I never wrote a complete review about Al Saniour before, not because the food is not good because it surely is but because I'm not a fan of Arguileh and smoky places. When I go out to eat, I would like to do so in a fresh and clear-aired environment. Al Saniour does have a wide choice of tasty bites - trying it was a must.
Located in Antelias, Al Saniour is more than a restaurant; Al Saniour is a trendsetter, a special place that started the Arguileh trend around the Naccach strip of restaurants -at least in my opinion. I used to come here a long time ago after university for a tasty mankouche using Jordanian Zaatar or for their esmalliyeh chicken.
I doubt that there’s anyone out there who is not familiar with this place. Located in the heart of Antelias, at the start of the restaurants strip, is a tent called Khaymet Al Saniour. Al Saniour first started in Dhour el Chweir before moving to Antelias which fast became a big success.
A huge space surrounded by glass facades with a view on the street and the busy environment. Inside is an open kitchen protected with glass for a cleaner feel and a dove filled with dozens of rectangular tables surrounded by garden chairs. A real cafe style place where quality food is carefully mastered.
We came for breakfast: The first impressions:
- Waiters are not smiley, a bit rude and aggressive. I even asked for that "smile", which was not taken into consideration.
- The menu is a lunch menu where the word "breakfast" is not mentioned. You get lost in its many pages. Where should we start from, what should we order. I would suggest adding a breakfast part on the same menu where manakish, Labneh and eggs are more visible to see or maybe distribute table flyers that promote some breakfast items… it will surely add a plus.
Breakfast was served:
- Zaatar Ordoné: The Jordanian oregano mix is a unique specialty with an exceptional taste. Fluffy tender dough topped with light green Zaatar. Fresh dough that's not chewy using their famous zaatar, which makes all the difference. A non-acidic flavorful zaatar perfectly shredded to minuscule size, a bit of sesame, good quality oil, coloring the dough into this light green color and giving it a tasty finish.
- Cheese and ham is also good and recommended. The same tender dough topped with layers of ham and white melting cheese. Adequately salty, tender, lightly oily large sized cheese and ham pizza.
- And then the mezza arrived. labneh, grilled halloumi, eggs and a vegetable plate. Good quality labneh beautifully set in a round bowl, a super generous plate of thickly cut halloumi with thinly sliced tomatoes decorated with a lettuce to fill in the plate.
- The story is that I received Fatteh with garlic despite insisting on having one without and requested another from the waitress. Charbel the manager himself approached our table, insisted the plate is changed, apologized several times and asked politely for my name to contact me later on for a follow up. One bite of the one with garlic and I can tell you that the quantity is minimal adding an interesting flavor to the mix.
- Fatteh is different, stuffed with rolled toasted bread giving it a funky approach. Smooth Laban served warm, fried nuts and crunchy bread. It has a good and different taste differentiating it from the simple mix of Laban and chickpeas. Lightly sour; warm laban that is different from the cold ones we're used to, crunchy rolled bread... The final result is very good for a non-specialized restaurant.
- Back to the zaatar, my favorite zaatar which I ate this time with Labneh. Take a slice, spread some labneh and enjoy. This is surely one of my favorite manakish in Lebanon.
- Eggs were not as good as I expected them to be. Three eggs simply served in a white porcelain plate. No decoration, no salt and no pepper. No special cooking system is used to make them crunchy on the sides. They're not served in a clay or metallic pot. Vegetables come in another plate and not next to the eggs for a better look. I believe this order should be reconsidered.
I'd only change the eggs and the way they're presented.
For a calm breakfast in Antelias, Al Saniour is a place to consider. They have the flavors of local bakeries, the calmness of a restaurant, and good food and setup most village cafes offer; and of course if you would like some Shisha, then ask for one on the side.