L’Atelier in Beirut

When my friend Jacqueline mentioned L’Atelier as being the best place to eat in Beirut, I thought to myself “Yeah, whatever...” I had secretly sworn off most eateries as being either too expensive or too disappointing.

Well, serendipitously, I was invited there a couple of days later by a childhood friend I had not seen in a few (hmm..) decades.

L’Atelier is no ordinary restaurant. It is staffed by students of the hotel management school of the Université Saint-Joseph.  The kitchen is under the creative direction of the hottest chef in Lebanon, Chef Maroun Chédid (more on him in another post!) and the most brilliant Pastry  Chef Charles Azar.

To sum it up, I had the most exquisite meal and the best service! Furthermore, judging by a quick glance at the prices, for a fraction of the cost of any starred restaurant in a world capital.

Judge for yourself:

A bread basket  with warm, fresh and crusty rolls made in-house.

An appetizer which consisted of a hummus trilogy, a brilliant interpretation of our classic hummus by Chef Chédid, with a medley of crisp veggies incorporated into the classic  hummus.

The salad, which we split (it was huge) was a sweet and delicate, subtly-spiced construction including shredded cabbage, crabmeat, strawberries, kiwis, melons, grapefruit segments, all meshed with  a light vinaigrette and  a  garnish of  walnuts.

I ordered a local mediterranean fish, which came baked in a salt crust and, once the crust removed, was incredibly moist. My friend ordered a fabulously tender filet of beef, which came with some crispy potatoes carved in geometric shapes,  on a bed of lightly steamed green beans. Classic but perfectly executed.

Of course, I was not going to pass up a dessert! In came the Tarte el-Khalil,  a pistachio tart, with a rich pâte sablée, a most ethereal ashta (clotted cream), served with a dollop of sahlep ice-cream,  some  dots of rosewater-flavored sauce and a pecan  and caramel crisp.

L’Atelier will not disappoint you; in fact, you will love the cuisine and the staff.  The kitchen, which was graciously shown to me, is outfitted with the best equipment in the world, from sous-vide machines, to ovens or pastry  sheeters and the standards of hygiene get  the highest marks. (I have never been more impressed by a restaurant kitchen).

(I am taking my darling aunts and cousins there next week!)


Damas street (Rue de Damas)

Phone number (01) 426-474, Beirut (next to the French Embassy and the National  Museum)

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  1. Posted August 24, 2010 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    Joumana…between your very expressive description and those delectable photos…you have me practically on a plane to come join you next week ;o))

    I’m glad circumstances of life brought you to ‘Atelier’…and that your senses and tummy got treated so very well.

    Ciao bella and flavourful wishes,

  2. Posted August 24, 2010 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    The salad make my mouth water instantly.

  3. Posted August 24, 2010 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    I completely echo Claudia’s remarks! I could not have put it better. Lead me to the plane.

    Thank you for the vicarious thrill – I must get to the Lebanon. Top of the list after this Autumn’s jaunt.

  4. Posted August 24, 2010 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

    Good for you and Bravo to the students there! What a tribute to them! Be sure to send them a copy of your post.

  5. Posted August 24, 2010 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

    What a lovely restaurant! Everything looks delicious. I’m glad you were pleasantly surprised by your meal. I love when that happens!

  6. Posted August 24, 2010 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    Fabulous… how I wish I could stop in Beirut!! What a great find.. there is something like it in NY but yours sounds so wonderfully exotic. Great dishes… I guess you have a new favorite place!

  7. Posted August 24, 2010 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

    I sympathise with your sentiment totally.
    I often think that I could have made betterr food for much less cost when I eat out – so it is a real joy to have a find like this one!

  8. Posted August 24, 2010 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

    Um, can you take me, too? Everything looks FANTASTIC. I usually find salads boring, but that one there is a beauty!

  9. Posted August 24, 2010 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

    An amazing meal, would love a taste of that local mediterranean fish!

  10. Posted August 24, 2010 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

    What a feast for the taste buds as well as for the eyes. Isn’t it wonderful to be pleasantly surprised? I’ve also been disappointed by similar places but when one comes around that really delivers, it’s great. Even better to enjoy all this with an old friend.

  11. Posted August 24, 2010 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

    So wonderful! And to think all of this from ‘talent in training’ Wow! I would be back nexst week too if I could :)

    Thanks for sharing such a lovely meal.

    Ciao, Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

  12. Posted August 25, 2010 at 12:02 am | Permalink

    beautiful clicks of yummy dishes…

  13. Posted August 25, 2010 at 4:55 am | Permalink

    What a wonderful restaurant. I think that pistachio tart has my name on it :)
    *kisses* HH

  14. Posted August 25, 2010 at 6:34 am | Permalink

    That cake looks divine. Happy Birthday to your Dad!

  15. Posted August 25, 2010 at 6:42 am | Permalink

    Wow! I have always enjoyed restaurants connected to cooking schools. The French Culinary Institute in NYC is a good example, and their restaurant is consistently excellent. I’m intrigued by the hummus trilogy – how were they flavored?

  16. Posted August 25, 2010 at 7:01 am | Permalink

    Looks like I need a trip to Beirut to try this lovely restaurant! The items you gals ordered look amazing and well worth the time and $$! Good times :)

  17. Posted August 25, 2010 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    I’ll certainly be making a note of this glowing review for when I FINALLY get to travel to your magical country. – S

  18. Joumana
    Posted August 25, 2010 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    @T.W. The hummus trilogy is as follows: the first one is the traditional hummus. The second one is mixed with crunchy, diced veggies (radishes, cucumbers, tomatoes and marinated fennel); the third one is spiced and instead of lemon juice contains verjuice which is a traditional substitute to lemon juice in rural areas especially. -extracted from sour grapes-

  19. Posted August 25, 2010 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    J’allais demander ce qui différenciait les différent hoummos, mais je vois que t’as répondu. J’aurais bien goûté la tarte !

  20. Posted August 25, 2010 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    omg how delightful this place must be. Can I have some of that beautiful hummus now? It is almost 3pm in the Dock of the Bay and I realize I forgot to eat my lunch, time for a little break now!

  21. Posted August 26, 2010 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    Looks amazing…So glad that you found a place that you enjoyed :)

  22. Posted August 26, 2010 at 11:46 pm | Permalink

    How wonderful, I love these types of places. Goes to show what a difference it makes when the people who are doing the work really care about what they are doing and haven’t had a chance to learn bad habits yet!

  23. Posted August 27, 2010 at 6:25 am | Permalink

    Is this what they call making you eat your words? =) what a yummy sounding meal, and what a treat to visit with a friend you had not seen in a long time.

    Posted March 16, 2012 at 4:03 am | Permalink

    hello i will come to beirut in 18 march 2012 please sent me your adress exactly to my email .My hotel is Imperial hotel in beirut Iwant to know how far i am to the resturant and how can i get there

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  1. By Location & Transportation | Mina & Waël on August 20, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    [...] L’Atelier in Beirut, Damas street (Rue de Damas)  Phone number (01) 426-474, Beirut (next to the French Embassy and the National Museum. [...]

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