Ahwak, one of City Centre Beirut's restaurants and Arguile spots is the place many come to for its premium location under the starred skies of our capital.
Choose to sit on the terrace or inside, this well lit space decorated with oriental touches. Walk on the dark marble floor covered with wooden tables each surrounded with sofas or wooden chairs and their red leather seating. On the left side is a wall covered with mirrors, while the right side hosts a decorative display of old items. Half the ceiling is backlit while the other half has glass lanterns hanging from it.
Facing the dining space are two bars, the open kitchen and the Arguile station. Burgundy, red, light brown, grey and wood, oriental touch with some modernism. Outside is a fully loaded terrace packed with people coming to smoke and surely enoy the vibes.
We were welcomed by a professional waiter who helped us a lot with the menu while throwing jokes here and there. A big smile on his face, it was a good first impression.
Calmly sitting in a corner on a relaxing bench we ordered and waited to be served. The menu is divided like all Lebanese restaurants into salads, cold mezze, hot mezze, sandwiches, main courses and desserts.
Dinner started with drinks, while a bowl of peanuts and another of termoss landed on the table, along with a labneh mix and a basket of fresh homemade bread. I believe I ordered a bit of everything to have an overall idea of the food.
- Majdoule Salad: Served in a bowl is a generous portion of moujaddaleh, white cheese topping a load of fresh greens, purslane, radish, cucumber, radish, rocket leaves and lettuce. The cheese is soft due to its contact with the sauce while the vegetables crunch in style. I loved this salad.
- Hummus: The hummus was firm and a bit too condensed for my taste with an overdose of tahina. The tahina is a bit prominent, covering the chickpea taste and lemon flavor. I didn't feel any garlic and I like that, but would have preferred it to be smoother, lighter and more airy.
- Trabilsiyeh: What looks a bit like Samkeh Harra is a mix of fish with tahina, crunchy nuts, coriander and diced vegetables. Moist fish with flavorful tahina and those fried bites to add the crunch it needs. Fresh, flavorful and offering a long lasting experience.
- Makanek: Three skewers in an oval plate decorated with cherry tomatoes and pine nuts. Honestly the plate doesn't look too appetizing, especially because the Makanek look dry, but you'll change your mind as you bite into the first one. Juicy, tender, a light envelope. Those are good and enjoyable without any bad aftertaste. Recommended.
- Lebanese Mixed Kebbeh: Two meat and two others with chicken and eggplant. Wow! Those with chicken and eggplant ones are awesome! The envelope is perfectly cooked and the filling is moist and juicy. A light sweetness, a light crunch, a boost of flavors and crunchy walnuts. That's yummy.
- Chicken liver: Generously filled, an oval plate has a huge portion of richly flavorful chicken liver, but unfortunately it was dry. They look and feel dry. You feel the coriander as well as the pomegranate molasses adding a hint of sweetness. I believe the unique part of this plate are the spices.
- Tolmiyyeh Club: Marinated chicken breast served in a tolmiyyah bread with grilled potatoes on the side. Three portions of round sandwiches, thick tolmiyyeh bread filled with chunks of chicken like tawouk, mayonnaise, lettuce and mint leaves with spices. Despite the fact that I ordered it without garlic, the sandwich was served with mayonnaise, but the chicken was over marinated with garlic. Unfortunately, with all the marinating, it's still dry. As a sandwich, served with pickles, black olives, a green salad and potatoes on the side, that's a plate I'd order, but would make the chicken bits smaller and surely marinate them more to be juicier.
I liked the ambiance, enjoyed seeing people happy, some playing Tawlet other smoking the shisha, while others plunged into those generously filled plates.
The food is good and enjoyable and, most importantly, the plates show a certain generosity lately missing around town.
Now for the dessert. I couldn't leave without trying one of their beautiful-looking desserts showcased on their iPads.
- Maamoul Crumble: Served in a cup is a crumble of Maamoul next to a scoop of Sahlab ice cream and Ashtabula decorated with a strawberry. The ice cream is tasty and not too sweet, the arishé was correct and the Maamoul adds the texture to make this dessert special.
- Crusty Ismalliyeh: That's my thing! Sugar syrup, sliced strawberries with two layers of Ismalliyeh filled with yellow custard cream despite the Ashta description. Sweet and fresh, strongly crunchy and the filling is good.
- The plates are generous.
- The food is flavorful.
- The service is good. Hussein, our waiter, was amazing.
- Nice desserts.
- A bit more tenderness is needed for the chicken, sandwich and liver.
- The music lacks some identity. Feyrouz, classic, French, Frank Sinatra or jazz? I was lost. Isn't it a Lebanese restaurant?
- I'd add photos to the menu, exactly like the dessert one.
Arguile on the terrace, food and fun, Ahwak it is.