January 06, 2015 Lebanon Middle East

2014: The Finest Pain Perdu in Lebanon

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The Gordon's Cafe Exquisite Delicacy

The pain perdu at Gordon’s is to die for… I wish I discovered it earlier. A perfectly round piece of bread, airy and light, is topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, walnuts and caramel on the side. Add the great, consistent caramel and indulge in a fine piece of a heavenly creation. A soft bun that melts under your teeth like ice on a hot surface, soaked in milk and eggs without being sweet and without dripping around. Close your eyes and be transported into a world of wonders. A fine softness caresses your palate while the crunch provided by the fresh almonds differentiate this pain perdu from all others in town. Warm and soothing, wait until you reach the ice cream, that’ll wake you up! Beware of moaning indistinctly… I’d heard that Gordon’s pain perdu was awesome but I was not expecting something like that. A must try for sure.

Couqley: Simplicity is Sometimes Better

Couqley has been a favorite in Beirut, providing a real French bistro experience in a setup that will transport you to the streets of Paris. I sat in one of the corners and enjoyed the vibes this restaurant has to offer. It was Pain Perdu time. On a round plate a large piece of square bread, nicely soaked in milk, perfectly cooked and covered with a layer of crunchy, caramelized sugar, was served. To top it all, caramel sauce covers the mix in style. Awesome to say the least. That’s a real, simple pain perdu, exactly as it should be and as the French created it. I loved it and consider it to be one of the finest in town.

Prune: Le Pain Retrouve, One of the Best in Town

Lebanon is truly an amazing country and regardless of anything that goes on – the positive vibes prevails and a great example to this is the continuous opening of new restaurants – places that are exceptional in many ways. One such place is Prune, a French bistro that boasts the feel of its neighborhood, Mar Mikhael. Old meets new, innovation meets restoration, good food meets amazing ambiance… keeping it real, Prune pays tribute to its surrounding. Someone has found the real taste of French toast. Le Pain Retrouvé, a signature of Prune that is one of the best Pain Perdus I’ve had to date in Lebanon. Le Pain Retrouvé: Two large bricks of bread covered with caramel sauce served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Slightly crunchy on the outside and inside is softer and tenderer filled with milk, butter and sugar that’s blend perfectly together. Some almonds decorate this plate soaking in a caramel sauce that’s not sweet and rich in flavors. Two thumbs up.

La Petite Maison: The Mediterranean Twist of This Famous Dessert

At La Petite Maison, you are guaranteed a great experience. This unique restaurant, which has opened in some of the world’s most beautiful cities, including Nice, London and Dubai and recently Beirut, offers a culinary adventure like no other. I’ve tried La Petite Maison over six times all around the world and after every visit I leave happy and satisfied. The two pain perdu bricks… Bread carefully crafted covered with a layer if thick crunchy caramel hiding the soft and tender bun inside. Every detail is carefully mastered to perfection in a fine classy way. Lovely!

Alesia: Almonds and Caramel Pain Perdu

Many casual French bistros have mushroomed around town, but finding a high-end French dining spot is rare. You sometimes want to enjoy a high-end ambiance with a loved one in a cozy spot. Taking over what used to be the Lutecia in Saifi village, Alesia is now open for French food aficionados. Just imagine a different and fine dining version of the Pain Perdu. Two slices of bread, soaked in eggs and milk to perfection then covered with a caramel layer mixed with crunchy almonds. Every bite guarantees amazement.

Goutons Voir: Blocks of Fine Enjoyable Textures

I’ve been touring around the country this past month looking for the best pain perdu and 10 orders later, I can fairly say that Goutons Voir’s is good. Served in two blocks like Prune, the pain perdu’s juicy heart is good, milky, adequately buttery and tasty. The caramel sauce adds certain sweetness, but it’s not enough. A bit more sweetness is needed and it would be better if the borders were burnt less.

The Diplomat Lounge: Food and Desserts are Simply Exquisite

Julia’s was one of the first high-end restaurants in town and I’m happy that this little bistro is still surviving and doing great. Julia’s has an exceptional yet simple pain perdu made, as is, without sophistication. Square piece of bread, perfectly cooked, well marinated with caramel sauce and ice cream vanilla scoop tops it all. It looks amazing and tastes even better… Julia’s is part of my top 3 best Pain Perdu in Lebanon.

TOTO’s Dark Chocolate Stuffed Pain Perdu

Toto, fine Italian restaurant and pizzeria, welcomes Italian food aficionados into a cozier 50’s ambiance in a trendy modern setup, all within a preserved authentic Lebanese house. On a round plate comes a square piece of bread, three centimeters thick, bathing in caramel sauce. Cut a piece to enjoy a sticky envelop while the heart, juicy and tender is adequately sweet and enjoyable. A mouthwatering pain perdu... But the experience is far from being done. In the middle a surprise awaits. A dark Valhrona chocolate, trapped inside is guaranteed to give you a memorable moment. A spongy sweet dough, a caramelized envelop, sweetness... And inside a chocolate that equilibrated the mix. This is an original pain perdu.

Casablanca’s Unique Organic Fruity French Toast

Popular for its Sunday brunches, Casablanca prepares great food using organic products from eggs to vegetables to jams and cheese… all produced in-house. Let’s try their French Toast. I was in awe when the plate landed on the table. Filled with a rectangular piece of thick bread, the round plate was meticulously decorated with a mix of bananas, apples and strawberries. Maple syrup gives it that extra flavor. This is a dessert I loved; A sumptuous thick premium piece of bread topped and stacked with maple syrup, slightly crunchy on the borders and chewy inside, married with the fruits … Yum an unforgettable experience.

Balthus: A Reference Point, If I May Say

A round piece of bread, soaked in milk, is homogenously cooked and toped with a layer of caramelized sugar. The journey starts by a crack while the sugar brakes, opening the road to the wonders below. A milky bread that’s not soggy, not too milky, that doesn’t smell eggs, and enjoyable to the last millimeter. I loved its inner moisture and juiciness and its sweetness that’s just perfect. Next to that is a chunk of vanilla ice cream, which is also very good. Best for last is the caramel sauce mixed with cooked, diced apples, a sauce that was thick, full-bodied and not too sweet. In a couple words, everything constituting this plate is just perfect except its presentation which can be improved.




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