Paname – Saifi

I don’t usually wait so impatiently for a restaurant to open, but that was the case with Paname. The reason for this impatience: Chef Youssef Akiki. For me, Burgundy’s chef is one of the best, if not the best chef in Lebanon. When I saw the opening announcement, my heart skipped a beat. I had to reserve. Finally, I was walking around in the pleasant Saifi environment with this Almost French restaurant as my destination. When we arrived, we were greeted with people casually sitting outside and a very friendly staff. We were led to our table and given our menus. I scrutinized all of the listed items and wanted to taste as much of the variety provided as I could. We ordered the Seared Bluefin Tuna Ceviche and Scottish Salmon Carpaccio as starters. For mains, we ordered the Spaghetti with Speck, the Wagyu Beef Burger, and the Grilled Plaice. We wanted to order the Grilled Black Angus Tenderloin but it was unavailable. The first items that were placed on our table were a basket of bread, and the wines we had asked for. Then, it really began. The appetizers arrived. The presentation was beautiful; it was reminiscent of Burgundy’s finesse. Both the salmon and the tuna were delicious. The seasoning was well-balanced and the combination of flavors all coming together in one bite was delightful. I loved how the mango tidbits complemented the tuna perfectly. We proceeded with our main dishes soon after. The spaghetti was cooked just right and the sauce was light and creamy. As for the burger, the doneness of the meat rendered it juicy and succulent, making it stand out despite its simple flavor profile. The fish was also extremely tender and moist, and the other components on the plate along with the dressing enhanced the taste even further. When it was time for dessert, the waiter informed us that they would be complimentary. They even refused to charge us for an additional dessert we wanted to pay for. We had the Strawberry Panna Cotta, the Tiramisu, and the Chocolate Mousse. The sauce smothering the cream in the panna cotta was fresh and intense, and the Tiramisu was rich and tasty. Honestly, I preferred both to the mousse dessert, although it was still really good as well. All in all, the service was great and I enjoyed my meal from beginning to end. My taste buds were left widely awakened and longing for more of those creations with flavorful ingredients, especially those fishy appetizers that will keep me coming back for more.

Les Papilles – Paris

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A French bistro on the Michelin Guide, a cozy restaurant lined with wine bottles, Les Papilles left a lasting impression. For dinner, the chef prepares a single set menu – take it or leave it. We decided to take it. It was as if we willfully succumbed to the chef’s desires. I loved the fact that this was it; no choices, yet all unexpected goodness. The first surprise was a gazpacho and I have mentioned before that I am fond of a flavorful gazpacho. The main item on the menu was next;a succulent duck breast with roasted vegetables and potatoes. The sauce was more like a glaze and in my opinion that was the real star of the dish. Then came a slice of tangy cheese that was perfectly complemented by the jam reduction. As a finale, we had the panna cotta which successfully completed the whole meal. I was so satisfied with this hearty meal that on the way back from the bathroom, I caught a glimpse of the kitchen. I was lucky that the door was open in that instance and when I saw the chef I could not stop myself from complementing him on his skills. I won’t forget this restaurant that “forces” you to eat what they want for dinner, in a good way of course.