You've surely noticed this black signboard dressing the building at the entrance of Gemmayze, marketing a new restaurant concept called "Bayrut Street Food". It makes you want to find out more about it...
When I heard about "Bayrut Street Food" I honestly didn't know what to expect. Is it a market, a fast food joint, a place that sells sandwiches, a "snack... Is it the "Beirut Street Food Festival Restaurant"?. Let's try and see what it is!
Occupying Fauchon's previous location is a new concept with a beautifully black decor with an open kitchen. The valet picks your key while you walk in. Fully booked on a Saturday, I had to wait at the bar while a table was being prepared; this took more time than I had expected.
The place is nicely done; a large square divided into a dining space, the sandwicheria on-the-go and the bar. An old style floor made of glazed concrete, walls covered with bricks, thick wooden tables and brushed columns under a metallic grill ceiling. Olive oil bottles, lemon, cucumbers, fresh vegetables and wine bottles decorate the space.
The first impression:
- The menu is too complicated for a street food concept. It looks like a Lebanese restaurant for me, nothing related to street food. Pictures are needed, less items, a clearer view of what the food is.
- Street food in Beirut is also about burgers and surely not a plate of stuffed grapevine leaves. But pizza is available in its dessert version... Strange!
- Music is not Lebanese for the "Beirut" name. Too young and too funky!
- Waiters are too young, they need serious training about their menu and even more training on how to walk and stand. The manager hands in his pockets walks around thinking he's down at the corniche.
As you sit, the table is set with individual branded plates and a paper placemats. An olive oil bottle, Zaatar and a basket of fresh bread.
On the menu:
- Morning chill
- The bayrut Mezze experience
- The bake house
- Green light
- House specialities
- That grill thrill
- Raw attitude
- The Bayrut exquisite rotisserie
- Sweet shots
- Sweet pizza the action
- Coffee & Tea
- Shawarma is made of two tender bread loafs filled with juicy soft meat, tarator and tomatoes. I'm not sure what it is but there is something extremely salty inside. Too soggy and too salty for a shawarma. The meat is too tender, it needs more body, more texture, more character.
- Cheese and Zaatar manakish, individual portions of them are fine like any street mankouche. Lightly chewy thin bread, salty Zaatar and salty cheese. I honestly expected a stronger taste, a thicker and fluffier dough... And a bigger portion of sambousik. I expected something exceptional from this restaurant's menu...
- Samak Bizri, largely sized fish served in a metallic pot with tarator on the side. The fish needs a bit more cooking to crunch, add lemon, dip in the tarator and enjoy. This is where more salt is needed!
- Hoorah! The hummus is delicious, beautifully texture, right acidity, the right amount of tahina and just about enough lemon. Two thumbs up for the Hummus!
- Tabbouleh is fresh, diced tomatoes, parsley bathing in their juice. Less juice needed please.
- Stuffed grapevine leaves arrived in a Lava stone pot. A revisited new-age version of stuffed grapevine leaves in a stone marmite. Well cooked, the "wara2 3ebnab" need more lemon, more salt and more flavor. The pot comes with Laban on the side; is that sour cream? Other than fine tuning the taste, the grapevines are overcooked.
- Kebbeh Zghertewiyyeh stuffed with fat and crushed mint; good enough but needs a bit more cooking.
- A plate of cold stuffed veggies, zucchini, grapevine and eggplant. These are good!
Verdict: A different concept. Probably too complicated for my understanding.
Now for dessert:
- Karabeej: when asked where do they get them from the answer was "we do them". I would say, you made a great choice getting them from "Chidiac", the king of karabeej; the staff needs to know and share truth.
- Knefeh served in a porcelain marmite looks so nice. The mouth watering melting Knefeh is good. The sugar syrup spoils the taste, it's too aromatic and too sweet.
- Mouhallabiya: extremely sweet! Why the sugar syrup? It ruined the whole experience. Anyway Mouhallabiya is super milky.
What I'll change and improve:
- Revisit the menu. Make it simple and clear. I believe photos are needed if the aim is to make this restaurant a landmark for tourists. Toursits and many locals don't know how our plates look like. Titles and names are too complicated and add no value.
- Waiters need serious training.
- If it's a Lebanese restaurant for the youth then change it's name.
- The food needs some attention, more flavor... That extra missing mile.
- Glass water bottles? I'm a fan of these bottles but they don't fit a "street food" place.
- Since smoking is not allowed change the ashtrays.
It's beautifully decorated space, a huge and interesting investment, a large choice of things to eat... Give Bayrut Street Food a try!
Still at its pre-opening phase, I'll be back in a month or two.