When you decide to have lunch at one of Beirut's renowned restaurants, you would expect everything to be just perfect. Leila, in the past few years, has become one of the popular places in Lebanon where many go for the an enjoyable food experience - the Lebanese food with a twist experience. I, for one, am a big fan. But the service today, was a whole chaotic hurricane experience...I mean how bad can a restaurant's service experience get?
is a reference spot. A place that is always fully booked, packed all week long for lunch and dinner. Leila, the creator of the "Lebanese with a twist" cuisine has charmed us with one of kind creations that are worth having every time. I've been to Leila Verdun
, to Kahwet Leila
, to ABC Dbayeh
and several times to ABC Achrafieh and have tried all the tasty items on their rich menu.
At Verdun I started my article with:
It all starts the minute you step foot at their doorsteps… An experience that will cheer you up. Leila is an enjoyable Lebanese restaurant set in a professional ambiance.
Unfortunately, I cannot say the same about today's experience...
My friend and I decided to meet up for lunch today at Leila, located at the inner court of ABC Achrafieh. On this sunny warm day, we sat under the umbrellas outdoors to puff on some cigars.
12:40pm, I reached Leila to see a girl standing in the middle of the restaurant. She didn't welcome me but instead I walked towards her. "Euh! Can I have a table please?" She walked, I followed her and she nonchalantly pointed at a couple of tables. "Sit here, or there". It seems someone doesn't feel like working today.
12:41pm, I sat down on a dirty table covered with white dust. Look at the iPad (image) after just placing it on the table.
12:42pm, I ordered a Diet coke. Of course I received a Diet Pepsi. The same can and cup were never removed from the table or refilled. We left at 3pm and the same empty cup and can were still here.
12:50pm, Mohammad took the order. He doesn't look well, he doesn't feel like working and he was whispering the whole time instead of talking clearly. He never looked at me once and just nodded his head every time I said something, as if he was talking to his mother.
01:00pm, We were served. An enjoyable food indeed.
01:22pm, We received the meat platter. A platter that looks half empty, unappetizing and what I discovered later is that it costs 55,000L.L. How about you fill the empty spaces with some fries!
01:35pm, We finished lunch
02:41pm, We asked the manager to come remove the plates and clean the tables. Otherwise they would have stayed until we take them to the kitchen ourselves. The table was not cleared out and we waited a good one hour and 10 minutes, smoking our cigars with a table filled with empty plates, empty cups and opened soft drink cans.
02:41pm, We ordered tea and a Perrier.
03:00pm, Our water cups were never refilled with water. A water bottle we paid 4,500L.L for nothing.
03:04pm, We ordered the bill.
03:04pm, We received the bill! Impressive, that's the quickest we asked for and received.
PS: Exact timings as recorded on the exit file of my pictures
The ABC Achrafieh famous location:
- An inner space divided into two different sections, one being more elevated than the other
- A long bar welcomes the guests
- Wooden tables, surrounded by leather chairs in two different colors: Purple and red
- Outdoor garden chairs with their cushions
- The Leila logo I really like, over the wooden doors
- The signature wallpaper covers almost all walls
- Tables set in the corridor facing the restaurant
- A mix of many premium materials make this place an architectural heaven
Let's eat... The menu starts with a letter from a mother to her daughter, in Arabic where she reminds her of the village where she was brought up and the wonders of the Lebanese cuisine. I like that.
A thick carton menu full of colors and wonders, pleasant to browse through, where red, pink and green are mainly used. It has a vintage feel to it. Everything is written in Arabic and English to satisfy all customers.
The menu sections:
- Cold mezze
- Hot mezze
- From the oven
- Grills and platters
- Kids meals
- Light dishes
- New at Leila (A green square in every section)
The culinary experience that started off on the wrong foot:
My friend asked for fresh juice. The waiter asked him if he would like to have ice with his drink. Ice with fresh juice? Jean replied:"Of course not, it should be fresh and cold." The waiter, smiling, replied: "You know, we squeeze them now, so they are HOT". Jean replied:"How about I have something else?" He ended up having a cold minted lemonade, without the mint.
Plus they didn't have the small meat called Ras Asfour, so we had to forget about the dishes that contain this item.
We enjoyed the food:
- Hummus: Mashed chickpeas with oil, Leila style
- Labneh Mtabbaleh: Labneh with diced vegetables, Leila style
- Warak Enab: Vine leaves stuffed with rice, Leila style
- Fattoush: The traditional famous Lebanese green salad with toasty bread, Leila style
- Grilled Halloumi cheese
Hummus is simple and tasty, the Fattouch is very well seasoned, The Halloumi grills are thin, very well presented and tasty, the meat is soft and tender, the kafta is light and perfectly prepared and my favorite today is the Labneh with small diced vegetables. I simply loved it.
Lemon, nothing to put them in. The cup never came.
The needed changes:
- The staff requires intensive training. They know nothing about good service. I am sorry to say it so bluntly but the waiters are less than tray drivers.
- The host is not even welcoming. Isn't her job's description:"The Welcoming Hostess?"
- Please, dear managers, smile more. Or to say it adequately: Just smile!
- Staff is not organized and not synchronized.
- The place is dirty, trays are thrown on some chairs on the restaurant borders, and the tables outside are not cleaned
- Every time we wanted to order something it had to be a guessing game. Finding a waiter in front of us and asking him for something, he would answer: "I'll call your waiter." Who is our waiter? One took the order, one served us, one got the drinks, another removed the plates...
- We ordered four meat skewers and two kafta. That's six BBQ fingers. Only six skewers for 55,000L.L! That's 9,500L.L each with a hint of french fries. Is this normal and fair? I would order eight grilled meat sandwiches with this amount.
- When you ask for a Perrier, it comes with lemon. When you ask for a soft drink, it comes with ice. When you ask for a mint lemonade, it is supposed to come with some mint leafs! Right? Consider these points the next time.
- Get your staff some decent training.
- Clean the tables before the restaurant opens, during lunch time and in between.
- Perrier gets served with a cup on the side. Don't you agree?
- Be more attentive to details. Where would you suggest I put the lemon slices? Yes, in my cup, if I had one.
A total disappointment I didn't want to experience especially at my favorite Lebanese diner. Becoming famous and known may be hard. But staying on top is where the hard work and challenge begins.
- The food is just perfect. Many have been blabbering Leila's bad service lately but you can say nothing about the food. It's as good as we all expect it to be.
- I love the concept, the decoration and menu choices
- As promised after the last incident at ABC Dbayeh, I was allowed to take as many pictures as I wanted.