Tag Archives: food

A Night At Monte Cassino Hotel

Out of the hundreds of hotels that have set up camp in the Maameltein and Tabarja area, less than a handful are actually decent enough to recommend, in service, quality and reputation. So when Monte Cassino invited my man and I to be amongst the first guests to stay at this hotel which opened its doors back in June, we were taken aback by the grandiose establishment situated only a stone’s throw away from the landmark, Casino du Liban.

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Monte Cassino is a luxury boutique hotel in Tabarja with an exterior that somewhat resembles a private Italian villa, with impressive pillars and a renaissance feel to it. The hotel boasts 12 opulent suites overlooking the magnificent Jounieh Bay with unobstructed views reminiscent of the Amalfi coast; steep green mountainous terrain and tranquil turquoise waters. Each suite is exquisitely designed for both comfort and convenience and also features its very own Jacuzzi either within the lavish washroom or right in the center of the suite. I was also pleasantly surprised to find that toiletries included one of my favorite ranges from The Body Shop.

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After checking in to our room we made our way down to the Tulip Lounge for some fine dining. We kicked things off with glass of Chardonnay and a sumptuous dish of Beef Carpaccio on a bed of rocca with a lemon mustard dressing. I especially enjoyed the breaded calamari on some hommus, which I thought was a rather lovely twist to an otherwise classic dish. For mains I had a divine cut of Filet Mignon cooked to seamless medium-rare with a side of grilled vegetables and some splendid potato gratin. I also got to taste the orange salmon with a side of fluffy Basmati rice which I would recommend if fish is your thing.

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We enjoyed more drinks on the lobby terrace before heading to Monte Casino’s new rooftop, SWAY, an effortlessly chic bar, lounge and pool area with a magnificent unrivalled 180 degree view of Jounieh and its surroundings. Just then the much –anticipated annual firework show began to mark the commencement of the Jounieh International Festival and let me tell you, we never before had the chance to experience it from what felt like a front-row seat. The rooftop began to get busier as more guests arrived and the DJ began playing some of the season’s hottest tunes as we were offered more drinks and danced the night away under the stars.

monte cassino sway 1ivy says dana at monte casino

Following a great night’s sleep we had a continental breakfast in a glamorous area which happened to be my personal favorite, furnished in chic denim 50’s style. Most of the guests headed back to the rooftop pool which is open all week for those who want to soak up the sun.

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There’s no doubt Monte Cassino will be at last upping the game in Jounieh, bringing much-needed elegance, standards and all-star service to a mediocre area that is seriously lacking in all three. All the while remaining effortless and elegant with none-of-that over-the-top tacky nonsense. It’s a true boutique hotel with a unique character that if remains meticulously managed at the same level will be raising the stakes.

More Reviews:

A Sunday Lunch On “The Terrace”

The Roof, Four Season’s Über-Fabulous Lounge

Sydney’s at Le Vendôme Beirut

La Serre Bistro, Vida Downtown, Dubai

La Petite Maison Beirut

Shiseido Day Spa

 

 

 

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My Top 12 Favorite Things This Summer

1. Lazy B 11 lazy b If you like to go to the beach to actually tan and chill rather than see and be seen, then you need to be in Lazy B in Jîyé this summer. It’s quiet, it’s hippy it’s earthy and super colorful. Every little inch is an Instagram photo opp and it also has one of the cleanest freshest coldest natural salt water lagoons you will see in Lebanon. But be warned service is also lazy.

2. Deek Duke Chicken Press Burger 8 press burger by deek duke

You have to allow yourself Deek Duke’s orgasmic Chicken Press Burger at least once ( though I doubt it will end there) A beautiful golden breaded three-cheese mix patty sits atop a juicy chunky grilled chicken breast and together they make little bites of love. And if that makes you feel guilty just do what I did, order it with a diet coke and a baked potato.(it’s all in the head) Deek Duke is now also open at City Mall Dora.

3. Adidas Originals X Farm

adidas FIFA FARM sneakers brazil

The 2014 FIFA World Cup may be over, but these babies are here to stay. For the second time around, Adidas has collaborated with the iconic Brazilian label The FARM Company to bring us this colorful carnival of vibrant and exotic colors. Adidas sent them over just in time for the finale and although Brazil lost miserably these sneakers definitely won!

4. Helado Ice Cream9 Helado ice cream in sahel alma

Literally a hidden gem in the crooked and curvy streets of Sahel Alma. Anthony from No Garlic No Onions was the first to discover this homemade ice cream parlor that’s been around for more than 15 years. It’s always swarmed with people and the average wait can last up to 30 minutes but it’s totally worth it. Helado is the only spot in Lebanon to serve real flavors like Lotus Biscuit, Lebanese Wine, Knefe, and my personal favorite Framboise. This is not your average stretchy gooey Lebanese Ice Cream, this local spot gives Ben and Jerry’s a run for their money. Totally worth the ride.

5. Maybelline New York Brazen Beige 732 Lipstick

3 maybelline new york beige brazen lipstick

Although most of us may shy away from heavy lipsticks and opt for light lip glosses when the temperatures are rising, you’ll be surprised how barely-there this Maybelline NY lipstick feels. It’s my go-to shade with my tan and has a versatile shade that works both day and night.

6. Iftars

iftars 1

Having been born and raised in the UAE, Iftars were never just for adamant fasters, they were a part of the diverse culture, and became a wonderful social tradition that brought family friends together every day during Ramadan. So to keep the tradition alive I make sure they begin with my favorite two things, a hearty bowl of Lentil Soup and an amazing chilled glass of Ayran ( Laban Yogurt Drink) and then I go on to massacre the buffet.( Thank you Le Ciel at Habtoor for the amazing Iftar yesterday)

7. Bonbon by Viktor & Rolf7 bonbon by victor and rolf

Sweet, delicious, decadent and feminine are just a few words to describe this newly launched fragrance by Viktor and Rolf. This light caramel-based scent is one of those perfumes that smells even better after an hour or two making it ideal for summer. If you like candy then I have no doubt you would enjoy Bonbon.

8. Louboutin Iriza Pumps

louboutin so kate

The So Kates and Pigalles are wonderful classics but in my quest for the perfect classic Louboutin black pumps this summer I loved the sultry and open-sided design of the Iriza because they allow your foot to breath in this super hot weather. If you’re having trouble finding your size ( both Beirut and Paris are usually sold out) then you will be surprised to find a surplus of sizes at Dubai Mall.

9. Crop Tops

12 crop tops

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. The beauty of crop tops is that you don’t have to have a Bündchen belly to be able to wear one. You can minimize/control mid-riff exposure by simply wearing a high waist skirt or shorts and it will keep you cool and refreshed in the scorching heat.

10. Abd El Wahab

abdel wahab

I used to order their Plat Du Jour almost every day for 4 years when I was working full-time. Having earned it’s rank as one of the best Lebanese restaurants in Lebanon, Abd El Wahab never fails with its classic oriental decor and heavenly mezza. I was very proud to celebrate their 15 anniversary with them last month on their gorgeous terrace and will be back for an Iftar or two this summer.

11. Bonita Bay6 tanning

Bonita Bay is one of Batroun’s landmarks and one of those places that never fails to attract sunshine even when Jounieh is looking bleak and grey. I’ve been adamant about getting a tan this summer and there was something about the way the sun hit Bonita Bay that made it ideal for tanning. The only downside is that it’s not a sandy beach but rather a pebbled one, so be prepared to see a lot of people trip and fall as well as some embarrassing moments of your own.

12. Passion Fruit Body Butter by The Body Shop

2 body shop body butter passion fruit

My friends and I used to drench our skin in this rich good stuff after hours of soaking up the harsh UAE sun. It’s actually one of the all-time favorites from The Body Shop because no matter what those after-sun products say, nothing can help sooth a sun burn like this intensive shea butter tub. It will last for months on end and will leave your skin looking moisturized for hours and hours after use. I’ve tried it in coconut, mango, olive, papaya and strawberry but my favorite hands down is the purple Passion Fruit one.

 

More Relates Articles

20 Problems Every Girl Will Face This Summer

8 Things To Avoid Doing At The Beach This Summer

The 8 Must-Have Items in Your Closet This Summer

7 Things Not To Do At Weddings This Summer

 

 

 

Ivy Reviews: La Petite Maison Beirut

It’s true, over the past couple of years Beirut has been flooded with French Bistros, but the same doesn’t apply to authentic French restaurants serving gourmet French cuisine. In fact it may come as a surprise to know that there are a very few restaurants in Lebanon that specialize in serving French chic food, not the usual suspects that we see on almost every menu today and that’s what the renowned La Petite Maison Beirut brings to the table.

I reviewed La Petite Maison Dubai back in March 2013 and mentioned rumors of it’s opening in Beirut, and not long after that it did at Le Vendôme Beirut, one of my favorite hotels in Lebanon. For those not familiar, this top-notch spot started off at Old Nice in France and has a very popular branch in London. The place embodies the gastronomic spirit of the Côte d’Azur and neighboring Liguria.

Most of us associate French cuisine with dense/creamy/ buttery food, a meal that sits heavy on the belly, but you’ll be more than happy to know that conception is a far cry from the culinary concept La Petite Maison (LPM) is all about. LPM’s entire menu contains very little if not any cream and instead a vast selection of healthy Provençal flavorsome ingredients inspired by fresh and seasonal local produces.

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After a busy work week my man and I made our way down for an extended intimate dinner to de-stress at LPM. The décor is the envy of many newcomers looking to emulate its effortlessly sophisticated setting with its open-plan kitchen, banquettes and round tables. And of course their signature olive oil, tomato and lemon trio that sit on each table.

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As you’ve probably noticed by now, we’re big fans of trying out new signature cocktails, especially when introduced to new flavors tastefully mixed to perfection by tier-one Mixologists. And so the feast kicked off with LPM’s own quirky take on the classic Bloody Mary and crowd-pleaser, the famous Tomatini, made with cherry tomatoes; a perfect balance of vodka and spices. My man had the Le Mans a superb champagne based cocktail with lemon juice. We also tried the Spring Tea, Twinkle and Manhattan Plum ( my personal favorite) all of which I highly recommend you experience.

La Petite Maison Beirut 4

The tables at LPM are designed for sharing, so if you really want to take the full tour I suggest you share as many appetizers as you can before you get to the mains. The starter list is immense and it was very hard make a decision so we may have slightly over-indulged although we had no regrets whatsoever.

Let me start by gushing over the splendid Grilled Aubergine with Mozzarella, Prawns and Pesto. I’ve never before had this magical combination of gentle flavors with prawns but I can attest that it was absolutely heavenly. A must-try.

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Next up were the warm prawns with olive oil and though I always order this dish I can’t begin to describe how succulent the pink large juicy tiger prawns were, split right in the middle with just the right crispness on the outside and seamlessly soft texture inside with a burst of flavors in every bite.

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We also had the uber fresh Yellowtail Tuna Carpaccio , made exclusively for LPM Beirut, garnished with pickled pepper and aubergine.

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And the Fried Calamari, a bowl of hot curls of crisped squid with one of the best batters I’ve tried in a very long time and a vigorous taste of spice. At first I was a little disappointed when I noticed it didn’t come with a dip but as I took in each piece I understood it would be a scandal to cover up those salacious flavors.

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I also thoroughly enjoyed the light and refreshing thinly stripped Marinated Salmon with Pink Peppercorn.

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Sharing also applies to the mains. We had the Canard a L’Orange, slow cooked Duck Legs with a tangy orange glaze. I tend to like my duck confit style but this one was wonderfully seared and the sweetness combined with the tender meat that immediately fell from the bone made me fall for this classic festive dish.

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But the Grilled Rib Eye Steak made quite the impression, a glorious chunk of simply seasoned tender marble beef sliced into strips to expose its rosy interiors and paired with a strong mustard sauce and a relish dip.La Petite Maison Beirut 16. JPG

For sides we had the Baked Gratinated Potatoes, which were an absolute delight and of course fries, thick, spiced identical fresh cut fries that provided the much needed carb compliment to go with the meats.

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The desserts were a masterclass. I discovered my now all-time favorite dessert , not that my list was lacking or anything. The fresh berry Panna Cotta. No this is not your average Panna Cota, trust me. This one’s adapted to Lebanon by using our traditional Laban (yogurt) instead and let’s just say this is the only part of the meal where you will not want to share. Each spoonful will be followed by some gushing sounds you didn’t know you could make, so you can imagine how we weren’t all that discreet.

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We also tried refreshing the Passion Fruit and Mango Posset, a superb fragrant grouping of chilled zesty posset with warm fruits that work so well together with just the balance of savory and sweet.

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La Petite Maison Beirut does not kid when it dubs itself “Tous célèbres ici !”

It translates into “Everyone is Famous here” and that’s just a prelude to the VIP treatment you will receive. Friendly, knowledgeable and attentive, are just three of a list of many adjectives I can use to rate the service we experienced.

I know I’ll be back to La Petite Maison Beirut for casual business lunches, dinner and drinks with friends or even a reason to celebrate. A three-course dinner and drinks for two will average up to $90-$120 per person.

Verdict: Hands down, the chicest French Food and Restaurant in town with the best Panna Cotta in the region.

Rumour Has It: It may be opening its doors in Istanbul soon and I look forward to reviewing it there as well!

 

More Reviews

La Petite Maison Dubai

La Serre Bistro Dubai

Sydney’s at Le Vendôme Beirut

Prune French Bistro

Métropole Brasserie

SUD

BarTartine

Couqley

 

 

 

 

Ivy Reviews Dubai’s Latest Hot Spot; La Serre Bistro

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Whenever La Serre  is mentioned in Dubai, most people quickly associate and compare it to LPM (La Petite Maison) one of Dubai’s most coveted restaurants located at DIFC which I reviewed last year here.

That’s because the resemblance between the two is strikingly similar and it’s not really a coincidence. The common denominator in this case happens to be Chef Izi Ani who left LPM to open up Dubai’s latest hot spot; La Serre Bistro and Boulangerie.

Located in the trendy new Vida Downtown boutique hotel, La Serre boasts two floors in what looks like a glass box from outside, a traditional Parisian boulangerie on the ground floor which opens up early morning to serve freshly-baked breads, viennoiserie and a light breakfast menu and a fancier bistro and bar on the first floor serving Nicoise/Mediterranean cuisine.

On a recent trip to Dubai, I had dinner at Le Serre on a Wednesday evening and the place was packed. The interior is gorgeous, an open marble-clad kitchen looks out at a sea of fancy diners in a white crisp setting with a serene feel to it, and a very chatty ambiance. And just like LPM, a tomato, a citrus and a bottle of olive olive oil await you on your table as well as a very busy and difficult-to-catch waiter who barely has time to greet you before he’s ushered away.

la serre dubai

We had a couple of vodkas and a few fabulous lychee martinis at the bar so we decided to share an array of our favorite appetizers as we continued to sip on our drinks. The Burrata and Tomatoes was the first to make its debut, a generous serving of creamy cheese topped with ripe cherry tomatoes and a serving of basil.

la serre burrata

Next the splendid goat cheese with cherry tomatoes, hazelnut and subtle chilli, a specialty and preferred amongst La Serre regulars.

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We also opted for a French classic, the Lentil salad with pickled vegetables which I thought gave this otherwise typical dish a lovely kick.

The Quinoa salad with confit duck legs and clementine was a real treat, a bright and colorful salad in a light citrusy dressing.

la serre quinoa

But the grilled prawns deserved the chapeau bas, marinated in abundant garlic and rosemary with crunchy toasted sour bread. Perfect.

la serre shrimps

We over-indulged on the appetizers so decided to share the mains, The Cepes Risotto was one of the best I’ve had to date, intense cepes in a creamy rose sauce and pungent Parmesan garnished and cooked to absolute perfection. The portion however was quite stingy.

la serre risotto

And the Lamb Cutlets Provencal lived up to their hype and demanded respect as they made their way to our table, two glistening thick, juicy, succulent and ridiculously tender chops.

la serre lamb cutlets

I’m afraid there was no room for dessert, especially since we moved on to the bar for some more post-dinner drinks. Unlike our waiter, the bartenders were patient, something that often lacks at much-coveted gastronomic powerhouses like this one.

Verdict: La Serre definitely gives La Petite Maison a run for its money, though Dubai without a doubt has the clientele and demand to withstand more than one premium culinary bistro. Perfect for a romantic date, business dinner or a birthday treat with friends. It’s worth the visit to Vida Downtown and if you’re not up for dinner then you can also brunch in the guest garden.

la serre dubai vida

More Restaurant Reviews

La Petite Maison Dubai

Sydney’s at Le Vendôme Beirut

Prune French Bistro

Métropole Brasserie

SUD

BarTartine

Couqley

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

 

 

Ivy Reviews: Prune French Bistro

prune

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.

of Domaines des Tourelles,  Prune

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.

Prune Bistro King Crab salad

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.

Prune Bistro Calamari

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.

Steak Frites Prune Bistro

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.

Poulet Prune Bistro

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

 

 

Ivy Reviews: Sydney’s at Le Vendôme Beirut

sydneys table

Perched atop of Le Vendôme’s glassed rooftop is Sydney’s, one of Beirut’s longstanding hotspots following a recent refurbishment .

Home to stunning unrivaled views overlooking Beirut’s glistening Manara strip, this upscale yet warm spot caters to all tastes; private luxurious lounge areas for the Cuban cigar aficionados, a grandiose oak bar complete with a rare selection of cognacs and malt whiskies and a collection of the sassiest cocktails in the city for someone like me. Sydney’s has also managed to attract almost every foodie in town and rightfully so, all thanks to its diverse international menu featuring some universal favorites, from tacos to tenderloins .

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Last Wednesday my man and I were treated an unforgettable four course meal that courted our taste buds and challenged our intake capacity.

The Drinks

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We kicked things off with two of Sydney’s 7 Wonder Cocktails. My man who’s a big fan of mojitos had the fabulously refreshing Apple Mojito made with Zapaca rum and apple sour liqueur while I went with an obvious choice, the Earl Grey Fizz a genius mix of homemade tea syrup and Yellow Label Veuve Cliquot, both spot-on.

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We nibbled on some complimentary Edamame and Grissini as we sipped on our drinks.

The Food

For starters we shared Sydney’s Burrata served with juicy Heirloom tomatoes and basil, it was just right, the outer shell was a nice firm Mozzarella with a soft rich and creamy textured interior.

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We also had the lovely Lentil salad with some string beans and asparagus in a balsamic dressing and the Fresh Artichokes and String Bean salad, a combination we both never had before, it was an interesting first, with the grilled cauliflower and fried white onion rings though I wasn’t a big fan of the chestnuts.

Next we had two signature dishes that put Sydney’s on the map, the first being the succulent Raviolis de cèpes, with grilled wild pleurotes in a delectably rich mushroom sauce.

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It paved the way for the best, yes the BEST authentic club sandwich in the city. Layers of juicy sliced chicken, crisp bacon, hard boiled eggs with a secret basil mayonnaise sauce in 3 pairs of toasted cereal bread and a side of Parmesan fries.

photo 1As for mains we shared the Beef Tenderloin fit for a king and grilled to absolute perfection, seared on the outside and just perfectly pink and supple on the inside with a side of fresh vegetables and an exquisite sauce.

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We also split the Pan-fried Salmon with coucous and white organic quinoa salad served with a dollop of pesto sauce. The salmon was lovely but all in all this entire dish was slightly plain and dry for my liking, I tend to enjoy this particular fish drenched in sweeter sauces.

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The Dessert

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Dessert presented a dilemma; we couldn’t get ourselves to eat a sight so pretty. So for a while we just stared. I finally gathered the courage to dip my spoon and crack into the Strawberry Comfit Crème Brûlée Tartlet that tasted it exactly how it looked. Decadent.

If you love caramelized pineapples and real vanilla ice cream don’t miss out on the The Pinapple Feuillette.

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And finally Sydney’s innovative take on the Baba au Rhum, two cute little babas generously soaked in none other than Cointreau and served with fluffy whipped cream.

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The Service

Impeccable. Customer is still king at Sydney’s. Yes, most five star establishments are renowned for their grade A service but let’s just say Le Vendome goes that extra mile; attentive staff, well-rounded waiters who tend to your every need without making you even feel they’re there and a whole hearted smile from just about everyone.

The Prices

Now here’s the part that will surprise you. The prices are reasonable to the extent where an appetizer costs roughly the same as it would in any mid-range restaurant in Beirut such as Casper and Gambini or Metropole, except this is one of Lebanon’s most exclusive 5 star hotels. Nothing that would break bank. The lentil salad or quinoa for example goes from (23,000 to 28,000LL) while pasta or risotto costs between (28,000 and 36,000) and the salmon is 49,000. A meal for two with appetizers and drinks can cost anywhere from 60$ to $75 per person.

The Verdict

Lives up to it’s hype and exceeds exceptions. I’m looking forward to trying out their popular brunch as well.

Enjoyed this review? Click here for more

 

 

 

 

 

Ivy Reviews: Métropole Brasserie

Métropole Brasserie located in Downtown Beirut (right by Porsche) is supposed to be somewhat of an upscale restaurant and so naturally you would expect grade A service especially when the head waiter insists on playing the role of a Parisian chef de rang. And so yes, when you’re greeted with that sort of ambiance/attitude naturally your expectations are somewhat high.

We were a table of 11 celebrating a friend’s birthday, and things seemed to be going smoothly as we started out with a classic selection of  appetizers you would usually find in a French Bistro and they were delicious.

The juicy sautéed calamari with parsley and garlic was cooked just right, not a hint of seafood almost like I was having  tender chicken.

calamari Metropole

For salmon lovers I recommend this fresh Salmon Tartar garnished with sliced radish and purslane.

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The Lentil Salad was my least favorite as it was dry (barely any dressing) and slightly boring, I would have much rather they added at least one other ingredient like Arugula or some raisins.

Lentil Salade Metropole

I particularly enjoyed chèvre salad, as I don’t usually enjoy goat cheese but this one was not pungent and the cheese was perfectly toasted on the bread centered with crisp red lettuce leafs.

chevre salade metropole

The Mozzarella and tomato salad was refreshing garnished with fresh basil, and sprinkled with olive oil and a side of ripe sliced avocado, though I feel they could be slightly more generous with the cheese.

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And finally the Lobster Quinoa salad was a real treat and though I never had cold lobster I actually enjoyed this one very much as it was cooked to perfection and the quinoa added just the right amount of crunch to the combination.

photo 3As for the main dishes three of us had the  Filet Mignon which you can’t usually go wrong with it came with a side of buttered green beans. Now here is when things began to go wrong, this filet was supposed to come with a side of fries that didn’t arrive with the dish, we had  to remind the waiters twice who also ended up forgetting to present us with the sauce until we were halfway through our meal.

Filet Metropole

My man had the burger which although was presented so nicely, truly disappointed. It felt like one of those you could easily make at home as the patty was way too thin, tasted too processed like it was pre-prepared and frozen, none of that soft and tender minced meat texture you would  would expect from a top-notch French joint with a measly slice of cheese and a thick uneven slice of tomato. I definitely wouldn’t recommend anything about this burger.

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My friend had the Beef Stroganoff with a sauce that both resembled paprika-colored watery sauce and tasted like nothing really. None of that thick creamy goodness you would expect from a Stroganoff and hardly any mushrooms.

Stroganoff Metropole

The service was mediocre to say the least. Staff seemed disheveled with their tasks and it took waiters an exceptionally long time to get something as simple as a soft drink or even extra cutlery.  By the end of the meal we began to feel frustrated with the service and complained. The head waiter/ manager paid us a visit and told him about our experience.

He didn’t apologize but rather explained to us that “this usually doesn’t happen” and that he “will look into it”  but he didn’t seem very sympathetic either. We were clearly dissatisfied with his response and began discussing our dismay in an obvious manner at this point. But it was only after we ordered the bill that he finally greeted us at the door and apologized. To be frank, it was a little too late he had already lost us.

You can have the best food in town, but with poor service and even some attitude it’s pretty hard for customers to focus on anything else, and in a depreciating economy like ours, you would like to think that businesses would strive harder to retain customers. Apparently not at Métropole.

View all Restaurant Reviews HERE

Ivy Reviews: BarTartine

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BarTartine. Even if you haven’t been yet, you’ve most likely come across the name by now. This latest hotspot has built quite the hype for itself and understandably so, since it’s managed to snatch one of THE prime locations in town. Think Mar Mikhael, an isolated beautiful outdoor court yard and a smoking terrace. (shared with SUD)

From the folks who brought you Zaatar w Zeit comes BarTartine, a casual restaurant, with laid-back and no fuss items on the menu such as soups, salads, and freshly baked sandwiches, thanks to its own little bakery located right down the steps on the main road below.

We were lucky enough to get a table outside on a busy Saturday lunch hour as management informed us we couldn’t reserve in advance by phone. Staff were quite helpful and well-informed about the menu. We had burned our fair share of calories that day and so it felt well-deserved to stalk up on the appetizers. I was a little disappointed that soups weren’t being served just yet (November) since I’d usually order a soup in Europe mid-July with no problem.

Luckily I got the chance to sink my choppers in two of the most amazing hearty Quiches I’ve had in Lebanon so far. The first was a chèvre (goat cheese) quiche with roasted cherry tomatoes on a fresh warm flaky buttery pastry that took it to the next level and though I’m not usually a fan of the pungent goat cheese, this one was one of the creamiest and smoothest experiences with this cheese I’ve experienced to date. Delightful.

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The second Quiche served that day was one very similar to the Quiche Lorraine, closed-topped with a ham and cheese in a creamy béchamel sauce. The glutton inside me just wished they were a tad bigger especially for sharing; one bite will not be enough, trust me.

IMG_0240Next we had another one of my latest obsessions, the Ricotta Croquettes, they put mozzarella sticks to shame, served with a fantastic fresh marinara sauce. These should be renamed Bites of Heaven.

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Finally as part of my everlasting quest for the best burger, I decided to go with the Lean and Mean Burger topped with Camembert cheese and caramelized onions in a homebaked bun. Though I loved the concept and the effort put into it, I didn’t love the actual burger, the main reason being the patty.

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The beef was cooler than I prefer and tasted like the kind you would have at a local Lebanese cafeteria, regardless of the sophisticated Camembert or onions, which most of the time dominated the taste of the meat, and we all know a successful patty would never allow that to happen. But when I actually could taste the patty it reminded me of a soggy kafta trying to be a burger, I’m not quite sure if it was due the spice mix (or lack of) used but it just didn’t make it in my book of burgers. It was also not solid enough to hold itself together along with the bun, which although was uber fluffy and fresh, couldn’t keep up with all the ingredients and fell apart half way through, obliging me to eat the rest of it using cutlery. And though it wasn’t a bad burger per se, for (around $19) 28,000 LL and with class act burgers popping up all over town, there is no room for mediocre burgers in this city. So no it’s not one of their fortes. But the fries and sweet coleslaw were fantastic!

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Though I won’t be visiting BarTartine for the burger again, I will definitely be paying this joint a visit to taste and review the rest of their baked items, including the pizza and baked desserts.

Price: 2 course meal for two with soft drinks should cost around $55-$70

What’s you favorite item at BarTartine?

More Reviews HERE

Cooking With Maggi at The Beirut Cooking Festival

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As some of the people who’ve been following this blog early on know, not only am I a major foodie, I’m actually also obsessed with cooking.  Yes I’m a woman of many talents.

And although slaving over a hot oven may not sound like the sexiest thing in the world it is actually one of my most loved pastimes.

So when Maggi Arabia invited me to cook this week at the Beirut Cooking Festival I was over the moon. On Friday November 8 and 9 from 12-2pm. I’ll be over at the Maggi stand whipping up a storm at the live cooking station. I’m not going to tell you what’s on the menu at the Cooking Festival just yet but I will share a quick and easy one I prepared in my own kitchen.

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This is one of my favorite dishes called Chicken Parmigiana that I used to prepare during the cold winter days in Toronto, comfort food at its best. The dish is essentially comprised of breaded baked chicken breast that you can prepare from scratch with breadcrumbs or ready-made ones that you can get from your local grocery store. But the secret lies in the sauce.  I usually use a box of strained tomatoes and then add in a couple of pureed fresh ones. I cook it over the stove with some olive oil, sautéed garlic and onions with a dash of honey and oregano and then add in two cubes of Maggi Chicken Stock, this is what will transform the otherwise bland sauce and give it a real hearty kick.

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When the breaded chicken is cooked, I’ll just pour the tomato sauce over them in a shallow casserole and top it off with a very generous portion of Parmesan and Mozzarella cheese, finally I’ll throw it back into the over again until the cheese gets golden.

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Garnish with some oregano and enjoy!

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See you at the Beirut Cooking Festival!

Mes Obsessions Du Jour

IMG_6136 mbco mushroom soupIMG_6029marc jacobs keychainIMG_6027napoletanaIMG_5850 BalthazarIMG_5741kara ross IMG_6138 furla and i totela curela cure gourmande caramel nougatIMG_5849betseyFollow me on Instagram instagram

More Obsessions HERE