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Another explosion shakes Lebanon again creating an overall feeling of sadness and despair - especially that it's Christmas time and the New Year is just around the corner - a time where people are usually hopeful. The sadness is felt around and I am no exception. I understand and feel the agony, but I am big believer in hope and continuity. But what saddens me more is how my friends among others are reacting and spreading more negative vibes on social media and more so bashing Lebanon to the work. I understand and yes the situation is frustrating. Everyone wants to leave instead of staying. I for one am staying and I will stay positive. And this is why I got into the car to go and find something new and cheerful in our beloved country, knowing that the country is filled with strong and hardworking people who also believe in Lebanon today and tomorrow. One such believer and hard worker is Nicolas Vulgarides, the chef behind "Tabliers."
The Rabieh/Mtayleb/Mazraat Yachouh region has been booming in the past couple years with new restaurant franchises, banks, renowned shops as well as small eateries and others have opened. Although the traffic has increased and can be annoying, but I look at it in a positive way. Traffic means work, action, people moving around... it means life is going along smoothly as the area boosts. Our concern here is of course restaurants and there are quite a few places already opened, offering something new to the area. But what was lacking was a simple French bistro, which offers decent and tasty food. But thankfully, Tabliers, fills this gab, as it recently opened on the Naccach/Mtayleb highway. I was intrigued by the name and how the place is described as "Restaurant et Atelier de Cuisine". Accompanied by my friend, Anthony, we went there for lunch on this sad day hoping the chef can help pull our morale up as well as remind us that Lebanon is a great country with amazing people... and amazing talents.
To start with, what I love about this place - something I found out later - is the transformation the place makes between day and night. For lunch, the restaurant is a French bistro with a simple ambiance and placemats on the tables. At night, the place transforms into a more fine-dining facility with a full table setup including white tablecloths and table napkins.
- On the first floor of Centre (Photo Noubar) in Naccach, Tablier welcomes you for lunch and dinner
- A one door small place, cozy and calm can welcome up to forty guests
- The place includes seven tables that can host four to six persons
- White walls are decorated with some writings and few posters
- Dark wood parquet covers the floor
- A bar to the left with four metallic high stools is the signature look of all French Bistros
- Bottles decorate the bar wall
- At the end of the restaurant are two mirror windows hiding the kitchen behind
- On the right wall, four paintings remind you of Parisian streets and ambiance
- Burgundy placemats decorate all the tables (during the day)
- Pour se réchauffer
- Côté verdure
- Pour les gourmands
- Côté chaleur
- Duo D'asparages, Duxelles de Champignons de Paris et Cepes 23,000L.L: To start, this plate smells fresh followed by a nice and rich presentation, ending with a superb taste. Three of your senses activated all at once over this dish. A round plate, two green and two white asparagus covered with diced mushrooms on top, served with a cocktail of green lettuce. The sea salt used adds the needed flavor and richness, while ground pepper from the mill leaves an aftertaste you'll enjoy. The dressing, taste and textures of this salad are just great
- Sucrine et Espadon Fume, Guile D'olive Citron 25,000L.L: Simple yet innovative, this salad's beautiful colors is inviting. Next to some Sucrine cut in quarters, thin slices of smoked swordfish take over the middle part of the plate while frizzy lettuce decorate the other side. It's a really simple and healthy plate but I think it needs a bit more flavoring in my opinion. The oil and lemon disappear at the bottom leaving all the greenery with a dry feel. If the same sauce of the Asparagus salad is used, this plate would have become majestic
- Risotto Forestier 34,000L.L: WOW! This is a creation of a grand chef. A fine dining plate in a small town bistro truly deserves a round of applause. I've been dreaming about tasting some good risotto in town for so long. Imagine the real Arborio rice, cooked aldente, and mixed with truffle oil with a subtle smooth flavor while the mushrooms take over to fulfill your appetite. I loved the adequate use of salt and pepper in all Nicola's preparations. Look at the foamy milk on the sides down below in the picture and understand what I'm talking about. The chef, who studied at Paul Bocuse in Lyon, is making sure he's using his know how wisely
- Pepperoni Pizza 18,000L.L: OK! At first you'll say a Pizzeria wannabe. What is a pizza doing in a French bistro? But you're wrong! This is an awesome pizza revisited the French way with dough like no other. Ingredients include rich cheese you have never tasted before and tomato sauce only a few know how to master in our country. Lightly crunchy on the sides with a generous thick layer of cheese in the middle all covered with pepperoni with subtle spiciness ... This Pizza is a must try
- Pain Perdu 12,000L.L: Yum! A simple, not too sweet and rich Pain Perdu.... and inexpensive and the best part it's close to home. Thank you
- Macaron Caramel Beurre Sale 11,000L.L: This is the least favorite of what I had. It is super hard from the outside and extremely chewy from the inside. This macaron is filled with a heavy cream filling. The taste is there but the textures need some fine tuning, which I am certain they will do sooner than we think
- Tarte au Chocolat Coulant 12,000L.L: Can I leave the surprise effect here... and let you try it for yourself. Let me know when you do... just enjoy the photo in the meantime
- The food is great. Bravo
- The details are up to fine-dining standards
I would change to improve:
- Fix the spelling mistakes on the menu: Crème brûlé(e), Livre(s) Libanaise(s) and remove the (s) from macaron since the plate offers only one single piece
- Do something about the sounds and echoes in the place
Honestly, today I was surprised. The saying goes, "knise il aribe ma teshfe" and we often believe that we have to do a long distance to enjoy some good food. I am happy to say that I had really good food in a place right next to my house. The food was great on all fronts. The risotto was awesome; the salad was exquisite and the pizza totally superb. As for the desserts, all I can say is that each is simple greatness served on a plate. A French casual bistro with fine dining offerings that's close to home is a dream come true.