This might be my fifth review about Tawlet, but I couldn’t resist sharing yet another great experience. At Tawlet, everything is just outstanding, starting with the place itself, its ambiance, its cosmopolitan clientele, the food and general relaxing spirit. I enjoy myself every time I go… When I am looking to have some authentically healthy Lebanese cuisine, Tawlet is my choice. This restaurant, located in Mar Mikaehl, has now become my weekly spot whenever possible and the best part is that with every time comes a new experience, new flavor, a new taste... a new journey into some of Lebanon's real tasty and cultural treasures.
Tawlet is a place literally known worldwide today. It’s a must stop for all tourists looking to learn and indulge in some of Lebanon's culinary wonders. The place is full of Lebanese treasures from wines, food, sweets, books, maps and other little trinkets.
Tawlet is the table; The table where all the food is served in a buffet style and where everyone digs in choosing the dishes they want to try, as many times as you want. There is a positive energy that irradiates from this place making you want to stay forever, get your computer and work there.
This time I landed here to discover a new look, a new feel, new staff members and a new approach towards food and drinks.
Tawlet has changed – I like the new details:
- Paintings on the walls are new
- The wine selection has been improved
- Choose between Almaza and 961 Beer
- More personnel is here to attend to everyone’s order
- The games and books shelves have a wider variety of items
- A new Souk el Tayeb corner sells organic goods from the villages of Lebanon
Before eating let me take you on a journey of what I saw and enjoyed that day. The interior of Tawlet is a simple yet very inviting space. The high ceiling, long table that seats 18 people which can be shared by several people even if they don’t know each other – I like the idea as it creates a new culture in our country… If sharing a table with a stranger is not your thing there are many smaller others around with simple water jugs decorating them. The chairs used around Tawlet are those simple ones that remind us of the old villages in Lebanon our grandparents tell us about. White tiles on the walls remind me of the Parisian metro, colored with amazing details like book shelves, a huge collection of local wine, a collection of Lebanese paintings, three blue dragonflies dangling from the ceiling… and so much more. I can’t express my joy while eating the delicious home made cooking. I miss it, crave it and learning more about how they do dishes in different parts of Lebanon is really amazing, as there’s always an element of surprise.
Working at Tawlet, Nada Rizk from Achrafieh takes care of the buffet and helps prepare the food on a daily basis. You know how Tawlet works: A woman from a different village in Lebanon comes and prepares a few dishes the way they do in her hometown. Everyday is different. Let's take the kebbe as an example. Kebbe prepared in Ehden is different than kebbe in Saida and surely different than the way Beiruties prepare it. I've heard people saying that they don't like the food at Tawlet, and to those I say, that they have to start by understanding the concept. One different woman every day producing food the way she sees it or has been educated to create in her village. You might not like one kind but surely can't condemn the place. Come again, I'm confident that you'll change your mind. Today I had the chance to meet Mrs. Fadia Shaptini from Tripoli. I was impressed! Mrs. Shaptini is an educated woman who has lived in Canada and speaks perfect English and French. Meeting Kamal Mouzawak, the owner by pure coincidence, he invited her to come cook at Tawlet. She puts all her know how and savoir faire in those superb plates. She loves cooking, and it shows. Today, I didn't eat simple food but bites of passion and love. Mrs. Shaptini comes here once every three weeks. Ask about her the next time you come by. I also met Tawlet's new Executive Chef, Elia Barghout who has worked all his life as an accountant in Dubai. He has now started a new career behind the furnaces of Tawlet. His heart led him to Tawlet where he met Kamal who hired him for his passion, authenticity and enthusiasm, and not his CV. Moving from working with numbers to ingredients, it seems that his hidden skills are emerging. Today's food was just perfect. If happiness has a scale from 0 to 10, 10 would be the number today.
On the menu today:
- Kebbeh bi Hamod (with Lemon)
- Berghol bi Banadoura (with Tomatoes)
- Cucumber and perslane salad
- Lettuce and radish salad
- Grilled Cauliflower
- Stuffed cabbage leaves
- Spinach and eggs
- Lahme bi Ajine
- Samke Harra (Spicy fish)
- Mtabbal Flayfle (Eggplant moutabbal with bell pepper)
- Chicken Fatteh
- The Purslane and cucumber salad with its simplicity and strong seasoning hides like a hundred stories of a land rich in offerings. Some real vegetables are used and they are great. Tasty crunchy fresh vegetables with a strong lemon taste will put a smile on your face. You might tell me: "It's a salad after all, why the fuss!". I will say, no it's not! These are bites of love. Even the vegetable platter is different than the one found in any Lebanese restaurant. An unmatched freshness.
- Tabbouleh: What can I say! Real fresh tabbouleh that's full of taste, flavors and aromas. An excellent equilibrium of everything that constitute it.
- Spinach with eggs and cheese: "Superfood"... 'A la Libanaise'. Excellent: Shredded fresh spinach mixed with fried eggs and potato cubes
- Eggplant with red pepper: Yumm! Awesome... Really impressive. Even though Lebanese and living in Lebanon, I never tried this plate creation before. The richness of baked eggplant and the subtle sweetness of red peppers combined makes this plate unique. Few mint leaves and voila!
- Lahme beajine fingers: This is more than just simple food: this is finesse redefined. Homemade puff pastry rolls that crumble under your teeth while the inner stuffing of meat, mixed with pomegranate molasses ignites all its flavors of aromas to activate all your taste buds. You can't but talk, say something and express happiness while devouring one after the other. Cholesterol or fat... I didn't care. I've had five of those and wished for more.
- Stuffed cabbage leaves served without meat: light and simple
- Fish Tajen: A new discovery for me where every bite has a hundred flavors combined. It put a smile on my face
- Fattet djej: A new way of doing fattet with rice, chickpeas, fried bread and some interesting crunchy fried almonds and pine nuts. Awesome!
- Berghol banadoura: As good as it should be
- Kebbe bi 7amod with meat: I'll surely come back when Mrs. Shaptini is cooking to have those again. Shaped like falafel, kebbe balls are bathing in a red sauce richly mixed with an equilibrated lemon flavor. Lemon is felt in every bite adding a plus, a new innovation to this renowned national dish. Superb!
To accompany lunch, we tried the Prestige Rouge red wine from Batroun Mountains 2009:
Batroun Mountains is a family owned boutique winery located in the mountainous region of Batroun District. Batroun district is a recognized appellation of origin. This is a wine brand with a promising future.
Desserts were just as good as the food. We enjoyed the renowned Kaak bi debs el Kharroub, Kaak choufan, Mhallabiya, Lawziye, Orange cake, Jam and Ward el Cham from Rachidi...
A unique lunch I'll repeat again and again...