After visiting Zaatar W Zeit Zalka with my family last week, I decided to give this place another try before drawing any conclusions. As a small recap, my last experience was unacceptable. I headed down to another branch just to see how the experience will turn out; I loved it. ZWZ is not a bakery anymore but a revisited diner - a full-fledged restaurant with new expectations. This only means that the actual problem is having an inconsistency in service and attitude between branches... Pay attention guys... don't let such things affect the reasons why people come to you... The last time, I decided not to give it a full review and wrote:
So, our day started at Zaatar W Zeit Zalka. I thought, well this could be a cool place to take my daughter. A place where a variety of foods that children enjoy are served. I discovered for the first time the new wide menu while dining in-house, which I enjoyed. The menu, the variety, the images on the menu, this place has become more restaurant than just a mankoushe spot. Sadly the place was not a cheerful one. It was like Christmas Scrooge passed by here recently; No music, the staff were grim and down, unwelcoming – not a smile was seen. They saw that a kid was with us, but no reaction. No one even gave her some coloring pencils until I asked for some and ended up with one that included used pencils.Afterwards was ordering time. A kid, sorry but she doesn’t even deserve the title of waitress, approached us for the order. So unpleasant and so unprofessional she was moving her head and mimicking the way spoiled kids talk with their parents. Minutes later, we received the food. I liked and enjoyed the Zaatar light with no oil as well as the turkey and cheese sandwich. On another hand the Lahme Beajine and the cheese and ham were tasteless. It’s unacceptable to serve food on chipped plates. The labneh plate is chipped from all sides like in old Lebanese restaurants.Anyway the food was not the main issue today but the bad service and unwelcoming ambiance and attitude towards kids. More so, the place was dirty. The floor is covered with breadcrumbs, hair all over the floor and dirt stuffed in the corners, then left searching for something else that will make Enya smile and maybe a coffee for us since we still didn’t have anything to drink.
I went down to their Byblos branch where I enjoyed a nice breakfast with my friend Zeina. I ordered a lot, so just imagine I was there with a bunch of friends. Breakfast on the last day of the year was nice in this stand-alone location where positive vibes seem to naturally flow in the air. The place is superb:
- A stand alone building on the Byblos-Tripoli highway
- The floor leading to the restaurant is covered with old Lebanese tiles. A great impression
- Expect to be amazed as you walk inside. A large square space with high ceiling. The use of wood, metal, fabrics, leather, and stainless are here and there to decorate the place. All blend in together beautifully
- The floor is covered with grey vinyl on one side and wood parquet on the other
- The walls are all painted in grey
- White and black lights pending from the ceiling add a touch of style
- The place is decorated with three pictures covering a large portion of the wall
- Facing the dining area, a rectangular wall displays food related messages with an interesting typography
- Facing the entrance you will find a long bar with quick ready made sandwiches to go - "Pret a Manger" style
- Filling the space are dozens of light wood tables surrounded with wood and white-metallic chairs
- Two, nicely designed silver chairs add a difference to the mix
- Facing the highway, a Starbucks style area welcomes you to relax on a few couches
- The best part are the high glass facades that allows the needed amount of natural light into the place
- Stainless ducts add an industrial touch
- Breakfast (TO share, Manakeesh)
- Specialty wraps
- Redefining light
We tried today:
- Halloum w Bacon: (Halloumi cheese and bacon topped with tomatoes and mayo served on sun-dried tomato dough) the one and only sun-dried tomato filled with grilled halloumi cheese. The halloum's crunchiness and the richness followed by the juiciness of the sauce and freshness of tomatoes is simply superb. My favorite sandwich is now for 11,000L.L
- Traditional Pizza: (Tomato sauce with mozzarella cheese, ham and fresh mushrooms) Lebanese style spread of spongy dough with basic pizza ingredients, like most local bakeries. Good for what it is
- Labneh Aarouss: (Traditional cream cheese spread on sun-dried tomato dough. Served with tapenade, tomatoes, cucumbers and fresh mint leaves) WOW! A labneh sandwich like no other. As you crunch into the sandwich all the freshness burst into your mouth makes you smile. Smooth labneh, thin sliced cucumbers, mint and olive tapenade with olive oil. Really amazing for a simple labneh sandwich. A hint of sweetness is enjoyed with a mix of ingredients spread on my favorite sun dried tomato mix dough
- Oil Free Zaatar: (The same great taste without the guilt. Delicious dried thyme mixed with water and a bit of sesame topped with cucumbers, tomatoes, mint, purslane and rocca) I ordered it again and will do so again and again. Even though without oil and baked on brown dough, this sandwich is juicy and the Zaatar does not give any heartburn. I loved it: healthy and light
- Low Cal Turkey and Cheese: (A classic combination of melted cheese topped with slices of turkey, pickles, lettuce and tomatoes seasoned with our light mustard sauce) A subtle taste of cheese and turkey, delicious sauce and fresh and crunchy vegetables, this meal is great for those looking to enjoy a tasty yet light meal.
- Chocolate and Banana Wrap: (Melted hazelnut milk chocolate spread, topped with slices of banana) Nice overall taste but the dough is too chewy and the sandwich doesn't look like the picture. I enjoyed the generosity and size of the nuts, the softness of the banana and use of Nutella but in order for this wrap to be perfect, a thinner layer of dough should be used and definitely serve it like the picture without cutting it in six pieces.
PS: Why are the prices going up so fast that high? The halloum and bacon, for example, was for 9,000L.L just nine months ago. Are we looking for 10$/sandwich by the end of 2014? Are they planning on serving only the rich? My suggestion: Since the same team that trained Roadster's staff help with the ZwZ one since you're one company now. The difference in knowhow and savor faire is tremendous. Zaatar W Zeit's new concept, intertwining the best of all worlds into a "Lebanese style" cafe is a big success. You get a Starbucks ambiance, mixed with the Pret A Manger menu and concept, adding to it some unique Lebanese spells... you'll get a recipe for success: "Zaatar W Zeit". I'll be coming back for a lunch review soon.