I just returned from a much needed 9 day stint in Europe, namely Paris and I can honestly say that I like (dine-in) French food in Lebanon more than French food in France and yes I’m generalizing.
The bar was set pretty high during a pre-trip dinner at Prune with friends, a relatively new French Bistro that set up shop in Mar Mikhael. You can call Prune cozy or you can call it tiny, both French characteristics, perhaps intended. So reservations don’t come easy and even when they do, don’t expect leg space. Nevertheless, it adds to the charm of this busy joint even on a Monday night. I didn’t know what to expect as I didn’t do much research on Prune online but I enjoyed the mystery of it all.
We started things off with a ruby red bottle of Domaines des Tourelles, one of my favorite Lebanese wines, fruity and subtle a perfect companion for red meat.
The menu features many classic dishes one would expect a French joint to serve and every now and then the star prune makes an appearance on the menu such as the Chevre, prunes en compote, the Foie gras et chutney de Prune and the Poulet aux Prunes.
We settled for the Salade King Crab fenouil, a generous serving of succulent and fresh-as-can-be shredded crab, none of that fish imitation rubbish you’d usually expect, on a bed of crisp fenouil soaked in a delectable olive oil, lemon and what felt like paprika or sumac dressing. It was by far the best crab salad I’ve had since moving to Lebanon. And though it will set you back 38,000 LL, worth every lira.
Next, we shared the Calamars et pouples grilles. I like it when calamari tastes and feels like chicken and this one did, though my friend found it a tad over-spiced. It came with a side of more fenouil and parsley.
The waiter lured us into a breaded oven cooked Australian fillet, part of Prune’s daily special, but apologized profusely minutes later when he was informed by the chef that there were none left. I was glad that happened or else I wouldn’t have had Prune’s Award Winning Steak Frites (38,000LL), yes, I’m giving them an award for that dish, because this is not some marble piece of faux filet or bavette steak, this steak felt, tasted and fell apart like a prime filet mignon coupled with a creamy sauce unlike anything I’ve had before. It’s one of those things that you’ll remember each time you have a craving for a great steak in Beirut.
My friend had the signature Poulet aux Prunes (36,000), a very generous portion of chicken breast in a hearty comforting sauce with prunes. This dish was a perfect companion on a cold winter night though in my opinion it was missing a much needed side of carbs such as a soothing fluffy portion of mashed potatoes that I think would go wonderfully with it.
I’m ashamed to say we didn’t have any dessert, it was late in the evening and Pain Perdu isn’t exactly good for the thighs before bed, Anthony from No Garlic No Onions describes it as one of the best he’s had in Lebanon to date. I’ll definitely be heading back to try out a selection of Prune’s desserts.
Prune is about that true gastronomic experience, giving you that lovely Parisian bistro feel but with fantastic food and great service. It’s about time something of this caliber showed up.
The Prices: Dinner for 4 with bottle of wine $200
The Verdict: One of the best (if not the best) French Bistros in town
More Restaurant review HERE