December 03, 2013 Achrafieh Beirut Lebanon Middle East

Beirut French Gastronomy Week: An Enchanting Grande Finale Dinner

Phone Number: +961 1 339 797

Address: 137 Rue Abdel Wahab El Inglizi, Achrafieh, Beirut, Lebanon

Website: http://www.albergobeirut.com/

Price Range: 70-150 $

Hotel Albergo Hotel Albergo
4.3 out of 5 based on 1 professional review.

RATING:86/100

Welcoming: 5/5

Food Temperature: 10/10

Ambiance / Music: 7.5/10

Menu Choice: 5/5

Food Taste: 29/30

Architecture / Interior: 8/10

Food presentation: 9/10

Service: 10/10

Value for money: Soon

There are things in life one should not miss... Attending the French Gastronomic Week in Lebanon was a must, at least for me. This event was special in many ways. . . Not only did we get to try dishes prepared by five outstanding chefs from France, this year’s edition marked the 12th anniversary of this renowned French Gastronomic Week at the Al Dente restaurant located on the ground floor of the Albergo Hotel in Achrafieh. Six nights filled where five chefs offered their best creations as they joined hands for a magical closing finale dinner.

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Together with my parents I booked a table at the Al Dente Ristorante to enjoy the last day of the event. I was excited to check out what Chefs Jean-Jacques Noquier, Georges Paccard, Jean-Christophe Lebascle, Patrice Hardy and Jacques Pourcel have installed for us tonight. Accompanied by a generous flow of Roederer champagne, the grand finale to a week of flavors left everyone mesmerized... 

We were welcomed with a glass of champagne at the entrance as we arrived at 9pm; then were led to our table located in the left wing. All the tables were decorated with a vase of white flower surrounded by a full table setup which included details like three knives, three forks, champagne glass, water glass and special champagne glass...
 
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Dinner started with a silver basket of bread filled with a wide choice of warm crispy fresh bread from Paul, while we sipped on our first glass of champagne: "Louis Roederer, Brut Premier". A fine and elegant champagne offering an infant fresh aroma.
 
Waiting to be served I took all my time looking at the very little details that constitute this place:
  • The restaurant is divided into three distinct rooms. The main hall in the middle, the bar on the right and a dining area to the left
  • White marbles cover the floor
  • Spacious rooms with high ceiling with pending design metal poles
  • In the other rooms, old Lebanese tiles add a touch of color
  • Violet is the color of all the walls
  • Round and square tables, surrounded with leather relaxing chairs, fill the space
  • Here and there large mirrors make the space look bigger
  • Two long alleys of lights add a fine artistic touch to the side rooms
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Tonight's menu:
  • Foie gras de canard des Landes grillé, accompagné de fruits d'automne, jus à la gentiane des Alpes
  • Royale de cèpes escargot petit gris, espumas a l'ail des ours
  • Raviole ouverte de canard confit, fine mousseline de butternut, noisettes torréfies, jus réduit façon civet
  • Noix de pétoncles cuits au four, crémeux de panais et cerfeuil tubéreux rôti
  • Comme un tiramisu à la truffe
I appreciated the general ambiance, the Frette fine tablecloths, the beautiful plates decoration and the polite waiters.

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Join me on tonight's fine culinary journey:

  • Foie Gras de Canard des Landes grillé: Yellow mouse, I presume butternut, a piece of pan-fried foie gras, decorated with two carrots and two green leaves. Yellow, orange, green, brown... A slight crunchy outer layer covered with salt and pepper revealing a soft tasty inner rich warm foie gras with a sightly caramelized aftertaste. Accompanying the foie gras is a crunchy carrot prepared like round fingers and the purée has a slight truffle aftertaste. The journey ends by the crunching salt covering the piece. All of this majestic creation was served on a glass plate which made a perfect first impression. We all looked at each other with a smile of joy knowing that what was coming afterwards was going to be unique.
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Champagne Louis Roeder, Brut Millésime 2006 (Raffine et a la personnalité affirmé, robuste et vineuse. Bouquet sublit de zeste d'agrumes, de fruits secs avec des notes chaudes et fruités. La bouche à une attaque ample et profonde une rondeur vineuse et riche avec une trame d'une élégance presque féminine.

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  • Royale de cèpes escargot petit gris: A light foam served warm and rich in garlic covers two snails laying at the bottom of the cup along a mushroom mousse. A very nice texture that's chewy and soft, where every bite activate your taste buds. It's bizarre, but I am not able to describe this unique glass verrine that's unique despite it's tiny size. A fine culinary creation which unfortunately ended in three small bites

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Mrs. Jihane Khairallah, the hotel manager took the floor as she thanked the esteemed chefs for their presence. She then welcomed the French Ambassador Mr. Patrice Paoli who gave a word of support.
 
Champagne Louis Roederer, Beut Rose Lillesime 2007 (Fruité élégant et délicat, fruits rouges, avec de l'ampleur et une vinosité onctueuse. Il libère des parfums intenses et complexes. En bouche il est élégant et ferme par la structure, charmeur charnu et dense

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  • Raviole Ouverte de canard Confit: Orange color mousse of butternut decorated in a line shape with crunchy nuts covering it. Next to that are cooked carrot cubes where an ardent ravioli is majestically layered, covering a soft tender mix of duck meat that melts under your teeth like butter. A mix of sweetness, acidity and freshness all together mixing many different textures at once. I loved the crunchy nuts that ends every bite in style.

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Henry Debbene, Enoteca's owner accompanied by Christophe Pelaud Enoteca's sommelier took the floor as they gave us more details about tonight's champagne and its importance during the meal. Followed by an explanation of Roederer and its history.
 
An interesting fact: Never drink champagne with cake (or desert) you won't be able to enjoy the aromas.
 
The last champagne: The best was left for last. Louis Roedered Cristal Champagne. Cristal is the brand name of a Champagne produced by Louis Roederer. Cristal has a flat-bottomed clear, "crystal" bottle, anti-UV cellophane wrapper, and gold label. Widespread awareness of its high price has given the wine an image of exclusivity that, in turn, has elevated demand: it is considered a Veblen good.
Cristal was first created in 1876 for Alexander II of Russia, and is viewed by many as the first prestige cuvée. As the political situation in Russia at the time of his rule was unstable, the Tsar feared assassination. He ordered that champagne bottles for hisThree Emperors Dinner be made clear, so that he could see the bubbles and also to prevent hiding a bomb within them, as could happen with a typical dark green bottle. Louis Roederer commissioned a Flemish glassmaker to create a clear lead glassChampagne bottle with a flat bottom. The Champagne has since become known as "Cristal". The wine was not commercially available until 1945. In the mid 1990s and early 2000s, the brand became increasingly associated with rap and hip-hop culture, with several artists referencing the drink in song lyrics and as part of their public image, notably New York rappers Raekwon, 50 Cent, Biggie Smalls, Puff Daddy, Big L, Hollywood Undead, and Jay-Z, and in this context is often referred to as "Crissy". Tupac Shakur created a cocktail called "Thug Passion", which is a blend of Alizé Gold Passion and Cristal. In 2006, the managing director of Louis Roederer, Frédéric Rouzaud, was quoted in an article in The Economist on the brand’s popularity with hip-hop artists. His comments were interpreted as negative, and Jay-Z launched a boycott of the brand.
This champagne is drank in a special wine glass and should be opened thirty minutes before service.
 
Champagne Louis Roederer, Cristal brut 2095 (séducteur précis, gourmand et dite d'une fraîcheur fuselée et presque vivante. Associant fraîcheur, energie et minéralité presque crayeuse, on y retrouve: pureté, précision, harmonie unique des saveurs associés à la subtile puissance des grands terroirs.

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  • Noix de Pétoncles Cuits au Four: These are scallops like you have never tasted before. Accompanied by sweet potato, the plate looked like a passion fruit opened in its middle, orange in color and covered with small black pearls - a piece of art. Every bite is unique. Every crunch  bursts in flavors that caress your taste buds.
Aldente_French_Gastronomy_Week_2013_Beirut36 Dessert:
  • Comme un Tiramisu à la Truffe: Many around didn't understand the concept around this dessert, but I adored it. Two thumbs up chef! A long shaped meringue topped silver icing this unique creation is where the chef  has mastered mixing truffles in a dessert without the smell but a hint of aftertaste. Chocolate sparkles cover a fresh homemade style tiramisu in a cup with one layer cake and two thick layers of mascarpone; followed by a subtle truffle flavor. Extravagant!
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Tonight, I enjoyed one of the finest dinners Lebanon has ever witnessed:
  • Selim, our waiter should be thanked for his professionalism, generosity and welcoming
  • I love how all waiters were wearing white gloves
  • For $150 each we had the best food Lebanon has ever witnessed, refills of champagne flowing all night long. I think we drank for more than $150 each
Unpleasant for such a unique experience:
  • It was way too hot in here. Air Conditioning please!
  • The plates were too big. They were disproportional to the table size
  • The music was unacceptable for such a premium event

Aldente_French_Gastronomy_Week_2013_Beirut62 Tonight's dinner was outstanding, so refined, rich and generous and again I say enchanting. Thank you Albergo, thank you chefs, thank you Enoteca and thank you Air France. It was an all senses fulfilling experience.




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