And just when you thought it was over…

March 29, 2011

…well, “it ain’t over till the fat lady sings” and so, Deedee’s back to the Battle of the Burgers…. teeheehee… after all, there still hasn’t been concensus on who wins the Leboland Burger Battle.

Deedee, Princess and Smayyiss went to lunch at Mrs. Robinson’s in the An-Nahar Building, Downtown. Ooooh… Why do these places do that? I don’t get it? I’m afraid Deedee’s going to have to open up a can of whoop-ass, cuz these guys earned it.

The place wasn’t packed, so we got the attention we needed. The waiter was friendly and insisted we try some of his favorites, so we had the Cheesy Chips: basically potato chips with melted cheddar and provologne (?)… it’s sort of like wanabe nachos but without the fun stuff. Yaani, in other words skip it.

Deedee had the large size patty, classic with Swiss cheese. It was dry and a disappointment to bite into. I won’t go further in trashing this place, and I definitely won’t go back there for a second try. They lost me at “goodbye”… (ref. the antonym quote for that famous line in Jerry Maguire).


Geez, I almost feel guilty…

February 26, 2011

…writing this one. I’ve got to admit the “gang” at Burger Nation were welcoming, friendly and well trained, but… Ooooh, this is gonna be a big “BUT”… “nice” just isn’t enough! I feel like a broken record, people!

OK, so PS, Princess, Warnink, and Deedee went to Burger Nation to find out what all the rave’s about. It was evening but Deedee frantically searched for her darkest pair of sunglasses cuz this place is lit brighter than those sterile rooms you see in Alien movies on TV! I mean, talk about feeling like you’re “in the spotlight”! People, what happened to ambience? Cozy not a word in your dictionary? If I ever go back – just cuz Deedee’s fair and usually gives a second chance (except to Classic Burger Joint, akeed), it’s gonna have to be during the day with my shades on to avoid the glaring light!

We sat down, got our menus and were handed a “Make your own Burger” form, which is actually cool, cuz you’re not just stuck with the menu items. They get kudos for this thought. We were told, Burger Nation serves ‘Chilled’ Angus meat from Tasmania, Oz. The waitress took our order. Deedee asked for the BN Burger medium rare, as usual. When Deedee’s burger arrived it looked interesting: blue cheese, the onions were caramalized, the patty was thick and the buns looked fresh… then she took her first bite and turned into the Tasmanian Devil! That meat was raw beyond medium rare. Guys… you gotta learn how to cook your burger patties. A medium rare burger is not Steak Tartar! Besides, you need to serve the food warm. I can’t eat a burger that’s warm on the outside and cold inside… it’s called technique! Figure it out!

Warnink had their regular burger – medium. His burger was cooked closer to a medium rare. The meat is OK, but he wasn’t too thrilled. As for their fries. We had the hand cut wedges which were fine but I’d put a little less of that Cajun spice they sprinkle on cuz it overwhelms the taste of the fries… just gimme fries, dude!

As for the Veggie Burger… Let me help you out here: think Burger Bun. You don’t stuff 3 pieces of falafel in a burger bun. You either make the falafel the size of a patty or you could try to get creative and come up with a real and original veggie burger. Yaani, let me make it simple for you, if PS wanted falafel that night, he would’ve gone to Sahyoun.

In the end, the head server and the manager asked us for feedback and we were honest. They apologized and brought us dessert on the house, which is “sweet”… BUT, don’t you love how after a place makes a mistake they think you’ll forgive them just because they gave you a piece of cake to nibble on? It would be nice to think about what effect your food may have on others before you stick your foot in your mouth.

Burger Nation is at the end of Hamra St. 01-346646.

I hope you’re all ready for this…

February 20, 2011

…cuz Deedee’s about to rip Classic Burger Joint a new… door… a back door, in fact, so people can escape discretely. Yes, that’s how disappointed she was.

Jay (who also happens to be searching for the ultimate burger) joined Deedee in the quest for the best burger in Leboland. They went to Classic Burger Joint with an open mind. Having heard much about it from the few fans out there.

Deedee ordered hers and told the server she’d like it medium rare. Jay asked for his medium. The guy at one point looked stunned but said OK and walked off with our order.

The anti-climactic moment came when he served the burger and I realized that its a THIN patty which means it’s impossible to take a temperature order. Dude, why didn’t you say something? Something like, “sorry eh, madame walla mademoiselle, bas ma ‘inna temperature la’inno el burger rafee’a” – at least, that would’ve removed the expectation of getting a big fat juicy burger! The meat was dry, nothing to write home about. What a disappointment. Deedee couldn’t even finish her burger. She ate half of it, grabbed Jay by the arm and ran down the block on Abdel Wahab El Inglisi and burst into The Brgr Co. to get her fix. “I need a 6oz burger, medium rare, on the double!!!”

Phew, I mean, thank Bob these places are close so she didn’t have to wait too long to erase that misrable excuse of a burger from her memory! In the end she ordered the Vanilla Bean Milkshake to give her that final comfort-food ending. OK shake, but Jay disagreed.

People, what in Bob’s name do you see in the Classic Burger Joint’s burger?

Someone once said: Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit… Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.

In other words, that is not Deedee’s idea of a real burger so don’t freakin’ put it in a bun!

The Battle of the Burgers…

February 9, 2011

…is on! (and if you don’t get the title, ooof… bas check out Battle of the Bands).

Deedee’s starting to realize that there’s more than one place in Leboland where you can get a New York style burger. Soooo, she promises to keep looking and tasting until we all come to some concensus on who ranks best and who’s at the bottom of the ever increasing list of burger joints in Leboland.

Upon Peter’s recommendation (see comments on Woohoo & Moohoo blog entry), Deedee decided to take L to check out The Brgr Co. and you know what? P’s spot on! It’s a damn good burger, and they serve it medium rare by default… yaani, I didn’t even have to ask for it! 

Deedee also realized that Walid’s Cow & Apple (C&A) actually wasn’t the first to go for an open kitchen. In fact, Hussein beat him to it months ahead at The Brgr Co (TBC). Not only that, even the graffiti on the walls wasn’t originally C&A’s idea cuz TBC opened first! Snap! Sorry Walid, but… that’s what he said! Guys, you’re starting to disappoint me. I mean, what happened to originality and innovation.

The menu is short and straight to the point… exactly what you’d expect at a burger joint. The burger is juicy and so tender it melts in your mouth. Fries is all you get, either thinly sliced or thicker, depending on your order. Deedee had the Butcher’s Cut medium rare with cheddar cheese and L had the 6oz Burger medium with caramelized onions.

The only thing I wished they had was 961 on tap (boy that stuff is good). Too bad cuz you’re stuck with Almaza, so I’d probably either go for a milk shake or a soft drink if I were you… but I’m not, am I?

Dubbed “Beirut’s Dirty Little Secret” (though we all know there are dirtier secrets out there ;-)) The Brgr Co. is located on Abdel Wahab el Inglizi st. in Ashrafieh right off Monot St. and is open all week from 12pm to 12am. For reservations call 01-333511.

Woohoo and moohoo…

January 30, 2011

… that’s right, time to celebrate cuz you can finally get a New York style burger in Leboland!

Cow and Apple – funky name! A butcher/bakery/restaurant… khalas bikaffé, this joint is hidden in an alley off Hamra Street (right before where Modca used to be). It’s actually got 2 entrances, one on Hamra main St. and another charming one through an alley as you’re going down Abdel Aziz St. opposite HSBC.

An open kitchen (bravo Walid for following the latest trend in the food biz), this place feels rugged… or at least it tries. You’re there for the burger and the apple pie… that’s if there’s still room for it in your stomach. A few booths, a communal table (beautiful plank of wood), and the bar. Not so sure about the wanabe graffiti on the walls though… who’s sense of humor was that?! Aaahh, drop it.

Deedee and Mad went there for lunch. She thought there were way too many items on the menu… considering the name implies that the concept is “straight to the point”. Besides, none of the burgers are described, and you don’t want to sit there guessing, soooo we drilled our waiter with questions and he pleasantly complied.

“Shoo ánad bira?” “Fee 961 on tap.” What?!? Why didn’t anyone tell me you could get the stuff on tap? OK guys, I want one of those in my apartment… NOW!

Kint jiáné w nseet sawwira... sorry, éh?

The service isn’t bad, bas the waiter didn’t ask us what temperature we’d like our burger… Actually, to give them credit, the menu tells you to ask for your preferred temperature, bas Deedee didn’t read it! Overall, good burger. Really. Try it.

To moo the Cow 01-740528.

Round two… ping!!

December 7, 2010

You guessed it, Deedee was back in the Big Apple for round two of her food orgy, and get ready cuz I’ve got a couple of new hot tips for you!

I have to admit, I get giddy with the flawless service at restaurants and bars in NYC. Yaani, pretty much everywhere in the US was impressive, bas NYC has an alternative take… a new dimension of professionalism, sophistication, and refinement in dining and service.

Spitzer’s Corner, located on the Lower East Side, serves around 40 beers on tap!! So I had to drag my beer drinking buddy, RLM, along. Not much of an adventurer, RLM had the Weihenstephan Hefe-weissen and stayed there. A South German wheat ale that tasted and smelled of tropical fruit, citrus and cloves. Deedee on the other hand, had to try as many different beers as she could handle. To start with, she had the Coney Island Mermaid Pilsner from NY. A light beer with earthy hoppiness, hints of herbs and honey. Next was the Lagunitas A Little Sumpin Wild from CA (if you say it fast enough it sounds like a little something wild… get it?), a pale ale with notes of pineapple, mango and melon. By that time, we’d ordered their Pork Fat Edamame to nibble on while we waited for our Kobe Burgers (made with 100% Kobe beef and medium rare, akeed) and the Hand Cut French Fries. After that, Deedee had to try that Allagash White from Maine cuz she couldn’t believe the description of that witbier: Banana, grassy wheat, creamy, and balanced… they were right! Last, but not least was the Pretty Things Baby Tree from MA: big plum, red wine, cinnamon raisin bread, and brown sugar. Thanks for the tip Cha, it was a hop-pennin’  experience!

Later Deedee miraculously found herself at The Spotted Pig… it’s a must, after all. M & M joined her. Hog Island Oysters, I couldn’t help myself, from northern California, these babies are sweet, tender with a briny finish. Sheep’s Milk Ricotta Gnudi with Basil Pestooh my Bob! The way these melt in your mouth is so sensual, they should be forbidden from consumption in public! Whatever you’re eating, you can’t not order the Shoestring Fries with rosemary. This time Deedee tried the Grilled Skirt Steak with Roasted Beets & Horseradish Cream, the slices of meat are cooked medium-rare and so tender you barely need your knife. The beets are roasted with kale, and drizzled with Horseradish cream… life is good.  (btw, for those of you who read The New Yorker, there’s an article about the chef in the November 22nd, 2010 Food Issue. Read Burger Queen. She really makes the best burger in the world… amongst others. A Deedee must-have.)

We were around 7 for dinner at Public, another one of Deedee’s regular do’s, so it was the perfect opportunity to try many items on their menu. As we waited for the gang to assemble, we had an aperitif at the bar. Deedee was curious to try The Chook NV, a sparkling Shiraz from SE Australia. The bubbles on this dark ruby red were subtle and light, the nose and palate are cherry, ripe berry and herbal spice ending with a tangy kick. We were then seated and the feast began. For starters: Grilled scallops with sweet chili sauce, crème fraiche and green plantain crisps; Pan-seared foie gras on spiced french toast with mango chutney, maple glaze and crispy bacon; Fried green lip mussels with shiso, sansho pepper, and wasabi-yuzu dipping sauce; Lavender cured ham with a salad of frisee, mirin glazed pecans, pear, pomegranate, and truffle dressing; Beet gnudi with whipped lemon ricotta and a smoked almond and celery leaf pesto. We ordered two different pinot noirs to go with our appetizers: Four Graces 2008 from Willamette Valley, OR a light/medium bodied ruby red, with vanilla, flowers, and light oak aroma, rounded palate flaunting red berries, fruit and light tannins. The other Pinot Noir was the Neudorf “Tom’s Block” 2008, Nelson, New Zealand, a lively bright red with hints of lavender and licorice, this wine is svelt with a mineral palate and fine tannins. With our main courses, we had the Craggy Range “Te Kahu”, Gimblett Gravels, 2007 a Bordeaux blend from Hawkes Bay, NZ. Deep crimson red and has complex aromas that hint at cinnamon, ripe fruit, and pine forrest. The body is full and layered in the mouth. Well rounded and tannic. A good transition. We culminated with Lang and Reed, Cabernet Franc 2008 from North Coast, CA, with aromas of ripe plum and sage, this Cab Franc is dry and tannic but well balanced with dark cherries. Altogether a selection of robust wines that were exquisite with our gamy main course choices. Deedee went for the New Zealand Venison loin, Cabrales dumplings, oyster mushrooms and salsa verde. Oh Bambi, you taste so fine!

Stay tuned… the NYC dining extravaganza isn’t over yet!

I’m comin’, I’m comin’….

July 25, 2010

… and I’m back from my food orgy in NY city. Wow… wow… did I say ‘wow’ already? Whether its the exquisit food, wine, and beer, or the immaculate service, NYC knows its gastronomy and boy do they put on a great show.

My first meal was at Otto!! Everything Italian, this Enotica Pizzeria in New York city is one of my favorite places. I like to sit at the wine bar and have their ‘mezza-like’ dishes.

JA and I thought we’d start of with a pink bubbly, so we had two glasses of Flor Prosecco Rosé  from Veneto. A blush redish-pink color and so refreshing in the summer heat, Flor tastes of citrus, peach and pears.

We moved on to food…

Sformato di Parmigiano – a parmesan flan/pudding that sinfully melts in your mouth. Then Figs “Agrodolce” (a sweet and sour marinated figs – I’ll talk about that in another blog entry) to die for, especially if you have it with Prosciutto. The Roasted Beets & Saba was succulent, the Cucumber, Watermelon & Ricotta Salata – so simple and refreshing – and we had our usual assortment of three cheeses that Denis, the bartender/sommelier, recommended with our wine, which was a 2006 Domenico Clerico Dolcetto Visadi Langhe – a full bodied and very tannic Italian red from Piedmont. The grape -Dolcetto – tasted of dark berries, prunes, licorice, chocolate and was velvety in your mouth. Though it’s summer, this red was pleasant and smooth company to our food.

The Spotted Pig, another one of my faves came next. I just couldn’t get myself to stop eating those Shibumi Oysters! From Washington state, these are medium to small in size and are sweeter and creamier than the ones you get on the East Coast. Washed that down with a Harpoon UFO White, which is a white wheat beer, foggy yellow color, easy to drink and refreshing with an orange and spice palate and made in a micro-brewery in Boston, MA.  Interesting how many micro-breweries are popping up in the US. When M arrived, we had another dozen oysters (can you imagine the state I was in by then?!? :-)). We decided to share their Burger (medium rare akeed) with Roquefort accompanied by their delicious Shoestring Fries seasoned with garlic and rosemary (yaani, á la Deedee).

Next day, K and I went Public!  Usually my dinner hotspot, it was the first time I ‘brunch’ there. Of course, we had a pink bubbly. This time it was Taltarni, a sparkling Rosé from Tasmania, Australia. The color is rosy pink and the palate is dry and spicy but refreshing with peach and berries.  We shared a few dishes: a Salad of Herby Lentils with Pomegranate Molasses (they went a little too heavy on the Pomegranate), Roasted Boudin Noir (blood sausage) a strong flavor with nuttiness, and finally Tea-smoked Salmon with spinach and poached eggs (my favorite of all and went the best with the bubbly).

I was a Double Crown virgin – same owners as Public. We were 3 and shared, naturellement! Started off with Oysters (surprised?) and a glass of Riesling, then moved on to a Gerard Millet Pinot Noir 2008 from Sancerre – a little too light bodied, but went well with the Crisp Pork Belly, Steamed Mussels, and Singapore Style Lobster. I would certainly go back there.

Overall, service was fabulous everywhere. It was an orgasmic experience eating out in NYC…. but then again, isn’t it always?