For the past decade or so, Al Halabi restaurant in Antelias has maintained its reputation as one of the top ranking Lebanese restaurants in town. A restaurant with a history that has developed with the times. The owners, a man and his wife, made sure to be present daily to welcome guests to their establishment, as well as be available to fine-tune the operations of this unique place which serves the best Lebanese food you can imagine tasting. Al Halabi's name has been written in history with creations others copied...
Al Halabi has always been my second home, my home away from home. It's a restaurant I visit on a weekly basis for its unique and tasty food combined with professional service by waiters who grew up with the establishment. I am served today by the same staff who took care of my father years back. The food, the comfort and the legacy is why I come...
Finally, Lebanon has implemented a civilized law banning smoking in public places. This law is amazing, especially in small places with low ceilings and bad ventilation systems like Al Halabi. I was happy as the place has become more ideal to visit and enjoy good food with my pregnant wife and daughter.
Today, choosing Al Halabi for lunch may not have been the best choice. I was shocked at what I saw and experienced.
The place was full of impolite and uneducated people smoking as if this was a normal and legal thing to do. And the best or should I say worst part is that the management was offering the Arguile (Shisha) to all their guests, on all tables without any restrictions.
What a shame! We were suffocating during lunch and nobody even cared!
Asking the waiter about the cigarette ban he replied:
"Smoke my friend, smoke, do what ever you want!" Unbelievable!
What a shame! What a sadness! What a disgrace!
If Mr. Halabi, who sadly passed away a few months ago, was alive, he would have not accepted such a thing to happen.
I understand the fact that many are complaining about the smoking ban that has been implemented and its effect on their business. I understand that the Syndicate of Restaurants and Cafe Owners together with these places are trying to reach a middle ground. But is this a way. Is this civilized?
Today, sadly, was the last visit to my favorite Lebanese restaurant. For me what I experienced was disrespect to their clients, those who come and enjoy the legacy. What I saw today was not what I am used to... they were very disrespectful thinking they can make their own laws - for what? Is it to please a few customers, who I believe are uneducated to have done and promoted such a thing? Or to make a few extra dollars?
Good manners and professional obligation towards the customers:
- They want to make their restaurant available for smoking, I don't mind but that should have been mentioned when we reserved. I would have changed to another restaurant especially that I am coming with my 1 year old daughter.
- The least they can do is divide the restaurant into two distinctive sections, one for smokers and another for non smokers and respect those who don't plan on dying from second hand smoking.
Back to the food, Al HALABI restaurant is still serving a perfect food quality:
Makdouss, Waraa Aarich, Tabbouleh, Chanklish, Mixed pickles, Hendbeh, Hommos, Mouhammara, Kebbe Nayye with Mouhammassa, Fresh vegetables platter
Moutabbal with pomegrenades, Batrakh, French fries, Cheese rolls, sambousik, Chicken liver, Makanek, Meat skewers, Khechkhach.
"The food is really unique and delicious. Expect to eat the best Hummus ever"
- Termoss and Peanuts are offered to start
- The head waiter prepared some cut lettuce for us to eat with the Tabbouleh
- The waiters are very helpful
- Its the first time a Credit card machine is brought at the table in a restaurant working wireless. A very professional initiative.
- I like it when there is fabric table napkin. Paper tissue is not enough and Al Halabi has it.
- I like their big round plates
- The place is over noisy. The perfect migraine recipe.
- People were smoking in a country where smoking, in closed and public spaces is banned. What a disgrace.
- Waiters are brutal, pushing chairs, throwing plates on the tables one over the other and working in a rush. Its frustrating.
- I hate it when Egyptian unprofessional waiters, call their respectful clientele (Rayyess or Mouallem). It's Khaweja or Estez: Let them keep their street expressions on the street.
You cannot imagine the shock I experienced today. I would have excepted everyone to do such a thing but not Al Halabi. Is this what the Syndicate of Restaurant and Cafe Owners wants? Re-integrating smoking in restaurants in this disgraceful irrespecutful manner?
There is a solution and it can be reached, but please don't do it the typical "Lebanese" way...