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.
Another tasteful experience in Belgium; L’air du Temps is a two Michelin-starred restaurant with dishes prepared by chef Sang-Hoon Degeimbre and his team. He describes himself as “a Korean born, a Belgian man and a citizen of the world”; I believe this description extends into his culinary creations. You can see the Korean influence as well as the Belgian one throughout his cuisine.
Situated in an area far from the hustle and bustle of the city, in a peaceful area with gardens, L’air du Temps truthfully makes you feel as if you have stepped into a different world. It was a nice touch to present a card with our choice of set menu highlighted on the page before the food arrived. Garnished with colorful pristine flowers, the dishes are inviting. I love the element of surprise when you have ordered a set menu; it makes a person long to see what will come next. This was the case here, I would be eager to see how art and food come together in the plate to follow. In some instances, things would even seemingly appear to be something that they aren’t because they would be presented in a different texture or form than we are used to seeing.
To describe the service, one can only say that it was truly impeccable. The staff was knowledgeable and alert; explaining the constituents of our meal as well as that of the wines or waters being paired with them. Yes, I did say waters in the plural form. Something I really enjoyed and found interesting was that you could choose to pair different naturally flavored waters with what you were eating; they came in various colors that also brightened the table. As it turns out, the minimalism of the decor had been misleading; it had just been the platform from which these intriguing complex inventions could be showcased.