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nikkib

Lebanon Dining

93 posts in this topic

Hi Nikkib

I'm really enjoying this thread. I'm happy that you're having a good time, although Beirut is experiencing an especially warm summer and an exceptionally busy tourist season which is reeking havoc with an already congested area.

The tag on the shrimp you bought says 49,500.LL/Kilo (forty nine thousand five hundred). Either divide that number by 1500 or regard the price as 49.5LL and divide by 1.5 to get ~ $33 US/Kilo ~ $15 US/lb. Which is comparable to US prices for jumbo shrimp.

The dessert you had at the winery is called "Raha". Gelatinized simple syrup, flavored with blossom or rose water and Mastic, sometimes with pistachios or other nuts incorporated, then covered with powdered sugar. Raha is the quintessential peasant dessert, often offered with the cracker you show in your photo, the Lebanese refer to as BISCOT. A piece of Raha is placed between two Biscotis and squished to form a sandwich.

If you enjoyed Chili's, I think you'd love Sctroumpf restaurant. The one in Achrafieh.

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Has indoor and outdoor seating overlooking St. Malek Ave.

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I think Thursdays they offer all you can eat chicken wings and all the beer you can drink for twenty five thousand LL, yeah.. $15 US.

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When you've had enough Shawarma, wait! You haven't mentioned Shawarma! You're not a seafood-only-eating-vegetarian are you? No problem, you'd love "La Tabkha" in Jemmayze. Across the street from "Comsi Cosaj" which btw means: So so saj. Eh! We didn't go there.

La Tabkha is not really a vegetarian restaurant, but they serve so little meat you won't even notice:).

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A non meat buffet

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The other side

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My brother in law helped himself to this

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Then this

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While my wife had this gourmet Mujaddara (top right). It was strained and lightly flavored with basil. By the way, every thing you see in the middle, the olives, rocca, radishes, peanuts and the pitta bread, came with the beers.

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I could have ordered off the menu. Nowhere did it say hamburgers. I ate the mazza and drank a few Almaza's.

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On to Burj Hammoud.

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Thanks chefcrash - yeah, i found out about the raha, soooo yummy! I have walked past schtumpf literally like a million times but never been in, same for tabhka in gemmayze - will have to rectify that soon everything looks great! I havent really seen shwarma anywhere when i've been hungry hence the no mention, its one of those things that never seems to cross my mind at the right time... but have had plenty of kafta/kibbe etc, will have to post some images soon.... There are a lot less tourists here then everyone was expecting really this summer, hotel occupancies are more in the late 70's/80's than the 100% everyone was predicting, maybe it will pick up during ramadan....


"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

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so, after chefcrash's recommendation i finally decided to go to tabkha this evening for a late lunch/early dinner. I cant believe i haven't been before - i think i always thought it was a really large restaurant but it seats nearer 20-30 people. The menu is written on 2 blackboards, the usual menu offering of burgers, grilled halloumi, mixed majounat (sp?) which i chose - a selection of hot mezze, as well as shawarma and some other mains. The Daily menu was much the same as chefcrash's image. Buffet wise, i chose the wilted chicory and shallots, moutabal (really smokey and delicious) lentil salad, aranabeet (roasted cauliflower with tartor tahini sauce) and grilled courgettes. There were a couple of other options, vine leaves, another salad or two. potato and garlic salad and a tomato white bean chilled stew. With 2 beers, the buffet and the hot mezze my bill was $25 and very enjoyable. I also have attached some photos of the kibbe as heidih mentioned it before - you have here the raw casing (bulghar and minced beef) and then the tabkha cooked version as well.....

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"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

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Here goes the "sweet" part of my trip to Lebanon this summer. I talked about the glories of the Hallab in Tripoli before in a previous post. I am specifically talking about what is now dubbed the "Sweet Palace". This place is the best place to have middle eastern sweets in the region IMO. I drove through Tripoli twice and could not resist stopping there both times. The staff is more than happy to let you take as many pictures as you want. Thank goodness I did not forget my camera on this trip. They invited me to go behind the counters and take a tour and pictures. Contrast that to the place in these picture:

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The two pictures above are from a shop in Beirut called Sibon that we went to for ice cream. They have pretty decent ice cream and some unique flavors like Kenafi, Snickers and Mafrookeh and their cakes (all European style) are ok but they flipped out when I took a couple of pictures of the display! You'd think they have some unique super top secret and very creative designs. Oh well.

As far as ice cream goes I found that the best is at the original branch of Le Cremier off the freeway in Jounieh. Unfortunately their ice cream cases are not see through (ie not camera friendly) and the place is usually packed so a few pictures that would do their stuff justice were not feasible. My favorite flavors from Le Cremier are Avocado, pistachio, Ashta and Mango. I am so craving some of that slightly chewey ice cream now.

Back to the pastry heaven known as Abdul Rahman Rifaat al Hallab aka The Sweet Palace (hopefully that's enough pictures :smile:):

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Here we have several varieties of nut filled pastries. All are very similar to Baklava but don't ask me about all their names.

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This one is Barma. Shredded kataifi (almost like extremely thin angel hair) filled with nuts. I think these are not baked, but fried before being doused in syrup.

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Hallab makes very delicious middle eastern style ice cream and they sure know how to display it.

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These are karabij. Semolina dough filled with pistachios and topped with sweet meringue (not sure it is an egg meringue though).

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Lahm b'Ajeen. In the last few years, Hallab started also serving savory dishes. I've never had any except this because this is an old favorite and dates back to before adding the savory kitchen. It used to be the only non-sweet item on the menu. It is a must have for me. Layers of very think dough and a filling of ground lamb with pomegrante molasses and pinenuts make this deliciously exotic and a good break from all the sweets we usually get. For a more decadent version, ask for a triple layered serving.

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Mafrookeh is certainly one of my top 3 favorites. A sweet semolina dough gets gently fried with syrup and butter and mixed all the time to get a sort of soft and crunchy pudding. It gets a topping of clotted cream (Ashta) and toasted almonds.

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A mixed Ashta plate. It's tastings of most of their Ashta filled pastries

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A mixed nut plate.

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Namoora. Semolina cake soaked in syrup.

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This one is Halawit el Shmaisa. It consists of a dough made of turkish delight and a filling of ashta. It is topped with powdered sugar.


Edited by FoodMan (log)

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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We must be on the same wavelength when it comes to ice cream, i was in Sibon last week, didnt bother taking a photo as i only had a single scoop - ashta flavoured, it was pretty good but no where near the ice cream in the photo above... I don't know the name of the shop but it is on a little sidestreet leading from Sassine down towards hotel de dieu. I didn't take a photo inside as the shop is tiny and there were a couple of people there but next time for sure. They add something like orchid root and something else (gum arabic?) to the icecream which makes it almost chewy, like frozwn marshmallow icecream. The flavours are amazing too, selection of about 6 - all of which were crammed into my cone for $1.50. The shopkeeper explained in french that there was milk flavour (which wiped the floor with the michelin starred milk icecreams i've had)almond - with real pieces of crunchy almond in it and rose flavoured. The other 3 were arabic and he could not explain but damn they were good... too good, i will sadly for my waistline be becoming a regular for sure!

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This is from cafe blanc a casual lebanese chain serving traditional lebanese food with a twist, here you can see my kebee, pickles and moutabal with pomegranate molasses. the kebbe are a variation with labneh and herbs inside and very tasty indeed and here is the eponymous cafe blanc - hot water with orange and rosewater to serve as a digestif

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Off for shawarma shortly - will post soon!


"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

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Well thank goodness i had a chance to lose some weight in the heat of the summer as now i have had the opportuinty to discover Jabbours shawarma that could all go horribly down hill.....

So after mentioning to some people at work i was heading here for shawarma i was inundated with people wanting to come with me, went with a couple of guys from work and bumped into a couple of others when we were there, beirut really is a small world!

Jabbour is located in Dora on a strip of road alongside many other shawarma restaurants and fruit cocktail bars, we were there pretty early by lebanese standards at 930pm but the street was busy with people smoking shisha and getting take away, we sat in the downstairs of jabbour and ate in. Lebanese hospitality being what it is i wasnt allowed to pay so have no idea of the prices but shawarma is street food so i am guessing $3-$5 a piece? We had 2 shawarma each ( i know i know!) but one of my friends apparently goes pretty much every other day and has 4! Whilst this sounds bad the shawarma is made of not too much bread and only a little sauce so it is mostly the chicken o meat so not as bad as you might think. The Chciken came with just a little garlic sauce, pickles and a couple of random chips ( sorry fries) whilst the "meat" (veal/beef/Lamb?) came with tomato, lettuce and tarator (a tahini based sauce)I think the meat was beef or mostly beef but whatever it was, boy was it good! I was expecting to prefer the chicken but the deep meaty flavour combined with juicy fresh tomato and the tarator was delicious

Some pictures of the shawarma, it being carved and the inside of the restaurant

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We finished with fruit cocktail - basically chopped banana, melon, pineapple, grapes, almonds and kiwi layered with a fruit cocktail of all of the above blended and topped with an avocado, milk and honeyu mix that was so thick it needed to be eaten with a spoon, topped with ashta (like a cottage cheese) and more fruit. Looks frightening but was delicious, very filling but i must have had like 3 of my 5 a day in there which is a bonus.

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The whole street looked great and i will definitely have more trips there to post on in the not too distant future, for now i can only think of my waistline and weep.....


"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

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Sunday brunch - scrambled eggs with sumac and awarma meat (confit lamb) with a veggie plate on the side (and a beer!)curled up in a chair reading 100 years of solitude is about as good a way as any to spend a lazy day in Beirut...

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"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

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I seem to have neglected to update this recntly so here are a few recent meals to bring it a bit more up to date...

Gaucho has just opened here by the Phoenicia hotel, its extremely glamourous - very beirut, all black and white cow skin and glittering chandeliers and by all accounts doing well. I popped in for a couple of drinks and a snack so no steak this time, just a sampler of taraditos and ceviche (which i seem to have forgotten to take a photo of) which was delicious, if not very small -like 3 dessert spoons in total, one fo scallop, one king prawn and one tuna, all extremely fresh and tasty witha good citrus kick. Next up the crab cakes and a tomatao and fennel salad, the crab cakes had a good dose of chilli and coriander in them and were nicely coooked, tomato salad could have done with being a bit riper but had a great balsamic dressing and a nice crunch from the addition of the fennel. A welcome addition to the Beirut dining scene although probably not one for the tourists.

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Next up just a light bite in a place called Soho near the four seasons. I liked the array of spreads with the bread - a tapenade, tomato and olive and a feta one, nicely presented in little jars. Just an endive salad with roquefort for after - i prefer the leaves individually and with a creamier dressing ( i left half the cheese as it was far too generous a topping for me) but a nice lunch place with lots of salads and a very chi chi crowd.

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"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

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Now for THE burger - Beirutis have no end of options for burgers and it makes it way onto most restaurant menus in one shape or form. Brgr opened back in the summer and does what it says on the tin - a 4oz, a 6 oz offered medium or med well, served with fries. The rest of the menu has a wedge salad, buttermilk onion rings, a beef hotdog and a special wagyu burger, a couple of sundaes and thats it. The venue seats maybe 30-40 and is open until 2am at the weekends to catch the late night crowd, a good move and the design is fab. $20 for a couple of beers a diet coke and a great burger is money well spent for me

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Stove just opened a few weeks back, a converted house with three small dining rooms, a terrace for summer and a great brasserie menu. The Chef has won many awards for his cooking and whilst my choice of charcuterie and salad doesnt show that off the menu was mouthwateringly good. Nothing new, just brasserie classics - pumpkin soup with ceps, wild mushrooms and escargots on toast etc. My Charcuterie was excellent - tomato salad nicely seasoned and brownie points for the lovely mignardises with my coffee...

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Edited by nikkib (log)

"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

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And i finally made it to brunch at Casablancas, one of the few places in town that hasnt resorted to the lebanese brunch buffet trends and instead goes for waffles, omelettes, pancakes and eggs. I braved it out in the middle of a huge 3 day thunderstorm as my eggs benedict craving was too much! I was welcomed into a second floor converted house painted warming shades of terracotta - it almost felt carribean in style. The usual menu is fusion - salads with tuna and glass noodles, salt and pepper squid etc but i opted for eggs benedict (on a bagel?! but very good all the same)with a couple of mimosas and a chocolate tart for dessert. This is what brunch is about for me and i will definitely go back. the main menu looked good too so may check it out at night one time as well. The crowd was a nice mix of families and young groups of friends catching up on the gossip of the night before all kicking back for a lazy sunday sheltering from the rain

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"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

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How much longer will you be staying in Beirut?

I don't want your reports to ever end! I'm thinking of moving there eventually (or the UAE), but that won't be for years. I need to live vicariously through you until then!

Why do you think Gaucho isn't for tourists? (just asking, not arguing)

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Should be here for another year or so - i always feel bad that my reports are so lazy compared to some of the great ones i read on here! Beirut is a great place to live, so easy to settle into and feel at home - the excellent food and local wine certainly help! (thats not to say i am not super excited about eating at st john, scotts, bar bouloud, polpetto and barrafina when im back for a week at the beginning of jan - and my mums roast partridge with all the trimmings mmmmmm)

I was thinking more of british tourists when i mentioned gaucho - seeing as we already have the concept in the Uk its nothing new - they have done incredibly though, its a very slick operation thats for sure.


"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

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Nikkib, your reports aren't at all lazy. Keep them coming, please, they are fascinating and the food looks delicious.



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mandaloun cafe - a favourite for a civilised glass of wine and usually a salad from the salad bar or one their delicious toasted sandwiches - here truffled emmental and broccoli mmmmmmm....

This is a great place to sit and watch the world go by and i always know other diners there which is fun, especially as this was one of the first places i ate at when i moved here 11 months ago knowing no-one....

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Sushi. Like the burger, is big news here, sadly i am yet to find anywhere on a par with

places i have dined at in NYC or London where the bill causes a sharp intake of breath but you feel so satisfied it becomes part of the experience, here it tends to average a 40-$50 meal with most of that being wine - they can't escape from the kani either. Anyway, cheap sushi is now a guilty pleasure so here are some recent meals in the spirit of full disclosure

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"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

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MOMO HAS OPENED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! For those of you not familiar with Momo, it is a great Morroccon restaurant in London, good food, very "designed" (madonna had her 40th (i think) there) and great drinks. It is a 200 seater all day concept with a separate bar and terrace serving cocktails and bar snacks (mezze style mostly) and a restaurant with pastilla/tagine etc type dishes. I love it here and it is currently THE hottest ticket in town, Momo (as the owner is also known) is a genius - google him and check out his retinue of places in London/Paris and put them on your list of places to visit, you wont be disappointed. I only had 2 starters (tragiaclly i have eaten the same thing everytime i've been but that shows you how good it is) Gazpacho which was the absolute most delicious gazpacho i have ever had ( and i order this anytime i see it on a menu without fail) I almost think it had some strawberries in it as it had a delicious sweetness along with the usual tomato/pepper bite. Followed by Pata Negra with pan con tomate - another favouriteand one i havent found anywhere else in Beirut. This was o good i didnt even take a photo (oops) but what can you say - fancy ham, bread and tomatoes..... MMMMMMmmmmmmmm

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Also some shrimp kebbe and hindbe (dandelion in oil) i had in downtown last week

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and lunch today (well my only meal of the day at 5pm when i was on my way home from work and fancied a rose flavoured shisha to smoke and figured food might be a good idea too!) Abdel Wahab is an absolute must, its a great lebanese restaurant with a beautiful roof terrace for eating on in the summer. Usually i have loads of mixed mezzes but today i was craving lamb and carbs as i was tired after a long Easter weekend at work so Kafta Aryass (minced lamb in arabic bread) followed by sahlab ice cream and angel hair with honey. Followed by a cafe blanc and an easter egg from the waiter !This is a true doint miss experience if you do visit Beirut.

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"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

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http://www.soukeltayeb.com/tawlet.php opened last year and has just opened for brunch. I think the link expalins everything but basically it is run in conjunction with a great farmers market and only opens for lunch. Every day( or week maybe?) they have a different chef, a local lebanese housewife who will cook the specialities of their region/family. It is great and great to have "home cooked food" I had been sick for a few days and literally hadnt eaten and feeling a bit weepy for some of my mums home food thought this would be the next best thing - chicken soup for the soul and all that. The buffet had a selection of maybe 8 starters and mezze from kebbe, tabbouleh, hummus etc to mains of stuffed intestine, okra stew, Ouzi. Oh it was perfect, just what the Dr ordered. $30 gets you all you can eat and arak/soft drinks( i opted for arak naturally)

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"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

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Now there is a great restaurant concept - farmers market plus good home cooks - love it.

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some recent meals another trip to momo for a glass of wine and some snacks in the bar, a great avocado salad (guacamole) with cumin biscuits and a tomato salad with strawberry foam which was excellent, i shall be playing around with the strawberry tomato combo at home for sure

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Sitting on the jetty at Cafe L'orient enjoying the sunshine with some hummus and tabouleh (more about the surroundings than the food but both dishes were fine)

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And back again for some very good but very rich shrimp croquettes this is the life....

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Pizza at Aliacci in gemmayze - a white pizza so no tomato sauce just a fresh pesto coating, spinach, mozzarella and parmesan, a great pizza, wafer, wafer thin

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And lastly lunch today enjoying the sunshine at the St Georges swimming pool (even swimming pools dont escape political slogans in beirut!!) Mexican almaza with lemon juice and salt rim and a warm cheese, pickled cucumber and turkey ham sandwich what a way to spend a day off!!!

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"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

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I am stealing the cumin crackers with guacamole concept. I've been wanting to try my hand at some seedy crackers, and I have avocados on the tree. Seems like a lovely match.

The croquettes are calling me. They look quite crispy on the outside. What was the interior like?

I do understand how a view like that might influence your opinion :wink:

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Hi heidih - the croquetas were like a fried bechemal sauce dotted with pieces of shrimp - and yes, definitely try the cumin seed biscuits at home, they were great, wafer thin but hard enough to scoop the guacamole up with. Still jealous of the blog posts with all your wonderful home grown avocados and citrus and herbs etc ;)


"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

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Ok so I am off to Beirut for a week from Friday- will do my best to blog as much as possible so if anyone has any requests do let me know and I will try to accommodate them! Sahtein!


"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

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Ok so I am off to Beirut for a week from Friday- will do my best to blog as much as possible so if anyone has any requests do let me know and I will try to accommodate them! Sahtein!

I'm jealous Nikki. Don't do this for my sake, but if you crave a decent pizza made in an olive-wood burning oven, try Olio's in Jimmayseh.

Another place I enjoyed was Paradox. Located on this side of Junieh. Fancy digs, but surprisingly cheap Lebanese fare with a view.

Have a great trip.

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ahhh olios - yes i have been many a time, actually alliaci replaced it in my affections though - slightly furter up in gemmayze away from martyrs square and on teh other side of the road, there and margarita were my favourites (3 awesome pizza restaurants all on the same road - thats actually pretty impressive when you think about it!)Paradox sounds good - will do my best to get there, my boyfriend is in the midst of opening a restaurant in sin el fil so have a feeling i may spend rather more of the week on my own than i would like so will make up for it by eating/drinking and smoking as much arguileh as possible :-) cannot wait! Tawlet is definitely on the list as i loved it there and i will check out Zaitunay Bay, possibly just for coffee but i am excited to see the marina space finally open, may hit up the restaurant owned by couqley, we'll see. Dont suppose you have any recommendations for places in sin el fil? Not an area i have been to often apart from to habtoor....


"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

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Yes :-) I love abdel wahab, will definitely be going there and falamankis too!


"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

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