L’Atelier in Beirut

August 24, 2010  • 

 

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!)

L’Atelier

Damas street (Rue de Damas)

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




Comments

25 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. FOODESSA says:

    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,
    Claudia

  2. elra says:

    The salad make my mouth water instantly.

  3. sweffling says:

    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. A Canadian Foodie says:

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

  5. Susan says:

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

  6. deana says:

    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. Amanda says:

    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. sophia says:

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

  9. 5 Star Foodie says:

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

  10. Jean says:

    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. Devaki says:

    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. Sushma Mallya says:

    beautiful clicks of yummy dishes…

  13. Heavenly Housewife says:

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

  14. Doc says:

    That cake looks divine. Happy Birthday to your Dad!

  15. T.W. Barritt says:

    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?

    • Joumana says:

      @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-

  16. marla says:

    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. Oui, Chef says:

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

  18. Alépine says:

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

  19. heguiberto says:

    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!
    Cheers,
    Heguiberto

  20. Magic of Spice says:

    Looks amazing…So glad that you found a place that you enjoyed 🙂

  21. Conor @ HoldtheBeef says:

    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!

  22. OysterCulture says:

    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.

  23. MOHAMMAD says:

    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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