Welcome…foodies and epicureans alike, on a journey through life’s endless pleasures. This blog is dedicated to the few passions I have in life; Food, Flesh and Fun.

Though I have just recently started this blog, I will be posting experiences spanning almost a decade of decadence. So sit tight, and prepare to be assaulted with a smorgasbord of gore and bliss.

I do hope you enjoy the journey, and take everything with a pinch of salt ; )

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Al Baik

Here’s a restaurant chain that my fellow Saudi’s can be very proud of. Al Baik outlets are similar to KFC in concept, but they are a world away in quality and taste.

The only pity is that it’s only available in some parts of Saudi Arabia, with branches in Jeddah, Yanbu, Makkah and Medina.

Its broasted-style chicken is extremely tasty; a crispy crunchy exterior, with white meaty chicken that is moist and tender. I personally prefer the “7arrag version”, a fiery skin with a spicy laden interior.

It has become part of our routine when in Jeddah. Hanging out at ATF’s, ordering a few Baik meals, and watching a game. I’m sure this custom is shared by many, making this urban legend a true icon in Saudi lifestyle. I love it.


My passion for burgers is unreal. I have based 3-week road trips in the US around burger joints I wanted to try out. From Shake Shack to Burger Joint, the Spotted Pig to WhataBurger, Gramercy Tavern to Minetta Tavern. The latter is, in my opinion, the home of planet earth’s most delicious burger.

This is quite a bold statement coming from me. But consider this; I once took a 7 hour flight to NYC just because I was craving their flagship “Pat La Frieda Black Label burger”. But I will cover that experience in another post, another very lengthy post.

The only burger in Lebanon that even comes close to the Black Label burger is found at Brgr.co. And believe me, it comes real close. Housed in what used to be Tribeca in Monot, Brgr.co kept all the charm of the old joint. The first time I tried them out, I walked in around 11:30pm, 30 minutes before the kitchen closed. The chef game a look, and the service staff were less than pleased. Anyway, T. and I found a comfy table, and ordered the usual classic cheeseburger. To my surprise, they offer 2 sizes. The 4 ounce and 6 ounce. Moreover, they claim that the 6 ounce is made from their special butcher cuts. No prizes for guessing what I went for.

A few minutes later, our order came up. Very standard presentation: cardboard tray, chequered cloth paper, brown paper bag of fries, and to my pleasant surprise, toppings on the side. The burger comes naked, always sign of good things to come. And boy did they ever. The first bight, I remember it as if it were yesterday, literally exploded in my mouth. I was bombarded with a mouthful of meaty juices, coupled with heavily charred pieces of crust. The bun was having a hard time containing all the love oozing out of the fat patty. I was in burger heaven. The after taste of the burger stays with you long after you’ve left Brgr.co, and that’s a good thing.

Did I come back for more? Well let’s just say that for the next 7 days, I ate over 12 of their 6 ounce burgers. The week after, I brought everybody there, from friends to family. Ramzi the Chef even promised me a “customer of the month” portrait. Still waiting mate ; ) Hands down, the greatest burger this fine country has ever seen.

(Photos courtesy of Brgr.co)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Classic Burger Joint

Ok, now we’re treading on some very holy soil here. It’s no surprise to my close circle of friends, just how passionate I am about all things burger. That’s why when a few new players showed up on my block, claiming to serve “NY Style” burgers, my world had to stop, at least for a few hours.

One of these restaurants was Classic Burger Joint, run by Donald, which is always a plus in my book. I made my way with T. to Sodeco, and saw something truly unfathomable, in Lebanon at least. There was queue outside of CBJ, the first queue I’ve ever seen here. The pleasant Fadi took our names, and said we had a 15-20 minute wait. Still under the shock, I spent the time rudely looking through the front fa├žade of the place, eager to catch a glimpse of these elusive morsels.

All seemed quite normal. The interior sure looked the part, Brooklyn meets Beirut. But what about those burgers. We were finally seated, and by now I was basically salivating on our waiter’s arm. Ordered for the both of us, the Classic Cheese is always a great way to gauge a new burger joint. Took the time to look around and check out the faces, and saw a bit of everything. From teens in skanky-skinnies to suits in for a power lunch. Who knew this town was so burger mad. And then my babies arrived.

The first thing that struck me was the bun. Big, spongy, shiny and speckled with seeds, it provided a wonderful base for what was to come. I’m not a fan of toppings, but they were fresh and plentiful. The fries were crunchy and flavorsome. The patty was fat and substantial, but was not “meaty” enough for me. I’m a meat guy, so it’s got to taste like meat. Don’t get me wrong, they have all the right to claim to have some of the best burgers in town hands down, but it’s a little too civilized for me, a little to watered-down. Overall, it’s a personal joy for me to see these kinds of joints pop up around town. Well done boys on the venture, and I’ll be visiting you again real soon.

(Photos courtesy of CBJ)

Monday, August 2, 2010


Another love/hate relationship we have going on here. The problem is, is that I’m a sucker for great food, and would basically do anything, shy of selling my kidney, for a memorable dish.

Margherita serves some truly memorable pizza. Hands down, in my humble opinion, the best in Lebanon. The crust…OH THAT CRUST. Perfectly charred base, crispy edges and wonderful consistency. Don’t bother ordering anything else, the star here is the pizza.

Just ask my posse of Margherita aficionados: ATF, KSAF, STF, KSA, Chic, SMA and Monty. It’s their first port of call upon landing in Beirut.

Of course, you’re waiting for the “hate” part of this relationship. Well besides the ‘Evil Trinity’ that plagues many of Beirut’s best restaurants (no parking, claustrophobic setting, and bad service), this one suffers from another symptom. One of my old teachers at EHL put it so eloquently as: “if the fish smells, it’s usually from the head”. Need I say more ; )

Falafel Sahyoun

I've been eating at Falafel Sahyoun ever since my father first took me there in 1994.

One of oldest falafel shops in Beirut, this place has been around since the 1950s.

Nothing like downing two sandwiches to kill the buzz of an over-excited night out.

But try not get a taste of the family feud, careful there are not one, but two Falafel Sahyouns next to each other. Go figure which one's claim to be the first is legit.

Sunday, August 1, 2010


Mixed feelings about this place, very mixed. Food wise, I must admit that it does strike a few notes for originality and quality, especially on the Kabab with Cherries, and the Quail Eggs on Basterma.

But I have never actually enjoyed myself there. It’s almost impossible to find parking space outside (I rarely valet my babies), it’s an extremely stuffy environment (I do suffer from mild claustrophobia), and the service is not the friendliest in town; especially when I get the Maitre D’ giving me a lesson in the differences between Armenian and Lebanese food.

And to top it off, that old man with the guitar is a vision of death. Retire gracefully my friend, and leave us to eat in peace. But the food, oh that Kabab, is worth the pain. The real problem is that the moment my Saudi friends come to town, it goes without say that dinner is at Mayass at least a few times a week. Yalla, fadakom shabab.

Le Chef

WEEEELCOOOOOOME. Anyone who has ever been here will tell you, it’s a keeper.

From Charbel’s heartfelt welcome to the rustic, almost primitive settings and concept, this place was our daily lunch canteen while we had the Gemmayze office.

Granted, I wouldn’t drive all the way there just for a meal, but when you’re cruising past Gouraud Street during lunch time, do not miss the opportunity to try it out.

Locanda Corsini

Every time we want to renew our vows, there’s nothing like a weekend getaway at Locanda Corsini.

Nestled in the hills of Bikfaya, this boutique hotel has real charm, and its gem is the Italian restaurant overlooking the gardens.

I always start lunch with the antipasti, including the delicious Beef Tongue.

Depending on your luck, the chef could be in the mood to create something truly fabulous, like the Linguine al Vongole.

Winter time is especially quaint, sitting by the chimney. If you don’t get stuck in the snow on your way there that is.

Sushi Bar

Our favorite sushi joint for years. I can’t remember how many times we’ve eaten there, or how much we’ve spent on “special arrivals”. But it was worth every penny.

The site of countless business dinners, where sashimi ice boats flowed graciously one after another, showered copiously with sake, Sapporo beer and champagne.

When numerous, we sat at the lounge. When the missus and I wanted some tete-a-tete, we preferred the bar. I remember having a huge bash the night after our wedding, before heading out to Paris.

You want to see Albena’s eyes glimmer and shine, tell her we’re going to Sushi Bar tonight for dinner. A truly great place, which sadly lost its charm after consecutively losing its top talent.

Pizza Napoli "bel shmel"

What can say, there’s an old proverb that goes: “He who doesn’t think that the best pizzeria in the world is in his hometown is a sissy”. Alright, the saying really refers to hamburgers, but who’s checking.

In this case, it’s really true. This pizzeria in Kfarhazir, on the way to my wife’s rural village really does rule. I must admit, the smell of over-enhanced sweet dough, coupled with cheap tomato base sauce really does hit the spot sometimes. Especially when re-heated the morning of a hangover.

Tina, Albena, Kaissar, Ayman and Joey…this one is for you bayye ; )

Kabab Ji

One of the rare Lebanese franchises that I am truly proud of, Kabab-Ji never ceases to impress.

It's a little more stylish than most kebab shops and an extremely popular place to sit and sample fresh and delicious kebabs and grills.

VERY standardized, so you are always sure of the quality and presentation.

Sven my buddy from Zurich swears by it every time he's in town, and he's a picky little bugger ; )

Cocteau "Chic"

This is a very fancy French brasserie in Ashrafieh, where the walls are covered with French artists' doodles and there's a waiter per person. Tatler Magazine called Cocteau "the prettiest restaurant in Beirut." It has quickly become my favorite steak place since coming back from Lausanne. The Cote de Boeuf is sick, the pommes Dauphinoise is creamy, and their Fondant au Chocolat is heavenly. But this haunt has haunted me ever since it was the scene of an ugly company incident, when I was blackmailed by one of my old partners into buying them out. Shame though, a brilliant restaurant.