Beirut’s been buzzing about two new hot spots conveniently situated on Mar Mikhael’s main road, BarTartine and SUD. They’re actually separate entities but share the same hidden gem of a terrace in an open court-style alley complete with small trees and beautiful stone walls. Sud also boasts a rooftop cocktail lounge.
Although it’s been open for a few months Sud’s reputation precedes it, hosting a full house during peak hours and an almost always packed guest list.
The menu is namely Mediterranean with a varied list of French, Italian and Catalan cuisine. We booked a table for four and headed down on a Saturday for lunch. I was drawn by the beautiful modern décor ,stainless steel lamps, open-style kitchen layout, bar and loved the entire look and feel of the place.
However, the staff still looked like they were adjusting to keep up with the constant traffic. An empty beer bottle seemed to have found its way right under my friend’s chair as we were seated on a table. We handed it to an apologetic waiter and then asked him to point us to the Catalan items on the menu. He sported a blank face and we knew we’d have to explore our own way.
We started things off with two Antipastos which I recommend, whole mushrooms marinated in a sweet balsamic sauce with toasted baguettes, and eggplant and black olive molasses also served on miniature toasted baguette.
We also had the Crevette Ter Mer tapa , shrimps and some fantastic little pieces of chorizo (sausage) with fresh herbs.
Next, the grilled calamari salad with artichoke hearts, porcini mushrooms, chick peas spring onions and cherry tomatoes and black olives drizzled with a lemon dressing. Although I’m a fan of grilled calamari I didn’t particularly enjoy the mix of ingredients in this dish nor did I like that the calamari tasted more boiled than grilled, as it was on the softer side of things and sported no grill marks or taste. It was missing a kick to it that just didn’t come.
My friend went for the burger that came in a fresh bun and medium-sized patty. The meat seemed freshly ground as the soft patty fell apart with every bite however I didn’t particularly enjoy the spice mix used and the very thin cheese that seemed processed as it sat unmoved and un-melted. It was good but didn’t move me the way a gourmet burger should.
My other friend went for the Risotto-style saffron paella which was absolutely delicious both visually and sensory with its scrumptious shrimp and fresh mussels. This dish is a definitive must-have for anyone who’s a fan of this traditional Valencian dish.
My man went for the Salt Baked Sea Bass, which came in its full fish form in a hard crust cover that exposed a soft white flesh when cracked. It came with a side of sautéed potatoes. It was good but bland and slightly over-cooked for my taste.
I had the Linguine Aux Crevette , a pasta dish of sautéed shrimps, shredded courgettes, green beans, cherry tomatoes, pepercino in a tomato sauce. And again it was good, it hit the spot, but it was missing something more, a flavor that would set this place apart from the rest and mark it’s gastronomic stamp on the scene, but again it failed to deliver.
However, whatever flavors Sud lacked in the savory department, it made up in its dessert menu. The delectable glazed Pain Perdu left me in a trance topped with a heavenly scoop of vanilla ice cream from the ice cream connoisseurs over at Oslo.
We washed the meal down with some a foamy rich cappuccino.
I found that Sud’s prices are very reasonable compared to the other restaurants in town with appetizers ranging from $5 to $15 and main dishes ranging from $18-$30 so a meal for four with soft drinks without dessert would total to around $120.
I will definitely be back for to Sud’s rooftop soon for some of those promising cocktails. Have you been?