles Azar. Unfortunately, the Foret Noire and Pavlova ice cream concoctions were not enough to redeem the whole ice cream tasting experience of Le Flocon. I disliked the Pavlova, which is extremely weird for me because I usually love the constituents used to make it. I preferred the Foret Noire, but it is not something I would eat again. Overall, there is nothing special to be found at Le Flocon to differentiate it from other ice cream shops. It is too mediocre to be labelled as an artisan glacier, in my opinion.

Deliveries – Around Lebanon

Sometimes you feel like ordering in instead of going out, that’s when you know it is time to pick up the phone and dial the number that will feed your hunger. After a few times of doing that, I decided to put the “dialees” in a post clustered together. They are still food, you know. Where there is food, there is Salted Caramel.

 

 

Chopsticks: From this Chinese restaurant, we ordered the fried shrimps and fish, egg fried rice, sweet and sour chicken, beef with green pepper, and chicken with bamboo shoots. The order arrived in paper bags; the food was packed neatly, and kept warm. The food is as good as it is at the restaurant; satisfactory, but not over the top. However, I would order from Chopsticks again.

 

Crepaway: Let me just say it, Crepaway’s ordering and delivery process is worth commending. They are always professional on the phone, and in their delivery service. They do not ask for directions to your home over and over again, the food arrives on time and is kept at a good temperature. I also have to add that they have only made one mistake with my food order, and this is over many years of ordering from their restaurant, being a picky eater, and them being human! Seriously, when we want a swift delivery, this is our go-to restaurant. Of course, one shouldn’t forget to mention that within its dining category, Crepaway has really good food. The chicken sandwiches we ordered were great, and their crepes are tasty. This time, I ordered a salty crepe, but I have to mention that their chocolate crepes are delicious.

 

Deek Duke: YUM!! Ok, if you want a chicken sandwich that is really amazing, you should try the Beiruti sandwich at Deek Duke. It is the right amount of chicken and the right amount of garlic, and tastes the right amount of home-made. The chicken is moist and tender in all of their chicken sandwiches. The other sandwich that I like is the barbecue one, the sauce is really flavorsome. If you are craving “chicken goodness”, this is it. Although, I would just like to add that they should expand their delivery coverage to share their food with more areas in Lebanon.

 

Roadster Diner: The revamped Roadster Diner delivery packaging is neater than before, yet it makes me question their identity coherence. Anyway, I still appreciate getting good food presented well. Based on my experience, the dining-in journey with Roadster has been a bumpy one. I have received sandwiches with incorrect ingredients, and burgers with unpleasant chunks in the meat patty. Although, mistakes were dealt with, it made me pause on ordering from their diner for a while. After some time, I have decided to try it again, and this time the order went smoothly, and my food was good. One of my favorite sandwiches at Roadster Diner is the cheese steak sandwich, but I like to place the constituents inside a soft bun instead of the baguette. So, after the success of this delivery order, they have partly redeemed themselves in my eyes. Yet, I will give them more chances to achieve a full recovery.

 

Zaatar W Zeit: The barbecue steak sandwich at Zaatar W Zeit is the reason I order from their restaurant. Seriously, after trying many items on the menu, for me Zaatar W Zeit and barbecue steak sandwich are one and the same. The only other thing to add here is the delivery is unsatisfactory. The driver never makes it to our building without calling us for directions, even though we have ordered from them repeatedly. To be honest, this is a factor we consider when choosing which restaurant we want to order food from.

 

Lord of the Wings: I do not know why we ordered from Lord of the Wings that night, but I was pleasantly surprised. The last time I ordered boneless chicken wings from there seems like a decade ago because I felt that the quality was slowly deteriorating. When we ordered them this time, the chicken reminded me of when I first tried them at Lord of the Wings, which is a good thing. I might just order from there again, I’m still thinking about it.

Awad – Ghazir

Awad is an ice cream shop that I am glad I stepped into. Recently, I have been hearing how good it is, so I decided it was time to try it for myself. I am used to another Arabic ice cream parlor after many years of tasting other places, and I thought this would just be another disappointment. On the contrary, it was really really good; since yesterday I have eaten half a kilogram of ice cream from Awad by myself. I am not joking. This is not a joking matter. It is great ice cream with a very affordable price tag. What I loved most about it, other than its taste of course, is the texture. It is firm (I like to bite into my ice cream), and it tries to withstand the summer heat as much as it can. I am also glad that they have the traditional old-fashioned cones that are crunchy and brittle as an option, in addition to the newer hard and sugary ones. It is especially delicious when the ice cream creeps into the curves of the cone, and you get the ice cream and cone mixture in one mouthful. The milk flavor and crunch combination leaves your taste buds longing for more. This ice cream place is definitely worth its own stand-alone post.