February 02, 2015 Beirut Lebanon Middle East

Spanish Gusto Night at Eau de Vie... An Oriental Party

Phone Number: +961 1 357024

Address: Phoenicia Hotel, 11th Floor, Minet El Hosn, Beirut, Lebanon

Website: http://www.eaudevie-beirut.com/about.html

Price Range: 100-150 $

Eau De Vie Eau De Vie
2.3 out of 5 based on 1 professional review.

RATING:46/100

Welcoming: 4/5

Food Temperature: 6/10

Ambiance / Music: 0/10

Menu Choice: 1/5

Food Taste: 13/30

Architecture / Interior: 8/10

Food presentation: 4/10

Service: 7/10

Value for money: 3/10

This is maybe my fourth dinner at Eau de Vie, two of which were hosted by a Michelin starred chef. But sadly every time I go there, I leave unimpressed with the experience. I remember the bad entertainment that comes with the dinner program, which all resembled typical weddings around the country. It was never what I expected... especially at a place like Eau de Vie.

eau-vie-spanish-gusto-chef-fernando-canales-etxanobe32015-02-02-11-29-40 

But this didn’t stop me from coming here tonight. I felt that this time was going to be different. I truly felt it was going to be better, especially that I met the Michelin Star Chef Fernando Canales Etxanobe behind the event just a couple of days before the big night… I promised myself a nice evening where Spanish flavors was going to be enjoyed... 

As the elevator opened, we were professionally walked to our table. A lovely lady with a large smile on her face made sure we are appropriately seated. I felt I had the best table tonight. 

Our table was calmly tucked away in the corner away from the spotlight. I prefer it this way… I enjoyed the professionalism of our waiter, Elie, while taking photos in a perfectly lit space while calmly writing my review as events happen...

As we sat down, Elie approached us to help with the tablecloth. A set of cutlery, classy white placemat, a full-fledged armor with four forks and four knives alongside a violet glass of water along side "Stolzle" wine glasses… 

A great first impression... professional welcoming, tasty wine, a smiling waiter … but was that enough to make an experience memorable?

Below are the actual events.

Tonight's title and marketing campaign was about authentic flavors of Spain with Michelin starred chef Fernando Canales Etxanobe. I was dreaming of feeling the flavors of Spain... Spanish? Authentic? The dinner was a redefined international molecular cuisine. What's Spanish about it?

The bread:

  • Unevenly sliced bread, slightly toasted, chewy on the sides and a bit too fluffy on the inside. They lacked body and flavor. With my little know how, this is not the way bread should be served with starred chefs dinners. They don't look appetizing, they were torn apart and unequally cut.

Tonight's supposedly refined menu:

  • Lentil Cakes served with Couscous Red Peppers and Olive Oil: A slight change in the menu, the second plate was served first.  A rectangular plate with spread mousse which looks like "Batenjen bi Tehini" or "baba ghannouj" with a portion of a red mix exactly like itch, the Armenian tabbouleh. Honestly, it's not too appetizing but let's taste it. This plate is fine and might be something extraordinary for European people who will be eating exotic oriental food, but honestly for us, or me at least, it's something I eat on a weekly basis at home.  A purée of lentil with tahina and a mix of lentil with red bell pepper. Where's the cake part? It's a blend of oriental flavors bizarrely done in a European way.

eau-vie-spanish-gusto-chef-fernando-canales-etxanobe152015-02-02-11-30-26

  • Cream of Mushroom Soup with White Truffle Spheres: It was a very good creation. A full-bodied mushroom cream with slices of mushrooms where two balls of white truffles gelées bathe in style. Innovative, tasty and the truffle cream exceptionally explode from the balls. You have to be a truffle lover; it's intense. This is a starred chef quality creation.

eau-vie-spanish-gusto-chef-fernando-canales-etxanobe192015-02-02-11-30-28

  • Ragout of Scallops served with Spinach: Three scallops served on a round plate with a hint of spinach mousse, another of leak and a basil drop. With that is a brown teardrop that's not too appetizing to say the least and not tasty. As for the scallops, they're as good as they should be, well cooked, tender, and slightly oily with a grilling aftertaste. I didn't understand this plate.
  • Lamb Ribs with Anise and Mushrooms: On a large round plate, a beautifully designed portion of meat lays bathing in its juice. Very tender meat, flavorful sauce, with some quinoa in the middle. Tender meat yet loaded with fat. It’s a good dish but truly nothing extraordinary about it. Meat and sauce, yet I saw mustard visiting the other tables... Bizarre no?

eau-vie-spanish-gusto-chef-fernando-canales-etxanobe222015-02-02-11-30-33

  • Strawberry, Fennel and Tomato: A gelatin-like cream topped with pink meringue biscuit lying on a bed of biscuits and diced tomatoes. Interesting textures but a bit sweet for my taste. The dessert should have been colder to be better enjoyed.

eau-vie-spanish-gusto-chef-fernando-canales-etxanobe272015-02-02-11-30-52

The verdict: Not Impressed.

The minuses:

  • The candle cups were very dirty.
  • Was it a high-end dinner or what? The live band entertainment does not fit the whole program.
  • A Spanish chef means Spanish music not Arabic music if I may sugest. Felt like spending a night at a wedding in the village.
  • Spanish Gusto calls for Spanish taste and flavors. So what exactly was Spanish about the dinner?
  • The main plates were not hot enough and the dessert was not cold enough.

eau-vie-spanish-gusto-chef-fernando-canales-etxanobe242015-02-02-11-30-43

The music:

  • Come on! Base, loud oriental, squeaking sounds… It was pure noise and definitely not what you would expect to listen to when you’re in for a promised Michelin experience. A dinner like this one should have some classical music playing in the background and nothing else... and definitely not Arabic music.
  • People have paid money to come and savor authentic flavors of Spain with refreshing and delicious dishes prepared by Michelin Star Chef Fernando Canales Etxanobe, instead I think they paid for the live entertainment. Very deceiving!
  • Unacceptable! I felt like I was sitting in an Arguile cafe. We were literally shouting to hear each other talking. It was unbearable! We left running at 11pm.

My only question is: Was the chef aware of this entertaining masquerade before accepting to come to Lebanon?

I have been here before and each time it's the same disappointing experience. Something has to be done about it! This is not what a Michelin star experience should be all about and surely not what Eau de Vie is all about.

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