The best time to visit famous establishments and enjoy the experience is in the afternoon; when the parking is empty, the staff is relaxed, the ambiance is calm and the kitchen ready to take its time to prepare your plate. It starts when you walk the alley, fresh aromas of spring in Jounieh, odors of nature’s perfumes... trees and greenery welcoming you with all their power before entering the iconic old house over viewing one of the world’s most beautiful bay.
My last visit was more than two years ago at the opening until I revisited again, on this beautiful afternoon, waiting for the sun to dive into the Mediterranean. A beautiful old house, white marble, lines of pink and blue, impressive chandeliers, mosaic and bulky wooden structures. Outside, a set of tables, huge tree trunks and more greenery to enchant your senses. This place feels good; much more than a restaurant, it’s an experience for all your senses.
Unfortunately the first impression is not what I expected. Waiters are not smiling, some talking on their phone, others seated at the bar, a hostess even made it clear that she was busy sending emails.
With smooth jazz playing in the background, I sat for a calm dinner, an early meal before dark haunts the valley. Peugeot salt and pepper mills, a basket of hot bread, butter and olive tapenade while I ordered.
On the menu: les galettes, salads and starters, meat and poultry, fish, risotto and pasta, accompaniments, crepes, desserts and drinks.
Food is good!
- The goat cheese salad is different: crunchy slices of bread covered with warm goat cheese. Sweet figs, balsamic vinegar, ripe avocados, fresh mushrooms, and arugula. I loved the different textures, the raspberry sweetness, the spinach leaves, the oiliness of the toast and the goat cheese quality.
- Spinach Galette with ricotta cheese, a triangular buckwheat crepe rolled around cream and spinach then cooked in the oven, in its plate, which comes extremely hot to the table. A heart of molten cheese, cooked tomato paste, béchamel sauce and tomato coulis. A tender dough, a creamy heart with acidic notes, a kick the tomato couli gives, and shredded spinach. Yummy indeed.
- Tagliatelle with chicken and mushrooms with white sauce. Cooked al-dente, the pasta is good but; the plate is small, and the portion looks minimal. The sauce is way too heavy to be finished by one person. The saltiness is disturbing. So: use a bigger plate with the same portion of it not to feel like a dessert plate. Less cream and smoother creaminess. “That plate is way too heavy.”
Wait! Is this for real? The dessert crepe is not a creation of this world for sure! I have never imagined having a crepe with Lebanese Influences, loaded with Kashta, showered with hot sugar syrup, and decorated with sheets of Halawat el Jeben. Inside the crepe, crushed green pistachio add the needed crunch, aromas of rose water turn the dessert into a masterpiece while the rose flowers add a charm to the plate. “This is surreal, this unique, this is memorable.” Bravo chef for such a creation that covered for the other plates and for the service that needs a lot of upgrading.
Loved the vibes, loved the mood, the music, and the desserts. Enjoyed the food but not the service. Better attention, a better hostess, quicker service and more people smiling.