As rich as its ingredients, Lebanese cuisine has an extraordinary history that dates back to ancient times.
While it’s easy to say that the cuisine is part Arabic, part French, the truth of the matter is that Lebanese food as we know it today is an amalgam of flavours that predates its modern history.
Think of the various occupants that have influenced the country – Roman, Phoenician, Ottoman and French – and it’s understandable why the cuisine doesn’t fit the traditional Middle Eastern mould.
Bringing all that rich history and flavour to the capital is the newly opened Maison Beirut in Fairmont Bab Al Bahr.
Combining opulence with a laidback atmosphere, the restaurant pays tribute to the French leanings with classy minimalist interiors highlighted by a Parisian crystal chandelier – but the outdoor terrace is a great option during the winter.
A perfect counter to the breezy weather, the seafood soup deliciously warms the stomach. Not scrimping on filling, the dish’s every scoop is accompanied by a variety of seafood including mussels, calamari, shrimp and hammour.
We follow it up with moutabal, a traditional Middle Eastern dip made from smoked eggplant, tahini sesame paste and pomegranate seeds. For its seeming simplicity, this dish is just brimming with sumptuous flavour ranging from mild spicy, to bitter and smoky – all of which blend perfectly to create a sumptuous taste. To best enjoy it, we pair it with Arabic bread served generously by the friendly staff.
We sample the warak enab – vine leaves stuffed with rice and tomato – served sushi style. This delicious healthy dish may come across as a novelty to those unfamiliar with Lebanese cuisine, but it’s a common staple along with its sushi-inspired presentation, as we’re told.
For the main course, we excitedly order the mixed grill. Served in an elegant gold plated grill, this meat-laden dish is composed of shish taouk, kofta, lamb kebab and lamb chops.
The meat selections, soft in texture, are perfectly grilled and juicy. We are particularly fond of the smoky flavour of the lamb chops and shish taouk – they’re mouthwatering.
We finish our meal with qatayef bil jebin, fried Arabic dumplings stuffed with akkawi cheese and dipped in sugar syrup. Yummy without being overly sweet, these little treats are highly recommended.
With its extensive choice of authentic Lebanese fare, Maison Beirut provides a thorough voyage to the culturally rich nation – all through the palate.
Need to know:
Location: Maison Beirut, Fairmont Bab Al Bahr, between the bridges
We say: Great food selection, wonderful dining ambiance
Cost: AED 295 for two
Opening times: Sat-Wed and Fri noon-1am, Thu noon-3.30am
Contact: 02 654 3238, email@example.com