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Em Sherif's Chaotic Cafe: Come for Breakfast, Avoid Dinner
Be enchanted by a new kind of cafe. Located in the heart of Beirut's golden circle is an upscale eatery taking the Lebanese coffee shop experience to another level. It's a blend between a Lebanese cafe and an upscale Lebanese restaurant inspired by the famous Em Sherif, the first restaurant to put Lebanese food on the international map of fine dining. Part of the Diner's Club world top 50 restaurants, the cafe is a lighter way for you to enjoy the Em Sherif experience.
Next to Metropole in the heart of Beirut you can experience a unique restaurant. It's where Arabic music plays in the background, where cutlery is finely set in a luxurious way, where gold adds a touch of finesse and arabesque designs take you on a trip to Baghdad and back... it's a 1001 night journey into the history of oriental food perfection.
Seated on the sidewalk and enjoying Beirut's beautiful morning breeze, I was welcomed by the enchanting aromas of Arabic scents and the smiles of waiters excited to start their day. Every single detail counts and this is exactly what I love about Em Sherif... the cutlery, unique of its kind, the plates up to the standard of a Michelin starred restaurant and especially made for Em Sherif by Nada Salameh, coffee served in a colorful cup covered with a metal crown and decoration on every single plate.
Grab a newspaper and enjoy the moment.
Em Sherif has two menus. Breakfast and all day dining.
- Breakfast (from the oven, eggs, starters, fatteh, raw meat)
- All day dining (salads and starters, cold Mezze, Fatteh, raw meat, from the oven, eggs, hot Mezze, special sandwiches, grills).
Let's taste and try Em Sherif's Morning offerings:
- Labneh platter, Zaatar manousheh, cheese manousheh, halloum and watermelon, eggs with kawarma, jam and butter, labneh with vegetables.
Breakfast is served:
- A plate of Labneh decorated with black olives and mint leaves is served with a bowl of vegetables and toasted bread on the side. Freshly baked Lebanese bread as well as our local flatbread made it to the table as well. A tasty labneh with an interesting acidity without any sweetness.
- Loved the bread quality which is soft, not chewy but light and airy. The toasted bread is also different, thin and very crunchy.
- Watermelon cubes, rolled and sliced raw halloumi cheese and a sprinkle of nigella sativa which turns a normal combination into a flavorful mix. A fresh, light and soft halloumi with a rich, sweet watermelon, a smoothness and a crunch combined before the "7abbet el Barakeh" take over.
- The vegetable platter is composed of tomatoes, radishes, green onions, mint leaves, cucumbers and green pepper.
- The fatteh is outstanding! Beautifully cooked chickpeas, slightly al dente, not overcooked and not too hard mixed with fresh Laban and crunchy mini chunks of bread fried to perfection. Pine nuts add style to the plate.
- The cheese manousheh is awesome! OMG it's the best cheese flatbread manousheh I've ever had in my life. The softness of the bread, the quality of cheese, the balanced taste and lack of oiliness. Waw! I'm impressed.
- Acidic string zaatar manousheh with a load of sesame, a thin dough and a very special taste.
Now comes dessert...
- The country's most expensive knefeh comes at a price. For LBP22,000 get a uniquely mouthwatering morsel loaded with love, exploding with passion and boosted with gourmet flavors. Even though the price is not justified, the knefeh is outstanding! Molten cheese as good as a raclette topped with a thin layer of crunchy crumbs and served with soft sesame kaaka. With it comes a lightly sweet sugar syrup. It's awesome! Bravo!
- The best of the best is the merry cream. Intensely dark chocolate merry cream like no other. With no close competition, this merry cream is to die for! A chocolate flavor that stays in the mouth for a long time, a smooth creaminess, a soft silky finish... it's pure pleasure!
I loved it all!
- Plating and the plates' decoration
- Attention to detail
- Water glass bottles
- The blend between east and west
- The food and flavor
Three things I'd improve:
- The tables look dull without a cover. A white stripe (runner) - colored with flower designs or arabesque - passing from one side to the other would add finesse and style while making the place feel decorated. The row of empty tables looks bizarre and the plates on a wooden table lose their importance somehow. The cutlery touches the tables when they should be on a placemat; it's cleaner!
- With all the details thought of, white napkins in a transparent plastic container killed my appetite. I would have imagined the stand to be made from wood or metal using better quality napkins with the restaurant logo or design in them. (Like the Sushi Bar napkins)
- Please for the love of God stop putting spoons in all the plates. A spoon on the mankouche? Or a huge spoon in the labneh platter when the chef has taken his time to decorate it! In the era of social media and Instagram photos spoons in plates are just not acceptable! Please reconsider bringing spoons on the side instead.
Probably one of the country's best breakfasts. Bravo for making Lebanese cuisine sexy and upscale. Enjoyed my morning so much that I'll recommend it to all my friends.