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Burj el Hamam: After Lunch, Came Dinner
When you say Lebanese food, a few choices come to mind. Places, I believe, have been serving real authentic Lebanese mezze for the last twenty years include Al Halabi, Mounir, Al Sultan Brahim, Mhanna and Karam, and of course let’s not forget the famous Burj El Hamam, the ambassador of Lebanese food in almost all Arab capitals.
I'm not sure why, but some like Burj El Hamam and others don't. I came here prepared to discover bad service and average food... I left happy, satisfied and amazed by the professionalism of the staff, the food's taste and an ambiance that is bettered by none.
Welcome to Burj El Hamam Broumana, welcome to this gigantic structure divided into numerous sections and able to host events and large gatherings. Down the stairs is the welcoming area, or the dance floor for weddings and the famous crystal chandelier. Continue straight ahead to reach the terrace where summer days are spent around the freshness of the forest. A colorful space filled with blue and green fluorescent chairs and violet table covers. Shocking at first.
As we sat, you can't but take a moment to look around at the little details of this relaxing space. While a light wind caress your cheeks, take the time to enjoy the view, the high pergolas, the colorful tables, the engraved napkins, the fans for those hot summer days, while some old music plays smoothly in the background. The first impression was as good as you’d expect from such a famous place.
Freshly baked bread, some arak and we were ready to plunge in...
We ordered a large selection of mezze, 16 if I counted well:
- The Batnjen or eggplant purée: Perfectly seasoned, surely freshly made, and decorated with bits of pomegranate.
- Tabbouleh: The tabbouleh was fresh but was also my least favorite of all. Served warm, the salad was way too oily.
- White cheese with mint leaves: I love this cheese, which should be a point of pride for the Lebanese. Homemade white goat cheese enjoyed with some mint leaves; a moist, yet not watery, cheese that takes you up the mountains to where the shepherds once produced fine creations.
- Stuffed vine leaves: Just great. A juicy and tender portion of stuffed vine leaves filled with a perfectly cooked mix seasoned with lemon juice. They melt under your teeth like butter in style and finesse.
- Hummus with meat: Just as good as you’d expect it to be. A plate of hummus topped with warm meat that's so tender that you won't even feel it sliding under your teeth. With that, some pine nuts and the oil they’re fried in add a fine taste, and surely fat: But who cares?
- Sambousik: Excellent! Thin, crunchy, fully loaded with minced meat and pine nuts, those bites were excellent. The kebbe was as good, an overdose of berghol, which I found interesting.
- Fried birds: I know, many of you find it inhumane to eat the small, fried birds but for me, the quality of those little things tells you a lot about a restaurant. Cleaned, fried, seasoned and ready to put a smile on your face, they are so tender, crunching smoothly and erupting with flavor.
- Chards or sele2 leaves: Stuffed with the same mix as the vine leaves.
- Chicken liver: A generous plate of chicken liver chunks perfectly seasoned with lemon juice, giving them a tender, soft feel.
- Fried cheese rolls: Love in every bite.
It was all just good and tasty, as you’d expect it to be. I went on aTuesday, a calm day; I hope the service and quality are the same on a weekend.
After that, we were offered a selection of fruits, ashta, honey and date jam. What a great way to end lunch, a lunch that took more than three hours while time passed us by.
I enjoyed Burj El Hamam Broumana and left happy, not feeling heavy but remembering this tasty lunch I'd surely repeat.