With the huge success of entities like Paul Bakery, Balthazar and La Mie Dorée pastry shop, Lina Lteif has come again with a new concept inspired by French cuisine and fresh food served in a funky space while respecting class and finesse; Karnaval is born in the heart of downtown Beirut, facing Beirut Souks down the stairs next to Suz.
Karnaval is a new restaurant that's freshly opened and that serves a wide variety of designer plates each with a touch of finesse and inspiration. Beautifully decorated plates where one bite leads to another and then a third, until you find yourself devouring your meal in no time at all.
Enter a wide space decorated with colorful banners on the sides reminding you of a carnival of colors, hence the name: Karnaval. Two levels, of which one hosts a dozen tables and another has a long bar, displayed kitchen gadgets and the toilets. Sitting on the upper level gives you a beautiful view on the restaurant but means you're exposed to a strong wind that hits your back continuously.
The main attraction is the salad bar or salad display. Salads are prepared a la minute in front of guests. Baskets of fresh vegetables inciting you to order.
A nice plate, fine cutlery, Peugeot pepper mills and a black plate with bread and butter, the table was ready to host us for lunch. On the menu is a selection of salads, from the grill, quiches and artisanal tarts, soups, sandwiches and desserts.
As lunch started a baguette of multi cereal bread is offered with butter on the side. A fluffy, warm bread topped with a load of grains, a tender bread with a circle of butter on the side.
Lunch feels light and fresh:
- The Arwan Salad: Not everyone succeeds with quinoa salad. Some make it hard, others too watery or simply flavorless, but surely not Karnaval. The quinoa salad experience starts the minute it lands on the table showing its beautiful colors. Cucumbers, kumquat, crunchy salt, olive oil, cubes of turkey, hazelnuts, cranberries, fresh greens and an edible capucine flower. Those many ingredients blend well together each adding finesse and style. It's not your average salad but one crafted with a fine knowhow.
- Salade des Bijoutiers: Four slices of chicken marinated to perfection lying on a bed of fresh greens shining beautifully with chia seeds (the super grain), yellow cherry tomatoes for the art, green lettuce, avocado, fresh mushrooms, red cherry tomatoes and their juice. That's so yummy! Could Karnaval be the restaurant with the best salads in Lebanon? If you are a salad lover, that's surely your restaurant.
- Cheese Quiche: That's where lunch turns into amazement! A thin dough with a touch of aromatic sweetness crumbles under your teeth, fully loaded with whole cherry tomatoes and balls of cheese. The tomatoes explode as you bite them, the sauce is succulent and the cheese is not gooey or sticky. A kind of puff pastry combined with a pastry dough all in one without oil but with a certain smooth crunchiness topped with a foamy juice. Excellent is the least you can say!
- Roast beef sandwich: Thinly sliced meat in a seven cereal bread with rocket leaves, tomatoes, pickles and a spread of sauce. The bread is an experience on its own and the sliced meat is wonderful.
The lunch was delicious and left a great impression. Let's see if dessert is as good.
- Le Karnaval "Chocolate soufflé'. Dark chocolate with whipped cream. A baked exterior and a melting heart with a nice chocolate flavor without the sweetness. Very well done.
- Eton Mess: "A special dessert". Eton Mess, caramelized meringues and marshmallows, scoop of marbled vanilla or strawberry ice cream, strawberry coulis. A huge scoop of ice cream with whipped cream around it, caramelized marshmallows, a crunchy crumble of meringue biscuits, special biscuits, strawberry quarters and a rose petal with sugar on top. A strawberry sauce decorates the top for color and flavor.
I wasn't expecting to enjoy lunch that much. I loved the food, enjoyed the place and its decoration and will surely recommend it to my friends. I'll be back to try the rest of the menu.