This month, a new place opened its doors, Acoté, which in French means "next to it". The new cafe which opened alongside Prune and owned by the same owner, promises the same spirit.
Located next to Prune, the famous bistro of Mar Mikhael, sits, Acoté, a cafe/casual eatery proposing a selection of quick bites of which a foie gras burger, a pastrami sandwich, a braised beef ciabiata and a lobster roll are the standout items. A beautiful setup, a casual ambiance and some positive vibes are waiting to welcome you.
When I heard that someone wanted to bring lobster rolls and pastrami sandwiches to Lebanon I didn't know what to think. Would they be unsuccessful copies of those famous sandwiches from New York and London, or would they get it right? Visiting Acoté recently, I enjoyed a fine dinner which left me amazed.
- Out on the sidewalk is a terrace
- On the terrace, a wooden floor is home to a couple of square and round wooden tables set under a printed vinyl ceiling. Plants lead to the entrance, while the design makes you feel like you're sitting in a forest.
- The general feel is wood, metal and black and black chairs and a black board are the first items that grab your attention.
- The spirit is of a New York street brasserie, with metallic design items like the big lights, high stools and other, old style lights.
- The exterior lights hang under a large vinyl design comprised of trees.
- At the entrance, a long high table seats ten and is lit with ten hanging lights. Beautiful!
- The floor is covered with old Lebanese-style tiles, a beautiful contrast between old and new.
- Facing the entrance, at the bottom of the venue, is a bar where drinks are prepared.
- The main design item is the back-lit metallic structure of Beirut's waterfront taking over the right hand wall.
- Next to the door is a green cupboard, the kind found in old Lebanese kitchens where housewives used to hide their food.
As dinner started, two jars, one for ketchup and another for mustard, landed in front of us.
- Gourmet sandwiches
- To share or not to share
- Coffee and juices
Let's eat some specialties:
- Bab el Wad LBP19,000 (Merguez, harrissa mayo, tomato and mint): New to the country, a Merguez sandwich will make you drool. A thin and long sausage stuffed with mint leaves inside a baguette with a fine sauce. Alone, the sausage is so juicy from the inside, slightly elastic cover and lots of love. Merguez is a red, spicy mutton- or beef-based fresh sausage in North African cuisine. Merguez is a fresh sausage made with lamb, beef, or a mixture stuffed into a lamb-intestine casing. It is heavily spiced with cumin and chili pepper or Harissa, which gives it its characteristic piquancy and red color, as well as other spices such as sumac, fennel, and garlic.
- Slow Braised Lamb Sandwich LBP20,000 (gigot d'agneau with curry sauce): Wow, that's a very interesting sandwich to say the least. I still had an aftertaste 10 minutes later. Just imagine round ciabatta bread filled with shredded lamb, roquette lettuce, sun dried tomatoes and a special curry sauce. Warm on the inside, a chewy bread, a premium filling... That's really a sandwich that's unique and one of a kind.
- Frenchie Gourmet Burger LBP25,000 (served with foie gras, poele, caramelized onions and rucola): Gourmet it is. A thick, juicy 130 grams of premium beef that's a bit fatty because of the grilled foie gras slice, decorated with some caramelized onions. I loved the juiciness of the meat, the finesse of the foie gras and the sweetness of the caramelized onions. Even though the bun is a bit chewy, that's a premium burger indeed. I'll come back for it.
- Lobster Roll LBP32,000 (the real recipe from Maine): I was in London last week and had two lobster rolls, going by that, this is a very good one indeed. A very good version of the lobster roll, but with less butter, less mayonnaise and less fat, a full potion of lobster, with a thin slice of lettuce and perfect seasoning. The bun is so tender, so light and subtly covered with butter to make one side crispy. The sandwich comes with chips, crispy and salted. I loved them.
- Burger served with fries LBP20,000: Awesome! Really good! A fluffy, tender bun on top of a medium rare patty that's so tender and soft, with one lettuce leaf, a super thin piece of tomato and sauce. Press it between your fingers and enjoy a cocktail of equilibrated textures and great taste.
The desserts are also not to be missed:
- Banana split cherry on the top LBP14,000: This made me remember the old days... A full bodied homemade whipped cream, decorated with a chocolate sauce topping three scoops of ice cream with half a banana on each side: The memories of my childhood on a plate. A really good whipped cream, premium ice cream from Vanille, the chocolate chip one, and tender bananas. The most important thing of all were the cherries, the cherries on top, fine grillottes, black in color and intense in flavor. Bravo.
- Cheese cake LBP14,000: Very, very, very good. Really, it wasn't like anything I've had in a restaurant before. Lemon, sugar, cheese... A superb, mouthwatering cheese cake that you'll surely have to indulge in.
Searching for new adventurous discoveries where good food is guaranteed, at reasonable prices and premium ingredients? Acoté it is!