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Al Sultan Brahim Beirut: An Impressive Space
It's a restaurant with a rich history, a restaurant I used to visit on Jal el Dib highway before it opened its iconic location in Maameltein. Al Sultan Brahim has taken it even further by opening its latest baby in downtown Beirut.
A landmark, a huge space, a fine design, Al Sultan Brahim will impress you as you walk in. Wooden stripes decorate the walls, a dozen trees, a bright yet cozy ambiance blending class with simplicity under one roof.
Tonight I'm having dinner at Al Sultan Brahim with an exclusive visit to the kitchen many consider to be one of the Middle East's finest.
The kitchen visit was simply astonishing. More than 750 square meters of space, a state of the art installation where several individual rooms each have their own purpose. The appetizers are all prepared a la minute, no salad is prepared ahead of time, there's a fried fish section and another on for fresh fish. A dozen fryers, each for one item of the menu. A 82,000 euro oven for the fish and the latest in fish frying technology, to remove all the oily taste, while maintaining a perfect color and the taste of the fish.
My tour took an hour and I had the chance to look at the smallest of details that create an outstanding restaurant, I would probably refer to it as the Burgundy of Lebanese seafood restaurants.
Look at the details; Ladies welcome you at the entrance, a professional and trained staff takes care of the service. A floor dedicated for restrooms, a thousand square meter terrace. High-end materials used around the space and a digital balance for the fish.
Food is served:
- Beautiful and unconventional plates presented in a classy way where food is king, where Lebanese specialties are mastered to perfection for the last sixty years. Stuffed grapevines leaves, tender and soft with a condensed heart of well cooked rice and a light, faded acidity. Lemon leaves an end note.
- The balila is simply cooked chickpeas, olive oil and cumin. Simplicity at its finest, an enjoyable plate.
- Bottarga like you've never tasted before. Zaatar blends perfectly in this plate adding a strength and saltiness. I loved it.
- Hamachi sashimi. As good as it should be, imported and fresh.
- Squid in its ink. Tender and flavorful with a touch of spiciness, served with pine nuts.
- The tabbouleh is excellent, probably one of the tastiest plates. Lemony, tangy, acidic and strong with a little bit of onions.
- Hummus is the star. The star which has taken the restaurant to the fame it has today. Extremely mashed, like whipped cream, rich like chocolate and smooth like butter. Tahina that caresses your palate while the chickpea flavor explodes with hidden love. Lemon as it should be and lots of passion felt in every bite.
- The crab salad is a best seller and you'll know why when you taste it. A perfect marinade and a great quality.
- The local octopus is so yum. Tender and flavorful at the same time.
- Hummus akkari: Oh my god! The flavor and texture with those white pine nuts on top.
- The bread is also worth talking about. Try it frozen, it's excellent. Thin, not chewy, flour covers it with a faded, fresh sweetness.
- The combination of fresh crab and purslane is exceptional. Olive oil for a fine marination and you're there. The simplicity of these plates are amazing.
- Very good and very fresh Fattouch.
- The hummus DT is simply made of whole hummus, Al Sultan hummus and shatta red spicy sauce with lots of pine nuts. Kudos for the combination.
- Try the shrimp with ginger and soy sauce served with basmati. A lovely blend of spiciness, juiciness, taste and enjoyment.
More is yet to come:
- Samak ras asfour. Chunks of fish marinated in their lemony sauce before biting into the crispy fish.
- Back in the kitchen I was introduced to the state of the art fish fryers. Thousands of dollars spent on a machine to cook a golden fish with a juicy heart devoured as is with its bones. Oil-free and fresh, best enjoyed with sea salt and lemon.
- Eighty thousand Euros invested into a unique oven to cook fish. Yes, it is worth it. Delicious fish, add lemon and olive oil, sprinkle it with salt, a bit of pepper, and enjoy.
Now that dinner was done it was dessert time. Even dessert had a classy approach. Six plates landed in front of us. Nammoura, maamoul mad, chocolate biscuit cake and three plates of fruits. Strawberries marinated in their sauce, pineapples and raisins.
What else can be said? The experience was memorable.