The Best of Beirut
on Dec 29, 2014 By Danielle Issa
As 2014 comes to a close, let’s take a few moments to lay praise to the awesome meals we were privileged to tuck in to this year. Now we all know that dining choices in Beirut are hardly scant, and many restaurants are not only passably good but ineffably delicious. But print is costly, and your time is costlier.
So here’s an ode to our five favorite feasts in 2014. Keep your phone handy—if you haven’t gorged on these meals yet, you’ll want to book a table ASAP!
La Petite Maison exudes luxury and simplicity all at once. The Niçoise-cuisine restaurant situated on the first floor of Le Vendome is home to a supreme tomato-infused martini, the tomatini, which will animate your taste buds in no time. Order the aubergine grillée, mozzarelle et crevettes au pistou for a mouthwatering casserole layering grilled eggplant, melted cheese, pesto and a crown of seasoned shrimp.
The canard à l’orange features a slow-cooked duck slathered in a tangy orange glaze accompanied by braised cabbage. Surreal.
If you’re on the prowl for a jazzed up Lebanese dining experience complete with innovative Lebanese dishes and exceptional black-tie service, Em Sherif is your answer. The dinner formule commands a parade of 37 dishes representative of the Levant. You’ll fall in love with the bite-size manakish offered as an amuse-bouche; the pickled stuffed eggplant and cabbage rolls; the spicy walnut mhammara; and the succulent grilled meats. Though nearly impossible, save room for dessert, particularly the Um Ali: an Egyptian-inspired bread pudding served hot with sweetened milk, cream, raisins, and coconut.
Victor Hugo Street
The newly-reopened La Parrilla has been attracting Lebanon’s seasoned carnivores and gourmands since 2007, and for good reason. Their Argentinian-style steaks are easily the most succulent cuts of beef you will ever sink your canines into. Order the lomo (filet) medium-rare or medium, and admire how the meat gives at every gentle swipe of the knife. The plate emerges from the kitchen piping hot, as the beef continues to cook while sizzling delightfully near a mountain of diced, pan-fried mushrooms. Pair it with the essentials: sautéed green beans, mashed potatoes and La Parrilla’s herby house sauce. Congratulations: you may now lead a happy existence.
Saint Maron Street
Fromages and Fridays
No place spells luxury, premium service, and damn good steaks like Four Season’s The Grill Room. The new menu is decidedly simple, exactly as it should be, with seven salads, seven appetizers, and then the stars of the show: USDA prime tenderloin and rib eye, Australian wagyu and Black Angus cuts, French Charolaise and a few pescetarian offerings. For the omnivores, there’s an array of sides and veggies to round out the meal. Slice into the filet mignon, tender to the touch and packing a depth of flavor in its juices. For a bit of oomph, accompany each bite with fresh roasted garlic that comes as garnish on your plate. Warning: the starter bread loaf, served hot out of the oven in its steel tray, is deliriously good, but don’t let it stuff you!
Four Seasons Hotel
Who’d have thunk that a seriously renowned Italian fashion designer could also take on a café-restaurant whose cuisine is first-rate, inventive, and overwhelmingly scrumptious? Cavalli Caffè by the ever-esteemed Roberto Cavalli has a rich menu ranging from bruschettone and pizza to pasta and risotto. Head blindly for the gnocchi, soft and buttery pillows of potato and flour basking in a silky gorgonzola cheese and truffle sauce. Close the meal with chestnut tiramisu in a martini glass—cheers to decadent, rum-soaked desserts!
24 Park Avenue
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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