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!

Leila Min Lebnen – Dbayeh

Food Aversions. The fortunate culprit: Pregnancy. They are still present, but at least now I can actually look at my photos long enough to enable their description to formulate in my head. The most notable aspect of my experience at Leila Min Lebnen was the service. The waiter was extremely understanding of my current diet restrictions and accommodated the platters’ constituents accordingly, and all this was done with a smile. I felt comfortable eating at the restaurant. I liked the Hummus with the hot soft bread served on the side. I also enjoyed the small bites of Stuffed Kibbeh with yogurt. However, the Lebanese Diced Veal stood out with its pleasant tartness. The meat was tender and with the appropriate sourness of the pomegranate molasses sauce, it was very tasty. In the mood for fish, we ordered Grilled Fish instead of the usual mixed grilled platter. Honestly, I felt that it was a tad too oily. For me, I like the simplicity of the flavor profile of a moist yet pristine piece of fresh grilled white fish, with maybe only the addition of salt and a squeeze of lemon to preference. We finished the meal off with Maamoul Bel Jebneh and a bowl of Meghle. I am not a fan of meghle, but do like stuffing maamoul with cheese. Maybe another option could also be maamoul with melted chocolate insides….Just a thought.

Cafe Gourmand – Achrafieh

As soon as we went in, we could sense how friendly the staff working there was. They made sure that we had a table that we liked and directly provided us with a high chair for my fidgety toddler. As we were waiting to be given our menus, the manager came to our table and apologetically told us that it was their first day so we should expect the service to be slow. Honestly, we were not annoyed by the service, and we could see that everyone was working very hard amidst some confusion. However, the issue that was a tad bothersome was that so many of the items on the menu were unavailable; it became difficult choosing what we wanted to eat because of that. Already familiar with Nonna’s pizzas and the other restaurants brought to us by the same owner, I stuck around for the food. The pizza was really good, and the crust was thin and crunchy. Also, the meaty Beef Tataki appetizer with the ponzu sauce was tasty. As for the Steak Frites, the meat was tender and the fries were crispy. I just felt that the sauce was slightly bland and could do with a bit more flavor. The fish in the Fish and Chips platter was fresh and moist, yet the outer crust layer was oily. Unfortunately, they were out of tartar sauce which was needed to enhance the platter, in my opinion. When it was time for dessert, the only available item was the Nutella roll, and they kindly gave us an extra one on the house. In general, the food was good, and I know that it was the opening day and a lot of effort was being put in to make it work, but I believe that they should have maybe tried to wait until they were more prepared for a stronger start.