If you’re planning a trip to New York City…

October 17, 2012

OMBob do I have a coupl’a tips for yoooou!

The Modern: its the restaurant at the MOMA. I’m feeling giddy just thinking about the food, wine, service and ambience. A must… if you’re ready to splurge! There’s a set menu in the “fancy” restaurant area, and I would go for wine/beverage pairing if I were you. You could also opt to hang out and eat in the bar area. More casual menu, but just as delicious!

The Americano at Hotel Americano in Chelsea – they’ve done a good job renovating this place. Americano Hotel Restaurant - day timeThe dining area is right behind the reception and serves a scrumptuous meal. I went there in the evening but I imagine, with that huge window, this place would be lots of fun during the day. In fact, I just Googled it. This is what daytime there looks like.

Forty-Four Bar & LoungeForty Four bar and lounge located at The Royalton Hotel, takes you back to the early 1980’s. What a place! I haven’t eaten there but love hanging in the bar or lounge area for a delicately made cocktail… or two…

And since four seems to be the lucky number at the moment, you must try Four Seasons Restaurant wow… oh wow… oh my Bob!! Why haven’t I heard about this place before?!! Can I live here? Please? Four Seasons Restaurant Pool Dining area

OK, I can’t begin to tell you how this place, that opened back in 1959 and was designed by Philip Johnson and Mies van der Rohe, is a celebration of the genius of creative design. As for the food, it is an exceptional culinary voyage… and I would go with pairing beverages with your food in this case too. All I can say is that you must experience this place at least once in your life. I know I’ll be experiencing it a lot more… says the hedonist in me.

The Campbell Apartment in Grand Central Station. How many times has Deedee been to Grand Central unaware of this place, and how right C was when he said, “I know you’ll love this”… Put on your flapper dress, your cloche hat, your long bead necklace and take a step back to the 1920’s! A hidden jewel of the good old times!

The Spotted Pig is always a must…. at least once a trip. Don’t forget to order the Gnudi’s… sometimes I wonder what life would’ve been like had I never tasted those succulent little balls of wonder… sigh…

Tala, this one’s been on the shelf for a while and it’s going public just for you, sweetie. Enjoy the city! I want to hear all about it!


I love how the…

February 6, 2011

Électricité du Liban dude comes to collect money when the electricity’s out!! Are these guys serious?! He actually climbed the stairs all the way up to Madame Mrad’s apartment to give her the bill! She didn’t open the door.

I also love how people who know diddly about wine end up opening wine bars! Don’t you? Deedee headed to Cru in Hamra, the second wine bar to open in Leboland, and owned by a ‘sweet’ couple who have yet to learn a lot about the wine bar business. Didn’t I tell you people that sweet just ain’t enough?! You leave me no choice and I have no mercy.

With the wonderful variety of world wine choices out there, Deedee was distressed to see a menu made up mainly of French wines. She did, however, like that they chose small local wineries for their Lebo wine selection. They actually don’t have Ksara and Kefraya on the menu, which is a refreshing change. But guys, please, “lovely and nice” may be used to describe Deedee but they’re certainly not wine descriptions, especially not in a wine bar! Baadein, how about you consider writing about the body of the wine?

While waiting for Tamatim, Deedee felt like a glass of bubbly but was outraged by the LBP 54,000 they charged for a glass of Moët & Chandon. We’re not at the Four Season here. I mean if you want to sell the stuff, you’ve got to reconsider your pricing… OR just offer a cheaper champagne by the glass!  (‘Walaw’ moment: Deedee had to teach them how to pronounce Moët… Yaani, either take it off your menu or learn how to say it).

So Deedee decided to go for a glass of Miolo Cuvée Traditional Brut, a sparkling wine from Brazil. This Chardonnay & Pinot Noir blend is produced by the champenoise method and only in exceptional years. A straw yellow color with butter and honey aroma, it has fine bubbles and is creamy on the palate with a burst of fruit and a refreshing finish. A great discovery, reasonable price-quality ratio, and Deedee’s first Brazilian bubbly. You can find it at the Joël Robuchon wine store in the new old Souks of Solidere.

When Tamatim arrived, she asked the barman what wine he would recommend… “Killo tayyeeeb”… huh? “arrib á-t-tayyeeeb”?! “Lakan áteeni kés máa sahin hummos w awarma, iza bitreed,” is almost what she said to him.

We ordered a bottle of Château Tour Seran 2003, Médoc. This French wine is a full bodied and tannic bordeaux made from a blend of 65% Merlot, and the rest Cabernet Sauvignon & Franc, and Petit Verdot. The nose on this dark ruby red is roquefort and damp earth, the palate is dark berries, black current and chocolate with a smooth velvety finish. Also from Joël Robuchon.

To nibble we had the Spinach Artichoke Dip, which was actually good but too bad about the bread they serve it with. We also ordered and looked horrifically at the Wild Mushroom Bruschetta… what in Bob’s name was that thing they served us?? I’ll spare you… and them for that matter. Just pass on that order, is all Deedee’s gotta say.

To alleviate the trauma from their minds, Deedee and Tamatim headed around the corner to Dany’s for some champagne therapy. Nothing that a few bottles of their Lanson Black Label Brut Champagne couldn’t cure. This pale yellow blend has soft bubbles and is not too acidic, with a touch of toast and honey. The palate is citrus, red berries and nuts… or were we just nuts?

It was a blast hanging out widju Tamatim!

Ya heik sufra ya bala…

December 20, 2010

…ma badda haki, atyab shi el-Libnéné… wil Armané kamein.

Deedee’s friend AL is visiting from Béreez (yaani, Paris) and a Leboland virgin. Sooooo, after dropping off the bags at Madame Mrad’s, they headed to Seza, a cute new Armenian restaurant in Mar Mikhael, (baad mafra’ el Tawlet, take the first right and walk up the street – it’s at the end of the block ál yameen). Deedee’s already been there with K & Bobba and enjoyed it. The food is good bas the service is a little off. Yaani, puhleez train your staff. They’re soooo sweet, but that’s not enough in the restaurant business.

Some of Deedee’s favorite dishes are: the red beet salad; the Itch – Armenian tabboulé; the raw meat and lentil kufta (like kibbé); the tomato salad; Su beoreg (a savory cheese mille feuille made with filo pastry); Muhammara (ground walnuts, red pepper and pomegranate molasses); Manti; Meatballs with sour cherries (a must). To drink, I prefer Arak and I pretty much recommend it, because they don’t have much of a wine list, and they neither know their wines nor how to serve them… sorry guys… stick to what you know… or train your staff!

Overall I like the feel of the place and the food isn’t bad. Seza Bistro Arménian is on Patriarch Arida Street, Mar Mikhael. For reservations: 01-570711 (closed Mondays).

The next day we toured Batroun and Byblos. You can never see enough sunsets, and I love how the color of the sun changes with every season. We sat down to watch the pale yellow planet sinking at Bab el Mina in the old port in Jbeil while sipping on a bottle of Chateau Musar Cuvée Réservée Blanc, a white made with 100% Obeidé grapes, an indigenous Lebo grape variety, light golden color, dry, light and not too acidic (which our whites tend to be). The palate is nuts, herbs and green apple, ending with lemon zest. Nothing to right home about but potable when considering the price-quality ratio on their wine list.

We ordered the Fish Kibbé, Tajin, Aubergine Salad (not wow), Calamari Provencial (soft and juicy, nice), and Batata Harra (a little too oily). Overall it’s mostly the ambience about this place that does it for me. Bab el Mina Seafood Restaurant, Byblos. For reservations: 09-540475.

Saturday we had brunch with Cha & Z at Tawlet Souk el Tayeb. Deedee’s third time since she’s been back, so yes it IS one of my favorites. Authentic, consistent quality, an intriguing variety, and service isn’t bad either… considering you’re serving yourself most of the time, as Z noted. For the brunch buffet they offer Fatteh, Foul, Eggs with Awarma (cured beef) or sumak, kibbé nayyé (raw meat with cracked wheat – burghol) yay shoo taybé, a variety of salads, mtabbal batinjén (aubergine mash), Lahmé b’ájeen, Chicken Wings à la Provencial, Grilled Meat, cheese and labné… to name a few! Think that’s enough for you? Then késs (or more) árak… dessert (if you still have room for it) w finjén ahwé at the end. Fun, highly recommended, w sahtein.

Later we headed to Tamatim’s new apartment with a bottle of Ruinard that AL had brought with her. Claiming to be the oldest house of champagne, this bottle of bubbly, straw yellow color, fine bubbles and a palate of pink grapefruit and vanilla. Later, off to Beirut Art Center for a silent auction fundraiser. They were serving Louis Roederer Champagne, which Deedee has been looking to try. Deedeelirious! All I gotta say is: Don’t Drink and Bid!

Next day, after a stroll through the ruins of Baalbeck, Deedee and AL drove to Hamra for a couple of beers and a manti at Regusto, in the Hamra Square Center. Later they dropped by Dany’s for a G&T and staggered back to Madame Mrad’s to crash.

Merci pour ta visite, ya AL, mbasatna. À bientôt!

Fout ‘azzaroubé w ‘a eedak-ishmél…

October 8, 2010

… you’ll find Dany’s Bar. Around shi 3 years now, Dany’s was one of the first to venture into the Hamra bar scene. Cocktails are good and Deedee approves cuz she knows the bartenders and where they’ve gotten their training. Sometimes the shabéb are a little too ambitious, like the time they made this Watermelon Martini, but considering how hot it was, the cocktail was quite a refreshing initiative.

Open champagne is Lanson Black Label. Not a bad choice, this non-vintage brut is made of the usual pinot noir & meunier, and chardonnay. It’s strong on the bubbles and crisp. Fun to drink a couple of glasses, but I wouldn’t have more.

There’s a live DJ (or DJette) every night. If you’re not into smoke, you can seat yourself outside on the tiny stools. Downstairs is another small “underground music” section where they’ve had a few fun gigs over the past year. I saw three of the Mashou’ Leila guys jam there one night and loved it. The Leila guys get it…

Now, even though Dany’s has a few sandwiches for you to feed on, I’d make sure I’ve had something to eat before I go there, if you know what I mean. Yaani, hashi msareen.

Dany’s is open all day and has WiFi, so you can hang out there with your laptop… or iPhone… or android! No need to reserve. Deedee’s favorite time there is in the afternoon/early evening for a drink to unwind after work. Késkon!

Niyyalkon shakilkon mitl el ajanéb…

October 2, 2010
… said the old man to Deedee and AEN when they walked into the “boutique hotel in the making” that he was guarding… haram, ‘ando WIC (yaani Western Inferiority Complex!)
We were exploring the old city in Damascus and checked out 12 of the ’boutique hotels’ that have mushroomed in the old city over the past four years. Some hotels are done with style, others trying too hard, then you’ve got some that are just ostentatious. The following could be worth a try: Beit Mamlouka (the first one and owned by a Syrian architect who was inspired while writing a book about old Damascene houses; 8 rooms); Beit Rumman (recently opened; 6 chic rooms; quaint courtyard); Talisman 1 & 2 (the fanciest and priciest of them all; large couryard with small pool to cool off in; rooms are furnished with style; and Angelina Jolie & Brad Pitt stayed there!); Beit Rose (small courtyard, 6 simple rooms, down to earth… probably where Deedee would stay). Also possibly worth trying: Hanania (7 rooms – bathrooms not too cool, iron beds, small courtyard); Dar Al Noor (opened in April 2010, medium sized courtyard, 11 rooms – some are over decorated and verging on tacky); there are lots more, bas khalas bi kaffé.

As for the grub, I wanted typical Damascene food so one night we had Hirrak Isba’ou (lentils, Quadrettini – flat square pasta, coriander, toasted bread, garlic and fried onions), a Vegetarian Kibbé stuffed with spinach or swiss chard & onions, Fatteh bi Hummous (a warm dish of  fried bread and chick peas topped with yoghurt and drizzled with pine seeds cooked in lard), Fattit Makdous (small eggplants stuffed with meat, some tomato pasty sauce, topped with yoghurt).  We also had Kibbé Nayyé (raw meat) with chopped condiments. A traditionally scrumptious meal! I fell in love with the Arak serving tray, smart and practicle, with round holes for the glasses on the rim area and a bigger one in the middle for the ice bucket! Shoo hal moufaja’a el mahdoumé?!

Can you believe the Syrians have banned smoking in restaurants? Well, “Homsi” style… yaani some places allow hubbly bubblies?!?! But in general, they got the right idea.

Went to the Four Seasons Hotel, where the woman security guard was very friendly and polite. AEN wanted to show me their XO Cigar Lounge. They banned smoking in the Cigar Lounge too, therefore… there was no one there!

Their wine list was quite impressive, so was their selection of malts and grappas/eau de vie. The sommelier they hired to put the list together knew his stuff. My favorite part was the wide selection of champagne, and to top it off, they carried most of them in half bottles!! Now how smart is that in champagne upselling!

We ordered a bottle of Beronia Rioja Reserva 2005 from Spain: a tannic deep red wine made of 90% tempranillo grapes. It carried aromas of nuts and toasted bread within its oakiness. Gentle velvety on the palate, we got deep dark red berries and ripe fruit, and a little vanilla. This bottle was sexy in a smoky way, with minerals lingering around till the finish. Good call AEN!

All good things come to an end… and they sure did when we ordered a plate of assorted cheese to go along with our Spanish Rioja. To make a long story short, the only thing that was missing on the cheese platter was La Vache qui Rit and Picon!! Naza’touha shabaab!

Kudos to the Syrians for preserving their old city… or maybe it was by accident cuz they didn’t have much of a choice ;-)!! But seriously, at least they have an old city with an authentic oriental character. Ahlein yaamo! Ma tzourounaa?

His, her, your, and…

September 6, 2010

… you guessed it: My Bar! What kind’a name is dat?! I don’t know about calling it the latest hotspot, but seems like “everybody’s” going there.

One look at their website and Deedee begged L not to put her through it. L said, “Yalla, mnitsalla.” So, Deedee dragged Madame Mrad along and we went out for a culture shock.

We had booked at the bar cuz all the tables were taken: “Sorry bas ma fee mahal illa ‘al bar”. Service was not bad. Quite a few familiar faces in terms of the service staff, so Deedee knew their backgrounds and approved. Besides, being with Deedee the girls got special attention… even the DJ came by to pay respects.

We had Edamame for starters, akeed. Then the Tuna Tartar which came on a rectangle of crispy rice, Salmon Tartar on a lettuce leaf, Salmon and Scallop sashimi, Gindara – a white fish filet drizzled with a sweet yet tangy sauce and served with a bit of seaweed on the side, the Unagi sushi was good but cold by the time it got to us, and Glasgow Salmon Maki which L said was “OK”. We devoured all that with lots of Sake!

Those few things we shared were overall satisfactory. There are a lot more items on the menu that Deedee would like try, however, how she’s going to do that is a mystery to her. Oh, I almost forgot to mention, we had the Shrimp Balls Salad which had mayo in it… a disappointment.

Sorry Khawéja, feeni ékol min doun ma iftas, please? Yaani, what’s up with men and cigars in sushi bars? I mean, don’t we all know that even in Japan they ban that phallicness in their sushi bars? Or as one bartender put it: “Iss confuzing wiz za sticks, eh?” (That’s for you, L ;-))

Overall, the place is worth a try, at least out of curiosity. For reservations: 01-999608 or 70-608999 (cheesy #’s, ma heik?)

So that’s where…

September 5, 2010

…all that noise comes from!! A and Deedee hadn’t hung out in a while and since they have the same birthday, Madame Mrad decided to take them out for a belated celebration. Driving along Riad El Solh, A asked if we’d ever been to Le Capitole Restaurant Lounge… ‘nTs’ (yaani, La’).

Located on the rooftop of the Asseily Building, Downtown Beirut,  Le Capitole is a bar, lounge, and restaurant with hanging out and dining areas indoors and outdoors on the terrace during summer.

We started up with a couple of glasses of bubbly, naturally. Their open champagne is Moët et Chandon (nice). For nibbles we ordered the Beef Carpaccio and Iceburg & Apple Salad with Roquefort dressing. Good but nothing to write home about.

The pleasant surprise came when we ordered a bottle of Chateau Bargylus from Syria!! Shoo haida? Ma bsaddi’! That’s right: SYRIA!  It’s full bodied, with a mineral, blackberry and pine tree nose, this tannic and metallic wine was so thick you could bite on it… just the way Deedee likes her reds. Slightly chilled so as not to be heavy in the summer, Bargylus is a combo of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot & Syrah and tastes of red plums, blackberries and mineral earth, with a long chocolate and velvety finish. Can’t wait to try it with game! Faja’nakun, moo?

As for the Le Capitole itself… not really Deedee’s kind of crowd. Yaani, not sure me and Madame Mrad will go there again. Besides, it turns out to be that place with the loud music which keeps me up at night! Shoo hal diversified Libnén, we have so many layers.

To each his own… aw bil Libnéné: ma ili jlédé, yistiflo.

If you want to check it out, for reservations (and believe me you need them): 01-999 339 or 70-302 402