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Kahwet Leila: I Was Expecting Better...
I have a new favourite spot in town, and that’s Kahwet Leila. From the same people that brought us Leila, the chain of restaurants that we’ve all loved so much over the past few years, this latest addition recently opened on the Gemmayze main strip. It has a unique and very creative identity, taking you back in time to a Beirut that we only read about in books or heard about from our parents and grandparents.
The venue is surrounded by glass walls, allowing you to enjoy both the café and the bustle out on the street. Its high ceiling and detailed tiles are reminiscent of older times when people used to go to a “Kahwé”. It doesn’t stop here. The spacious venue boasts several stations, or as they call them “dkékeen”, to provide the ambiance of Lebanese markets back in the day. The “dkékeen” are divided as follows: the salad station, the cocktails, fruits and desserts stations, the coffee station and the DJ station (or booth). Each stop has a unique feel to it and provides an essential element to both the décor and the customer. Unlike old cafés though, Kahwet Leila provides very comfortable and cushioned seating.
The tables and chairs are spacious and allow room for walking around and enough space for all the mezzé. Walls are adorned with vintage photos and paintings that are either modern with a classic feel or actually brought back in time from decades past. Whether it’s the old records, Ghandour biscuits or old Pepsi bottles, something or everything about this place will give you a warm feeling inside that will keep you coming back. My personal favorite element was a very old Pepsi advertisement hung on the wall on the way to the WC.
The food is just as good as the décor. If you like Leila, you will love Kahwet Leila, serving mouthwatering Lebanese food and mezzé with special twists here and there. Even if you’re just going for a hookah or coffee you simply shouldn’t miss out on their unique platters or scrumptious desserts. Even their most creative dishes are kept simple with an emphasis on the rich taste. The staff is impeccably friendly and helpful and the service is timely as well.
This venue is very casual and comfortable; ideal for families, groups of friends, or a quick afternoon lunch break any day of the week. I know I’ll definitely be returning soon.