On October 9th, 2012, I published a great review about Kerim's Fusion Cuisine, a place which I imagined will be expanding across malls all over Lebanon, and which offered, back then, a wide menu of delicious items, prepared in a fresh, new way. I remember falling in love with the place, its manager, and food, while I wrote about my experience.
"The place is simple, yet very professionally furnished with its glass tables, its wooden red and orange tissue-covered chairs and Kerim’s story artistically crafted with a couple of drawings on the walls: It’s a story about a journey of taste, inspired by flavors from all four corners of the world, from homemade recipes to their own personal touch, bringing together culinary talents, a passion for food, discovery and memories, all of which results in a delicious fusion.” Two years have passed and Kerim's have decided to change the concept from their longstanding fusion café style, perfectly situated in a mall at the entrance to the movies, to that of an express eatery. I rarely see customers sitting there, but despite that, I decided to give it a try, remembering my last experience, which was simply great.
My first impressions:
- A one man show, where one waiter handles the cleaning, the service, the drinks, the crepes and the orders
- The chairs, still the same since they first opened, are now way too dirty
- The tables are also dirty, covered with grease and fingerprints
- A dull ambiance haunts the place
- The menus are too cheaply produced and are wrapped in nylon
- Glass ashtrays, chipped on the sides decorate the tables as if smoking was still allowed
The waiter definitely deserves a raise. Spending his days here from 10am until 10pm, he manages to handle the place all by himself. He's so attentive and welcoming, but unfortunately overwhelmed by the orders that all come together on a Sunday between 1 and 2pm.
- Salted crepes
- Kaak asroune
- Kids menu
- Milkshake and juices
- Hot coffee
- Cold coffees
- Alcoholic drinks
Trying to kill some time, I noted events as they happened:
- 14:09: We reached Kerim’s
- 14:12: We received the menus
- 14:16: We ordered
- 14:29: We received our placemats
- 14:40: We received the crepe
- 14:49: We received the food
Here, I would like to point out one thing. On the menu, you read: "New menu, fresh food, small prices". Yes, indeed, small prices compared to the old ones, but the portions are also way smaller. A club sandwich, which used to be LBP21,000, is now only LBP15,000: A portion that's smaller, without the pickles and without the fries. So I think it's still the same when you take it all into account. In my opinion, those small portions don't work in a mall. The same goes for the burger. Let's eat:
- Meat burger LBP9,500: The burger, which doesn't look too appetizing, unfortunately tastes like kafta. Some might say, it's the taste of homemade burger, which in my opinion is not. Meat that's too kaftaiish, too much mayonnaise, uncooked fries and a lightly chewy bun. Next to that comes a tiny portion of uncooked, oily fries. My three-year-old daughter ate a bite, a single one, and stopped.
- Club sandwich LBP15,000: The club sandwich is fine. I liked the way the eggs were fried, the softness of the chicken breast, and the layer of mayonnaise adds the needed juiciness to the mix. Four pieces filled with chicken, fried eggs, lettuce, ham, cheese and tomatoes. The middle layer of bread and the fries are removed making the sandwich's price lower then the market.
- Ham and cheese crepe LBP 9,500: Presentation-wise, it’s cut into tiny little bits, it doesn't whet your appetite. A strong, sweet smell takes over your nostrils and it’s a bit intriguing. As for the taste, other then the sweet feel hidden somewhere, the dough is too thick and chewy and the cheese too oily. Not something I enjoyed.
- Chef's Salad LBP13,500: A salad is salad, that usually cannot be done badly. This one could have been better if the lettuce was cut into bigger pieces, they were too tiny and they escaped our forks. On the other hand, I liked the quality of the chicken, which is also used in the club sandwich.
To be honest, I'm not sure this concept fits in a mall, especially at ABC. Everything was just perfect when they first opened, so why the change? The bad:
- The specials blackboards were empty, pushing customers away
- The ice was served in a small salad bowl. Not too appetizing
- The portions were small and the presentation unappetizing
- The ketchup bottle has been brought back from world war II
If I could fix things:
- Keep all tables covered with placemats at all times, showing that the place is prepared to welcome guests
- Clean the chairs and change their fabric
- Create a signature item, something that will make people come back
- Fries are a must, with all plates
- One additional waiter is needed, urgently
Casper&Gambini's or Lina's are always busy at ABC and I'm sure, with some attention, Kerim's can be the same. Now I understand why people stopped talking about this place... I still believe in this concept, one that occupies a premium location where thousands of people pass by every day. Some serious attention is needed to make it come alive again.