Down in the old souks of Batroun, I met a man, a special man, a man obsessed with cleanliness, a cook, a king of his own castle, a castle where fish is given a whole new meaning, a castle where sandwiches ooze love and passion with every bite rich with flavorful ingredients.
Known as Abou Sselo, Salim Elias is not your average restaurant owner, but a person that knows what food is all about.
In his long white socks like a football player, a white apron, a head cover, two earrings… Salim Elias, welcomes you for lunch and dinner in his kingdom: A clean and neat place, shiny grills and clean utensils while he moves around preparing a sandwich after the other or carefully frying his fish. La Marée is the heaven of fish sandwiches, where the fish is carefully fried in a special fryer so it doesn't absorb oil, where the bread is fresh, produced the same morning, and cleanliness is not like anywhere you've ever visited before.
Whenever you go, a ritual has to be followed. You will be offered a selection of pickled vegetables, homemade by the fishermen - ask for a tasting, it's worth it. After that, arak will start flowing while the sandwiches are being prepared.
Fish, seafood and sandwiches are Salim’s world.
People come here for the sandwiches or for an in-house dining experience. The place is a small shop, a snack-like set up, with an open kitchen and a counter. You'll find a white, extremely clean space where three people work; one in the washing area, another continuously cleans the floor and a third handles the cash machine and orders while Salim handles the kitchen. Food safety is mastered to perfection.
While music played in the background, arak started flowing, fresh aromas took over the shop in preparation for tasting. I loved the pickles so much that I almost felt full before even trying the sandwiches.
Everything is cooked a la minute in casseroles, the sandwiches are prepared, then grilled to a crunch. As special guests, we were offered a plate of tomatoes flambé in arak. Simply add arak to the cut tomatoes and let them cook.
Now for the food, the sandwiches were exquisite. Squid in their ink, calamari or shrimps, each has a special flavor, a special touch of innovation and surely freshness. Ask for the mixed seafood sandwich, a must try. Tender bread, toasted on the outside and filled with juicy seafood marinated in their flavorful sauce.
Since I visited La Marée, I couldn't stop thinking about the experience, which I'll be repeating soon. Many of my friends went there after I told them about this clean place and were all impressed. It's your turn now.