Direction: Gemmayze | Mission: To try one of the latest and best French bistros to open in Beirut to date - Paname. Paname, is the slang word used to describe downtown Paris. A casual word for a casual place where preparations are up to the standard of a fine dining restaurant experience in a laid back atmosphere. Fresh, authentic, simple and delicious French food, just like you have always dreamed of having outside of France. Paname is still in its soft opening stage until end of summer.
Divided into three distinct sections: The lounge area, closed garden as well as the well designed bar for drinks and food, Paname welcomes its guests into a warm yet modern interior. Although smoking is allowed in some parts of the restaurant, no ashtrays are on the table. A good and much appreciated gesture.
The Pre-Opening Menu:
Starters, salads, sandwiches, main course, from the grill and desserts. A fair choice of Tartare, Smoked Salmon, Goat Cheese Salad, Endive Roquefort, Croque Monsieur, French Club, Slow Cooked Burgundy Beef and Mussels - all you need to get a glimpse of the Paris experience in your teeth. Choose from their large variety of local wines and you're set. Unfortunately there wasn't a single french or international proposition on the wine list, but I am assuming they will become available as their final menus are released.
- Fresh tuna tartare marinated in soy sauce, with sesame oil and lime juice.
- Fresh endive, poached pear, Roquefort and roasted walnuts, topped with Porto dressing.
- Pan-fried salmon, spicy lentil, served with sweet balsamic syrup.
- Boeuf Bourguignon, slowly cooked Burgundy beef with carrots, onions and button mushrooms. Served with pommes a la Dauphinoise.
Warm bread and butter were served to start.
Expect to go on a gastronomical trip while at Paname. Details of the food:
- Tuna tartare is fresh, cut in small cubes, mixed with cucumber cubes, capers and black sesame seeds. Accompanied with ginger, avocado and slices of sweet orange peel. A very nice mixture and a successful dish.
- The Roquefort and endive salad is delicious. It's the first time I enjoy such a fresh salad with Porto dressing covering the generous mix of cheese, poached pears and endives. Some cherry tomatoes decorate the dish nicely. Every bite is a pleasure on it's own. An adequate dose of sweetness is felt without making it feel like a dessert platter. Bravo!
- The beef Bourguignon is awesome: finally some decent French bistro cuisine in Lebanon. I really enjoyed my meal from the smell to the last bite. Carrots are perfectly cooked, soft tasty onions add flavor, broccoli with the gratin was just right, and all together served at perfect temperature.
- The pan-fried salmon served on a bed of lentils is to die for. Topped with sun dried tomatoes, each bite is amazing. Even better than the one found at Salmontini, the specialist. I won't say more!
Dessert: I ordered the Chocolate Mousse. Three layers of chocolate mousse sandwiched between two layers of sponge cake all covered with a thick layer of dark chocolate. Topped off with a strawberry, the sumptuous looking cake is presented on a plate decorated with strawberry couli. Every bite melts between your tongue and palate exploding many sensations forcing you to close your eyes and utter: Mmmm!
The Music - The Perfect Depression Recipe:
But I have to mention one negative point if I may, and that's the music. We walked into Paname while Edith Piaf was playing in the background followed by other authentic French music. So far so good. Then the music suddenly changed to lounge music with a beat - inappropriate for the whole ambiance. Soon after followed a woman yelling in pain and agony... You can't but stop and think - what is going on... Buddha Bar CD is often played in the background when you don't know what type of music to play. But it's not made or eating. We were then bid good-bye with an oriental lounge music... What people don't realize is that the type of music accompanying every bite makes or breaks the experience. I would reconsider the music choice and fast.
In a nutshell: Paname is an amazing place, serves amazing food at affordable prices - offering a nice Parisian experience to many.