CHECK OTHER REVIEWS FOR THIS PLACE:
Al-Halabi, Antelias: Mistakes Happen for a Reason
Al Halabi: A Revamped Look... Same Old Taste
Al Halabi Lebanese Restaurant, Antelias
Al Halabi: A Restaurant to Make You Fall in Love with Lebanese Food
Al Halabi: The Real Flavors of Lebanese Mezze
Al Halabi: New Decor, New Staff and The Same Great Taste!
One of my favorite restaurants is Al Halabi. The place where I have been going to enjoy some tasty Lebanese food. Been there dozens of times and every time I go the same quality and taste are guaranteed without any surprises.
Al Halabi is Al Halabi. Al Halabi is authentic, clean, and tasty with no added twists. It serves pure Lebanese food, no fusion and no added, sophisticated creations. Located on the Antelias roundabout, Al Halabi, one of Lebanon’s oldest names in the country known for the same quality, taste and service for the past few decades, is a reference for Lebanese as well as tourists alike.
Take a couple of stairs up to the restaurant and be welcomed by one of Al Halabi's old waiters, the same ones who served my parents. Maitre Michel, the boss around here, knows his customers by name. With a smile on his face, he welcomes you and makes sure you leave happy.
To the left, a woman prepares some freshly baked Saj bread. I love that at Al Halabi. It’s one of their charms. Stationed every day in the dining room area, the woman prepares saj bread the traditional way: Stretch a piece of dough in a thin circle, flop it on a straw-stuffed cushion and flip it onto a hot iron saj. The bread is tasty and fresh, and made all the better by the sight of its preparation.
The architectural details:
- Up the stairs is a new section occupying the left side.
- A waterfall adds a charm to the terrace.
- Black chairs differentiate the outdoor space from the classy indoor wooden ones.
- Beige tablecloths cover all tables.
- A glass curtain separates the smoking area from the inside non-smoking one.
- The outside walls are painted in green and burgundy colors.
- Rocks cover the main wall against which the water cascades fall.
- The Saj woman is now at the corner of the terrace producing live tasty bites.
- A glass and metallic ceiling allows natural light to enter in style.
To show Al Halabi’s commitment to their clients here are two stories that show a glimpse of how they work:
Let me remind you of some facts. When the smoking law was implemented in Lebanon and as the result of one simple review on NoGarlicNoOnions, Al Halabi made the effort to divide the restaurant into smoking and non-smoking sections, which transformed it into a large space where the smoking section sat out on the terrace near the waterfalls and the non-smoking section inside the closed space.
Imagine that, a couple of years ago; they removed their famous Mhalbiye, just because the chef who used to make them left. They didn’t want to give their customers a different or less than perfect taste... After they have perfected it in-house again they reintroduced it back to the menu.
Now for the food, everything is just delicious.
- I love the tabbouleh, freshly cut and with an intense, lemony taste. The concentration of parsley is so enjoyable and the minimal use of borghol.
- The mouhammara is light, smooth and offering a light sweet flavor. It will be enjoyed by anyone who is introduced to this plate. All the ingredients are perfectly measured.
- Mouhammara, sweet and spicy nut puree; and slices of mild, orange-colored caviar.
- Hummus! Some say it's the finest in Lebanon and I might agree on that. Smooth, light, no excess of tahini and some fine, enjoyable flavors caress your palatial buds as it enters your throat. The hummus lived up to its reputation: A fluffy nuttiness that split the tongue’s focus between its creamy texture and rich buttery flavor. The moutabbal – smashed, grilled eggplant with tahini and lemon juice – had a similar smoothness interrupted by fibrous eggplant and bursts of tangy pomegranate seeds.
- One of my favorite plates here is the stuffed grapevine leaves. A fresh, hard envelop, tasty filling and lemony aftertaste that stays around for a long time.
- I won't write a review about the vegetable platter, but this one is superb. It's freshness; color and the crunchiness of the vegetables are worth a few words.
- Ufff... The homemade French fries, perfectly salted, crunchy on the sides and fluffy inside, are awesome!
- Hummus with meat is as good as it should be; the same premium hummus with tender meat cubes and grilled pine nuts.
- Makanek in their lemon juice, tender and moist.
- Yummy! The grilled cheese rolls are exceptionally amazing! Even though they are grilled, they are crunchy and the filling is so juicy and fresh.
- As simple as it can be, the labneh with its hard texture and authentic taste is good to order.
The only thing I didn't enjoy were the birds soaked in pomegranate sauce. It tasted bitter and the birds were too hard and dry which left the bones unpleasant to eat.
After lunch we were offered sweets and fruits as usual. Thankfully their famous Mhalabiye is back. I love Mhalabiye - its one of my favorite Lebanese sweets.
All was perfect, just like the first time I ate there and that was more than 20 years ago…