Saifi Village in Beirut always has a special vibe to it… It was a sunny day and I headed over there with some friends to try its new eatery, Meat the Fish. When you reach, you will see a few crates used as chairs on the sidewalk… An original space to say the least with a market ambiance to it… I felt like I was at the Oxford Circus market… Nice…
Through a large glass facade, you'll see a fish display, wooden crate boxes filled with ice where salmon and fresh products are on display and sold. Fresh meat, oysters, mussels and fish face a long counter where sandwiches are made.
It's an original kind of eatery hosting a big rectangular table… you walk in and have a quick bite so others can have their turn…You'll have to do it all by yourself, the ordering and paying and even grabbing the drinks you want..
The menu is changed on a daily basis. A single paper is printed and hung on the wall along with a report of day's weather. The menu suggests what’s from the kitchen, from the crates, sides, drinks, sweets and today's specials.
- A cash machine welcomes you as you walk in
- Blue and white tiles cover the floor
- Light colored wood decorate the place
- Walls are all painted in white giving a brighter and cleaner feel
- An open kitchen prepares sandwiches in front of your eyes
- A large rectangular table welcomes the hungry clientele
- A lovely street style ambiance missing in our country
Mess, that's the first impression. Everyone's busy; the staff is overwhelmed, and no welcoming whatsoever or even an introduction to the concept. So prepare to stand, wait and listen to people's comments for directions of which many are super disappointed.
I waited a long while to be seated, so was so ready to pick up some items and go eat them in the car. But just as I was giving up… after waiting and waiting more, we finally found a table! Finally. I really wanted to experience the place and it’s food alongside a 961 beer.
- Tuna Sandwich LBP25,000: Ortiz Yellowfin tuna in olive oil and herbs, black olive tapenade, organic boiled eggs. Very generously filled pain de campagne with tuna, a lemony freshness, a crunchy lettuce, a juicy boiled egg all together to create a piece of heaven.
- Wild Rice Salad LBP30,000: Kale, Granny Smith apples, grapes, cranberries, maple mustard vinaigrette. A fully loaded eye candy bowl of fresh greens and fruits mixed together with wild rice. Very innovative to say the least. The colors, the blend, the sweetness provided by the apples and pomegranate, the pecan nuts. Bravo! I fell in love with it considering I'm a wild rice freak.
- The Roast LBP24,000: Seared Australian grass-fed beef fillet, medium rare, salsa verde, horseradish cream, aragula, pain de campagne. Inside a toasted pain de campagne, layers of meat lie majestically in it with a rich sauce adding the flavoring and acidic touch. This is a good one, satisfying, generous and flavorful.
- Smoked salmon bagel LBP18,000: open faced Scottish smoked salmon cream cheese, lemon, black pepper, plain bagel. They call those bagels but in fact they're French baguette with a hole in the middle. So this salmon sandwich is very tasty. Loved the cream cheese, the flavoring and the premium salmon quality. If only the bagel was tender and fluffy like it should be.
- Gravlax Avocado on Toast LBP16,000: Scottish gravlax, avocado, chili flakes, chia seeds, pain de campagne. On a fresh toasted pain de campagne is spread an avocado mousse topped with one of the country's best salmon and seasoned with chia seeds and flakes. A very intensely flavorful sandwich. Add some lemon and enjoy.
- Lobster Roll LBP26,000: Lobster tails, lemon chile mayo, soft roll. A deception! Lobster it is but filled in chewy bread, no butter, no toasting, no mayonnaise, no flavoring, no chives. That's a lobster sandwich and surely not a lobster roll. Two minuscule bites sold for LBP26,000. Prune's and Brgr.Co's are way more generous, identical to the ones in London and for the same price.
- Sashimi LBP18,000: Very good quality indeed but the plate is not too appetizing; the tuna pieces are a bit small and seem to be torn apart, served without soy sauce... We went on a hunt to find a bottle on another table. One bottle for the whole restaurant?
Now for the conclusion:
- Yes we did have good food but all the rest is bad and not worth the hassle. I didn't understand anything, the staff was not welcoming, everyone was busy and in a hurry, it's a little tiny shop where moving around can be impossible. COuldn't enjoy my food the way I want it.
- Honestly, the prices are pushed to the extreme. We were three and our bill added up to $135. It's expensive for a market-like experience.
- The cashier answers the phone, takes the orders, shouts for the prices, makes you wait while trying to understand how to work the credit card machine... An understaffed place.
Now for the best part. Since I had to go pick up the beer bottles myself from the a low one meter fridge placed on the counter at the entrance… the bottle fell off by mistake while depositing it on the counter, next to cashier. Is it my mistake or hers? Of course I was going to pay for it and I would not have accepted otherwise… but what bothered me was the fact that I was asked to pay for it. Yes, they made me pay for the broken bottle: Seriously?
Ok, the food was very good food... But again its not enough... I’m not sure I'll be coming back…