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Abou Joseph: Jal el Dib’s Old Restaurant is Not Good Anymore
Having occupied its premium location for more than three decades, Abou Joseph is the restaurant you pass by everyday while going to work. Nestled in the heart of Lebanon, on our county’s busiest highways, Jaledib, this small restaurant is known for its sandwiches and authentic Lebanese food.
I always asked myself, “Why go searching for new places to discover when there are old ones that still offer a guaranteed good experience?”
After more than five years of wanting to do so, I decided to give this place a try... I tagged my friend along and off we went.
Park your car in front of Abou Joseph. The restaurant has two doors; the left one which leads to the grill and sandwicheria area, while the right one is for a direct access to the seating area. Joseph, the waiter and not the owner's son, who has been working here for more than 32 years, welcomes you to the place he calls home.
Abou Joseph is more of a street style diner than a restaurant, a terrace transformed into a dining space overlooking the highway. The grill on the other hand, welcomes sandwich cravers all day, and you can enjoy fine rolls of grilled meat, chicken, kebab and makanek to name but a few.
Find white table covers decorated with beige ones, white porcelain plates, low ceiling, white lighting and a shisha display... Everything was just the same as when the place first opened.
The menu, where the prices have been increased, serves a selection of simple Lebanese choices without any sophistication: cold mezze, hot mezze, raw meat, salads and grills.
With a small bottle of Arak Brun (I'm not sure about its authenticity much), a plate of nuts, a bottle of water and the usual breadbasket, we were ready to start eating.
Let's have dinner:
- Stuffed grapevine leaves: Lovely rolls, perfectly stuffed, offering an interesting sour and lemony flavor along with tender ingredients. A generous portion of tasty creations.
- Tabbouleh: Good old genuine tabbouleh that's good, fresh, perfectly cut, professionally mixed and enjoyable.
- Hummus: Hummus at Abou Joseph is different. It contains a tiny bit of garlic that you don’t really notice, and offers a harder consistency than normal hummus. A good one you'll enjoy.
- Labneh: Since the Labneh offered on the menu contains garlic, I asked for one without it. An excellent, hard, consistent and fresh Labneh which I'd recommend; one of my favorite plates that day.
- Chicken Liver: This is something to try for sure. Simply cooked without any sweet sauce or complicated mixes, large pieces of chicken liver marinated in lemon and oil and cooked to perfection, becoming soft like a sponge. So juicy and so tasty, they melt under your teeth like butter. I ate them as is, without bread, in order to feel each and every piece of them.
- Sambousik: Cooked the old way. Spongy dough filled with meat.
- Kebbe: I loved the Kebbe's dough envelope, which tastes great, and was crunchy and super thin, but unfortunately the core could have been filled more generously. The meat was stuck together in a ball, leaving gaps around the edges. It's trial and error to bite into some of those.
- Grilled makanek: As good as you’d expect, those fatty little fingers were perfectly cooked and enjoyable to the last bit.
- Meat: Forget about the fat, forget about your cholesterol levels and indulge in some tender pieces of fatty meat that melt under your teeth like butter. The same goes for the kebab, which was great but fatty.
At Abou Joseph, the decor is old, the ambiance is rustic and the food is served without any sophistication. Don't expect to be amazed, but rather to eat some good food that might take you back down memory lane of your childhood. Consider it street food with no comparison with the big names.
Smoking in here is allowed, so I'll keep my kids away from this closed space. Dinner was nice, but not as exceptional as I was expecting it to be, honestly. Was expecting amazement...