The Best of Beirut
on Feb 11, 2014 By Danielle Issa
Yes, yes, we know—salads can quickly become mundane, leaving a whole lot to be desired while hardly putting a dent in your paunch.
Many restaurants will charge you a fortune for a massive bowl of lettuce and little else, skimping out on the good stuff. Happily, we’ve gone and done the leg work (or is it stomach work?) for you, combing the city for its tastiest, most generous and creative salad offerings.
The winners, ranging from $8 to $18, feature two salad bars for those who love to do it themselves. Click through the slideshow to find out more.
Photo via Crave Restaurant on Facebook
The best thing about this salad bar? The bread section where you can find a host of freshly-baked baguettes, bread sticks, croissants, and bread rolls for the taking, together with small packets of butter. The salad bar itself, priced at 29,500 LL, is jaw-dropping praiseworthy: apart from your standard veggies—none of which are canned—you’ll discover thin Singapore rice noodles; mashed potatoes in olive oil and chives; fried cauliflower and even Lebanese mezza entrées like warak enab, hommos, and me7she koussa!
Check the shelf above the bar for amuse-bouche items like mini croque monsieurs and open-faced salami tartines. You’ll also want to raid the dressings bar, where aside from at least seven savory sauces, you’ll be able to stock up on jalapenos, capers, gherkins, olives, and croutons to your heart’s (and stomach’s) content!
Charles Malek Ave.
Photo via Wordpress
Crave is a master in fusion food, serving food that portrays the perfect harmony between savory and tangy, freshness and quality, presentation and appeal. Their entire menu is incomparably unique, and their salads can be found nowhere else in town! We adore the exotic shrimp number (21,500 LL), which is a lively medley of fresh pineapple and mango chunks, a generous heaping of chilled baby shrimp, leaves of arugula, and wheat berry all tossed lightly in a lime-coconut sauce.
A phyllo pastry basket, similar to a vol-au-vent, is added for a crispy and golden contrast to the colorful, soothing mess that is the salad. Best shared, which is a plus, because you’ll want to save room for Crave’s other masterpieces (did we mention the Grand Marnier crème anglaise crepes?).
Photo via googleusercontent
While The Garden is best known as a salon du thé in the heart of Beirut Souks, they have quite an impressive savory menu selection.
Their salade quinoa et volaille (22,000 LL) is as aesthetically pleasing as it is delectable. The quinoa-and-zucchini mix comes arranged in the shape of a petri dish with generous slices of chilled chicken breast layered on top, all lightly drizzled in lemon vinaigrette. While at first glance, the salad appears small and compact, once you pierce this edible mound and spread out the ingredients with your fork, less becomes more. Wash it down with a lovely French pastry like the tarte tatin from The Garden’s divine dessert display.
The Jewelery Souks, Beirut Souks Mall
Provincial in Kaslik is a godsend for salad lovers. With almost a dozen offerings, each served in copious bowls, and quite easily passable as mains in their own right, Provincial blew us away.
We adored the bresaola salad (16,000 LL), which layers five thick slices of the air-dried, salted beef atop a bed of fresh arugula leaves, cherry tomatoes, and mushrooms. Lift the bresaola and pour lemon-mustard dressing generously on the leafy mix beneath. Provincial’s welcome bread kit—piping hot French rolls, balsamic vinaigrette, grated parmesan cheese, and fresh thyme in olive oil—will win you over and round off your meal pleasurably.
Another of our favorite supergrain salads, Ginette’s Freekeh Manchego pays homage to one of Lebanon’s staple grains. The green grain is mixed with shavings of firm Spanish Manchego cheese. Bitter arugula leaves are contrasted by the sweet taste and chewy texture of date pieces.
Tossed in a white balsamic sauce, this salad is dainty, light, and healthy, for you and your wallet (12,000 LL)!
Never underestimate or belittle a salad bar inside a supermarket. TSC Signature in Beirut Souks is one exemplary gourmet house of fresh salads, juices, wood-fired pizzas, shawarma spits, a sushi conveyer, you name it! The salad bar has quickly become my favorite choice of salad, even if the bowl (a capacious one, admittedly) is non-refillable (21,500 LL).
Start with a bed of rocket leaves as a cushion for the crab sticks and marinated chicken breast slices. Add slices of turkey deli to enrich the protein fix. The cheese selection is unrivaled: blocks of yellow cheddar, flakes of Parmesan, small goat cheese balls caked in either dried thyme or red spices, and feta cubes. The croutons are not to be missed—they’re seasoned with rosemary herbs and lightly fried to a golden crispy texture. And then the onslaught of vegetables: baby corn fingers; corn kernels; cherry tomatoes; beets; cucumbers; marinated and grilled zucchini, eggplant, and bell peppers; palmito; large hearts of artichoke; asparagus; kidney beans; and a slurry of others. Walnuts, raisins, and canned pineapple slices also abound for those who seek a sweeter concoction. Be sure to drizzle lemon mustard dressing generously on top.
Once it’s delicately assembled, the ultimate test is transporting that precarious coliseum of a salad intact over to the dining area. What a feast!
photo via blogspot.com
Danielle Issa is a food blogger in Lebanon. You can find her on Twitter, and be sure to check out her blog, Beirutista.
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