December 17, 2012 Gemmayze & Mar Mikhael Beirut Lebanon Middle East

BlackRock: A New Concept that Needs Fine Tuning (Restaurant Closed)
Casual Dining

Phone Number: +961 1 567 444

Address: Mar Mikhael main street, Achrafieh, Beirut, Lebanon


Price Range: 65-95 $


Welcoming: 4/5

Food Temperature: 3/10

Ambiance / Music: 4.5/10

Menu Choice: 4/5

Food Taste: 18/30

Architecture / Interior: 1/10

Food presentation: 6/10

Service: 6/10

Value for money: 5/10

In the heart of Mar Mikhael, facing Marinella and L'Humeur du Chef is BlackRock. The name is so intriguing that I wanted to check out this place and discover what is hidden behind those high glass facades. The Blackrock, a new steak lounge with an original concept serves quality meat, on what is known as the Lava Rock. If you're wondering what it is, a Lava Rock, when heated stays sizzling hot for more than half an hour, allowing you to cook your meat the way you like it...
I think that, with a few changes, BlackRock is a promising dining destination. But before saying anything, I have to thank the owners for introducing something new to the country - we have had enough of Italian restaurants, French bistros and copy cats...
When I reached, I thought the place was closed before seeing the valet running to take the car. A high glass facade welcomes you into a totally black ambiance. A large space with a modern bar is the first thing you see. It was empty!
I was a bit confused about the concept. The waiter, who welcomed us in, explained a bit about the place as he took us into a modern elevator to the third level. BlackRock is divided into three floors. The ground floor is a bar, the second is the lounge over viewing the bar and the third floor is the restaurant that is accessed by the state of the art panoramic elevator.
It was nice to feel the enthusiasm in the personnel for a change.
We were seated on a table over viewing the busy Mar Mikhael street.
Now was the time to start enjoying and understanding the interior. I still had that feeling of - are we in a nightclub or a restaurant?
  • Black interior, hence the name
  • Blue and red table cloth that are too cheap looking
  • Metallic chair covers - I didn't see how they all blended
  • Reflective black ceramic flooring, reflective black plexi-glass on the ceiling and more reflections on the walls - too much happening
  • 6 LCD screens expressing action and colors
In the meantime I couldn't help but noticing pieces of big black rocks being served on the other tables, bursting with aroma - its a piece of meat seared and sizzling on a hot volcanic stone. I thought it's a must try!
The menu sections:
Soups, starters, salads, rocks, side dishes, sauces, desserts, coffee, water, sodas & juices, beer, wine by the glass, white wines, rose wines, red wines, champagne, vodka, whiskey, bourbon, tequila, gin, rum, spirits, brandy & cognac.
We Ordered:
  • Duck selection (foie gras, smoked duck magret, quince jelly and figs bread) 28,000LL
  • Cognac blazed shrimps (shrimps blazed with cognac served with avocado and tomatoes tartare) 24,000LL
  • Rocks: BR selection (our choice tenderloin) 300g for 48,000LL with 2 side dishes (purée a l'ancienne and spinach and cream) and sauces (blue cheese, honey mustard)
  • BR Burger (Australian black Angus) 36,000LL
The food:
  • Hot fig bread served with delicious foie gras and thin tasty magret duck slices
  • Crunchy fresh shrimps covered with ground black pepper served with an avocado salad mixed with small diced tomato cubes perfectly seasoned with lemon juice and cognac
  • The rock concept is great. I loved the meat, its softness and how fast it cooks on the stone. The meat served is first quality and melts under your teeth. Congratulation.
  • Unfortunately the side orders we received were extremely cold. We were then rushed with two new hot orders where the difference in color between the first and the second is clear...
  • Too bad the side orders are tasteless. The puree needs more seasoning and the spinach, which is my favorite dish, is very neutral. Thank you again though for the gesture...
  • The meat sauces can be better. They lack personality and strength in taste.
My favorite dish today was the cognac shrimps
The Burger: "It might be better to remove it from the menu".
  • Served in a soft bun with no sesame and melts under your teeth.
  • Ketchup, mustard and BBQ sauce are served on a separate plate; I like that.
  • No one asked me how I liked my meat cooked. It came well done! Where as I would have asked for it medium rare.
  • The meat is juicy and tasty with caramelized onions inside giving the burger all its taste. There are more onions than meat in this burger. It's the only thing I felt with every bite.
  • The meat is too small, 2cm smaller in diameter than the bun making you eat more bread than meat. It needs to be bigger to fill the bun and it should be thicker for the price we are paying.
  • The bacon that comes with it is inedible, its strong to chew and it was extremely cold.
  • Only one thin slice of pickle in the burger! Please, we need minimum 4 to fill the entire surface of the bun.
Details I like:
  • Ashtrays without a cigarette support
  • The choice between local and European water: Sohat and Aqua Panna
  • Four pieces of warm crunchy bread presented in a stainless tray with pesto cream Boursin dip. Oups! It contains garlic
  • The burger dish is big and comes with three compartments. The burger is served on a cold rock  in the middle with side dishes on each side
Changes Needed:
  • The biggest mistake, I believe, is entering a large empty space before reaching the restaurant. During the day, a separation should be put so the customers are taken directly to the third floor via the elevator
  • The decoration is really unpleasant and unwelcoming especially during day time. I would do something to make it feel like a restaurant
  • Table napkins are a must in a high standard restaurant like this one. It is unacceptable to have to use white tissue paper.
  • The restaurant needs a stronger ventilation system. The smell is a major problem. Do not forget to come with a bag of changing clothes. You'll definitely need them after your meal
Georges, our waiter, is very nice, funny and welcoming but you feel that his character doesn't reflect the place which is too serious.
In general, the food is not bad but BlackRock feels like a nightclub, rather than a a fine restaurant where a meal costs $60$/person.
Pain Perdu: I admit its served in a nice way: little cubes inside a square bowl with caramel sauce on the side. It's very dry, crunchy on top and moist at the bottom and lacks a lot of milk. Caramel sauce is mouthwatering but should be softer to compensate for the lack of moisture of the bread cubes. A new invention that needs a lot of mastering. French people created this dish hundreds of years ago and mastered it to perfection... We can't be better than them over night. Right? I like conventional...
I was a bit disappointed especially after the cold dishes incident and considering the waiter insisted on us trying their famous Pain Perdu, the least the management should have done was offer us the dessert. We paid 22,000L.L for something which was far from being a French toast.
I am writing this review knowing that these guys deserve a break - the idea is new and it's there. The concept is good. The food is acceptable... But it requires a lot of work to survive. Don't count on the idea of a "New Imported Concept" - this will not make customers come back. I think you should  start focusing on the details that will make a difference.

Suitable For: Casual Dining





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