Lebanese, Lebanese with a twist, Iraqi, Armenian, Levantine ... and more cuisines... And now add Allepine to the list of various cuisines our country has to offer. Bab Sharki, located in the heart of Achrafieh has become the most talked-about in restaurant in town for its innovative and delicious offerings.
At the corner off a street down in Sioufi is Bab Sharki, a small restaurant and grill hosting couple tables, a fridge and a BBQ. Open the door to be welcomed by the large fridge filled its a mouthwatering choice of meat skewers while you are shown to your table. Enjoy the high ceiling, warm ambiance, the posters which decorate the walls and a large LCD on one wall...
The place is simple yet nice to look into:
- Old Lebanese tiles cover the floor
- Dark wooden tables decorated with with tiles in their center fill in the space
- Some tables are covered with red table cloths while others are left as is
- A large LCD TV fills one of the walls
- The place is well lit by five red lanterns pending from the ceiling on the right side and two white ones on the left
- Light white curtains block the strong sunny spells
- The restaurant hosts an open kitchen and grill preparing plates and sandwiches
- Six paintings decorate the main wall and couple small others cover the small one facing the entrance
Lunch started with an appetizer's plate: Chanklish, green olives, stuffed cabbage leaves, a vegetable selection and pickles with a basket of homemade fresh bread - a great first impression and I just knew that the best was yet to come.
We ordered... all of the below with Arak for only $85:
- Manteh bel fekhara LBP6,000:
- Mjarmasheh LBP3,000:
- Armenian Lahm b Ajin LBP6,000:
- Kabab Karaz LBP25,000:
- Toshka LBP9,000:
- Bab Sharki potato LBP8,000:
- Grilled Kebbe Sajieh LBP12,000:
- Harak Issbaou LBP6,000:
- Hommos with meat LBP12,000:
- Bab Sharki Salad LBP7,500:
- Maamoul bi Jebneh LBP5,000:
Let's eat some tasty Allepine specialities. Food here is a balanced blend between Armenian and Lebanese food, creating where the most interesting of flavors come about. We started with a fresh Bab Sharki salad composed of artichokes, cucumbers, tomatoes and corn followed by a special dish called Harak Esba3ou or in English (he burnt his finger). A delicacy composed of lentils, fried pieces of puff bread, crunchy and non oily mixed with fried onions. What a plate! A must try for sure when you visit. Hommos is even good, tender and warm, a non fatty meat covering it that's a bit chewy, decorated with fried pine nuts. After that, landed the potatoes, those special pillows known in the region of Anjar and now available on the market
. A perfect first impression while we enjoyed superb oriental food, a mix of Lebanese, Syrian and Armenian combined.
Hot plates followed while Armenian lahme be3ajine made its entrance. Two meat loafs, cut in squares, thin like paper and filled with the finest meat. A crunchy border, a thin fluffy core creating a fine innovation with a subtle spicy aftertaste. It is unique indeed; I've been raised on those, created by a famous Armenian next door
and now I'm happy that all Beiruty people can try them.
Now, the tastiest part deserves a paragraph on its own. Come here and ask to eat Toshka. Toshka is simple yet innovative and extremely tasty. Two loafs of Lebanese bread are turned upside down, dreaded with kafta and white cheese then toasted. The bread absorbs more heat giving it a crunchy pleasant feel while the meat and cheese melt under your teeth in style. A good combination of spices and flavors in every bite that will put a smile on your face. Yum!
Armenian Manti is distinctly different than manti of other cultures, as it is most often cooked rather than steamed and tends to be smaller in size. The manti is filled with minced lamb, finely chopped onions and various other spices. The manti is first fried lightly in butter then boiled in a tomato-based broth and topped with garlic yogurt; they may also be baked and have chicken-based broth. Dry sumac and pepper are sprinkled on top to taste, along with yogurt. They're good but I've had better in town.
The Kebbe sajieh was dull... nothing to write home about.
The best for last... Cherry kebab: A plate generously filled with kebab balls mixed in cherry sauce and decorated with grilled pine nuts. A piece of premium juicy meat, small chewy cherries and an adequately sweet sauce. What a mix! A sweet and sour mix of extraordinary ingredients. I loved it and believe it's one of the best in town.
Lunch was not only excellent, but generous and very affordable. We ate all of the above with Brun arak, the best and most expensive, all for $28 per person. Lunch ended with a selection of Apricot jam, strawberry jam with mint and strawberry jam with roses, all homemade and very tasty.
Tasty appetizers, delicious lunch, awesome kebab an enjoyable ambiance... Now for a simple dessert that was breathtaking. Bab Sharki's cheese maamoul were different, full of taste, textures and flavors. I enjoyed their cheese maamoul which crumbles like a French sable as you bite into it to enjoy sweet cheese filling topped with powder sugar. No syrup needed.
I never imagined to be amazed by a place as humble as this. On a street corner, this restaurant serves great food. Walk in without any expectations and enjoy a unique experience and a different approach towards Middle Eastern cuisine that many of us didn't know exists.