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Abou Joseph: Some Old Places Are Still Worth Trying
Having occupied its premium location for more than three decades, Abou Joseph is the restaurant you pass by every day while going to work. Nestled in the heart of Lebanon, on our county’s busiest highways, Jal el Dib, this small restaurant is known for its sandwiches and authentic Lebanese food.
I always asked myself, “Why to go searching for new places to discover when there are old ones that still offer a guaranteed good experience?” I’ve been here in 2014 and now back for the same experience — same decor, same waiter, same white lighting... very old, the old non-updated way.
Park your car in front of Abou Joseph. The restaurant has two doors; the left one which leads to the grill and sandwicheria area, while the right one is for direct access to the seating area. Abou Joseph is more of a street style diner than a restaurant, a terrace transformed into a dining space overlooking the highway. The grill, on the other hand, welcomes sandwich-cravers all day, and you can enjoy fine rolls of grilled meat, chicken, kebab and makanek to name but a few.
Find white table covers decorated with beige ones, white porcelain plates, low ceiling, white lighting, and a shisha display... Everything was just the same as when the place first opened. The menu serves a selection of simple Lebanese choices without any sophistication: cold mezze, hot mezze, raw meat, salads, and grills.
Let's have dinner:
- Lahme Beajine: super-thin, Lahme Beajine covered with juicy meat. A crispy border crumbles like biscuit and food quality meat. They say, you have to come here for the Lahme Beajine... yes you have to, but Kababji's are better.
- Stuffed grapevine leaves: Lovely rolls, perfectly stuffed, offering an interesting sour and lemony flavor along with tender ingredients. A generous portion of tasty creations.
- Tabbouleh: Good old genuine tabbouleh that's tasty, fresh, perfectly cut, professionally mixed and enjoyable. I had it without onions and without borghol, yet the sauce is tasty and the mix enjoyable.
- Hummus: good enough. As good as any hummus I had.
- Labneh: I ordered it because I remembered it to be amazing five years ago. Today’s Labneh is commercial like any that you can buy at the supermarket.
- Sambousik: Cooked the old way. Spongy dough, I believe needs more cooking, feels undercooked, filled with meat.
- Kebbe: generously filled but unfortunately the envelope is chewy and feels undercooked. Add hummus for better enjoyment.
- Fried makanek: As good as you’d expect, those fatty little fingers were perfectly cooked and enjoyable to the last bit. Juicy, rich, and enjoyable.
- Meat: Forget about the fat, forget about your cholesterol levels and indulge in some tender pieces of fatty meat that melt under your teeth like butter. It’s the way I love my meat, fully textured and full-bodied. I like to feel the meat and not eat something very tender.
Waiters don’t feel like working; I didn’t feel welcomed. It’s probably better to come here for the sandwiches.
At Abou Joseph, the decor is old, the ambiance is rustic, and the food is served without any sophistication. Don't expect to be amazed, but rather to eat some average Lebanese food that might take you back down memory lane of your childhood. We dined alone, my wife and I enjoyed a calm discussion and went back home on a Sunday night.