In Rayak, Baalbeck, right next to the Air Force base, you'll find Raymond, a restaurant that has been open for sixty years now. People come from all over the country to experience Raymond's cuisine, which includes Lebanese Mezze as well as their famous chicken... and of course the nice soothing breeze that comes from all sides.
Arrive at Rayak's Air base and you'll find Raymond to the left. The place is not fancy at all. An old structure which seems like it's still under construction. A metal pergola on the terrace, rectangular tables under a ceiling of torn fabric as well as another indoor seating area decorated with photos of old Lebanon.
Entertained by oriental tunes from the seventies, we ordered Raymond's chicken and some other Lebanese appetizers. Order the homemade arak to enjoy a traditional lunch.
Lunch started with fresh almonds.
The plates were generously filled and beautifully presented. Service was quick and the staff welcoming. Food was simple, traditional and fresh: a tasty salad; crunchy homemade French fries; crispy cheese rolls and tender Kebbeh. The hummus was the only disappointing thing in my opinion; it contained too much garlic which spoiled the proper flavor.
I couldn't eat the signature chicken cooked and marinated in garlic, but I appreciated the Kafta quality a lot as well as the very tender meat.
I loved the food! I enjoyed the fries so much, their warm soft hearts and crispy outsides, the light yet lemony grapevine leaves. The Katra is really outstanding, full bodied, well textured, firm and juicy. The meat is so tender, it melts on the tongue like butter. I had an entire plate of fried wings without sauce, since I can't eat garlic, and I enjoyed it.
Oh my God! The birds are awesome! Exceptional birds, small and fatty, intensely flavorful with an enjoyable crunch. Some of the best birds I've ever had.
Lunch ended with fruits and vegetables as well as a plate of Halawa. Fresh fruits which include watermelon, pineapple, kiwi, cherry, medlar and yellow melon. I tried the Halawa as is... bread is not served with it. I enjoyed it.
But I would suggest that Raymond focus more on the dessert part of the experience. The impression left with the last course should be stronger.
I recommend this place. The staff are genuinely welcoming and the food is really good. My experience at Raymond was a pleasant one which I will be repeating soon.