CHECK OTHER REVIEWS FOR THIS PLACE:
A Majestic Breakfast at Hotel Le Vendome Beirut
Claude Lauxerrois' Cheese Selection: Discover France on a Table
Sydney's: The Come Back... A Simple Yet Refined Culinary Experience
Breakfast with a View at Hotel Le Vendôme Beirut
Breakfast at Sydney's: Service and Food Used to Be Better...
Sydney's is Back: Meeting Chef Rabih Fouany and the Team
Sydney's Beirut Launches Its New Menu: In The Kitchen With the Chefs
Sydney's, located on the last floor of Vendome Hotel on Ain Mreiseh is a place almost everyone knows and have built some fond memories over the years... Haven't you at least once come for a cigar back when smoking was allowed, or enjoyed their fine fancy breakfast served, or even come after a long night out to chill on the sofas with friends?
Sydney's has been renovated a while ago. With the new decor comes a new chef who has revisited the menu to suit the younger clientele.
Welcome to Sydney's, the classy hotel bar down in Beirut. I walked in with a big smile on my face. I was sure that I would not get disappointed at Sydney's. I have always enjoyed the food and always appreciated the professional service that starts with a warm welcoming and a guaranteed culinary experience.
But something was off that day. Today's experience was not as good as it should have been. Sydney's was not at its best. To start with, the whole review could revolve around one person, the waiter.
The waiter attending to our table was all over the place – in manner and attitude. He lacked some finesse and professionalism. As soon as we arrived, the same waiter stood next to us waiting while we chose our wine. He didn't give us a minute to even read the menu. Why the pressure to order? The waiter, through respect and professionalism, should call the headwaiter by his title. Toni is not Toni, but Maitre Toni. The same waiter barged into conversations; interfered when he was not talked to, selling items on the menu that we were not even close to ordering… he wasn't suggesting, he was imposing… To top that he was super pushy… asking every second… "Did you choose yet? Do you want to order? Should I take the order?" To top that all… while serving at the table, he didn't start with the women.
We ordered Cloud 9, the famous white wine from Chateau Karam. Two glasses were served without us seeing the bottle. In a place like this, the wine bottle should arrive at the table; the glasses should be served in front of the customers then placed next to the table in case we ask for more…
Dinner started with a selection of appetizers of metallic forks supporting green olives stuffed with almonds topped and cherry tomatoes, all marinated in lemon and olive oil. On another plate came carrots, cucumbers, cocktail sauce, olive tapenade and edamame. Bread followed, tasty fresh bread which I think is from Eric Kayser.
Food was served:
- King Crab: A bed of tender and moist crab with a lemony feel and a spicy touch, topped with a mountain of fresh greens. The plate was as it should be. The crab was of a good quality, but the plate lacked a touch of perfection.
- Frikeh salad: A mix of green beans with tiny little mushrooms and greenery. All the contents mixed with olive oil and lemon juice. Fresh and good.
- Calamari: This was the best preparation I had that night. Baby calamari served as is, stuffed with cubes of pork and crunchy walnuts mixed together like a mouhammara. The calamari felt light with an enjoyable subtle chewiness and an inner crunch that adds texture to the mix. Even though the pork is not felt at all but only read on the menu, I liked the after note it leaves in the mouth.
- Taco: Pure deception. I ordered the tuna tacos, as I remembered having something exceptional the last time. Cubes of fresh tuna felt in every bite, which you can still see, in the previous review. Today's preparation has changed completely with crunchy puff pastry filled with a strong dose of mayonnaise covering the tuna taste. Jalapeños add an interesting spicy note.
- Artichoke: This salad is fresh with enjoyable crunchy notes, a salad that's a bit oily, but good.
- Beetroot risotto: A beautiful plate in colors - violet color, rice cooked al dente, creamy sauce, balsamic vinegar but nothing to do with beetroot whatsoever. Great colors, but no taste.
- Pasta: The pasta was fine, but a bit cold because all the plates are offered cold. Warm food on cold porcelain is not a bright idea. I honestly was expecting better. The food was good but not exceptional to the extent that I might want to come back again or leave amazed.
- I loved the ambiance.
- I’m a fan of Sydney’s new décor.
- I really enjoyed the music.
- The plates are cold, they should be heated like they do in all good restaurants.
- The preparations lack a hint of something, a power, anything to remember them by and make you want to come back.
- Waiters surely need basic training.
- I remember eating better food.
After that we had the chocolate Mi-Cuit, which I enjoyed. I loved the quality of the chocolate, the adequate sweetness and the quality of the cake. I’m a fan of Chef Pierre’s work.
Dinner ended with a biscuit and Mignardise tower, a tower that looks like Burj el Arab with a selection of bites, which in my opinion, are better served with coffee and not after dinner.
Sydney's should be better, this is why it made it to my 2014’s coup de Coeur list. Some attention is required here; This restaurant surely has something exceptional to offer but the little details that make the difference should be addressed.