Aaah, I totally felt it…

March 20, 2011

…thought Deedee as she looked up at the moon. She knew something was up: it was a full moon. It turns out this is the closest full moon to the earth that we’ve had since 1993. No wonder it’s looking so cosmically glamorous!

The Road Runner drove Deedee into the old city of Byblos (Jbeil) late that afternoon as the sun was preparing itself for a magnificent departure. This old city is so enchanting and the architecture is better preserved than in other nearby villages. After a little snooping around she felt hungry and so headed to é Cafe for a bite. Luckily it was empty and too early for dinner time, so she grabbed a small quaint table inside and ordered her meal. Straight to the point: Filet Mignon, medium rare akeed, comes with Rocca salad and potatoes, complimented by a bottle of Epicure 2005 (a red bordeaux from Enoteca – see previous blog entry for description), and topped with a special touch of good service to go with that meal. Turns out the staff is actually trained! When Deedee asked,  she found out it was her friend A who was behind it all… not surprised, since she was one of the initial creators of this place.

Deedee enjoys the choices on their menu, but she doesn’t understand why they give you two menus to choose from? Personally, I wouldn’t go for the Italian… menu, that is. There’s another é Cafe in Sursock, Ashrafieh, but this one has a different kind of charm.

Psst, don’t flatter yourself… it’s purely business. For reservations: 09-542224.

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Was that a cheesy lunch or what?

March 13, 2011

… Literally, and you’ll see why!

Cha, Loomi and Deedee were skiing in Faraya and decided to grab a bite at Le 1700. D had told Deedee about this new place near Faqra in Kfardebian, and since D actually knows what she’s talking about, Deedee decided to check it out.

The place is spacious and has huge windows that flaunt an awesome view (especially on a clear day). Wood everywhere, thank Bob, cuz I’d hate to see plastic in that kind of setting. It’s cozy and the staff is friendly and trained, at least as far as we could tell. Surprised, though, to find the place empty for lunch on Saturday, but apparently they fill up at dinner Saturday and for lunch Sunday, which is logical for that area, so if you really want personalized service, head there when the crowd’s away… that’s what Deedee would do.

Once you sit down, you’re served warm bread with a piece of smoked Feta cheese topped with sundried tomatoes and pine nuts… yummy, and a refreshing alternative to the usual bread and butter. We asked for the Magret de Canard Salad and the Foie Gras – homemade, served with a fig confit and deedelicious. For our mains we had the Raclette and the Cheese Fondue (told you it was cheesy). The Fondue is pretty good, and you can’t really go wrong with Raclette which is served with a mixed green salad. Overall, it was fun and hit the spot after that short day skiing – considering there wasn’t much snow a few weeks back.

Deedee had a bottle of Epicure, a 2005 Red Bordeaux by Hubert de Boüard, that was just right for the meal we picked. You can find it at Enoteca, this Merlot-Cabernet Sauvignon blend is medium bodied, rich and elegant with a nose of earth and spice. Along with its fine tannins it had dark red berries, prunes, cinnamon and licorice on the palate with a caramel finish. Le 1700 actually has it on the menu but Deedee asked if they’d let us drink our own bottle and they said “Walaw?!” They didn’t even charge us a corkage fee! I love those guys! Anyhoo, their wine list is not bad and the prices are pretty reasonable, yaani they don’t triple charge you, which is a good strategy for up-selling.

Deedee will do Le 1700 again cuz she’s eager to try the other intriguing items on their menu. Recommended, even if only for an aprés ski aperitif.

Great shots, Cha. For reservations: 03- 44 1700 (shway cheesy?)


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.


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!


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.