A year a half has already passed since my my last visit to Cafe Margot. Located amidst busy Furn El Chebbak area on one Beirut's hidden streets, this little provincial eatery is known for its freshly baked in-house bread. During my first visit, I was amazed by the professionalism of this family business, where the smell of freshly baked bread deliciously floats around. I liked this place once upon a time, when professional service was a priority and positive vibes fill the place... a sensation you don't experience in many restaurants around Lebanon. Unfortunately, all good things come to an end - nothing lasts forever. The food is good and the desserts are great - but one man (the waiter) can make your experience hell... You will forget the nice decor that fills the place and the good food that its offered...
I previously wrote: "Café Margot is a fresh face to classic French edibles. Café Margot is completely furnished with Provencal wooden elements which directly disconnect you from the outside world and transport you to the warm and cozy atmosphere of French cafes. Once inside, the smell of freshly baked croissants make somewhat of a design statement themselves, as they offer just as much to the atmosphere as a painting on the wall. however, these design tactics give your taste buds something to look forward to".
Today's feeling was completely different from the very first moment I stepped inside. It all started with a bad welcoming, followed by disgraceful service and a nonchalant uncaring good-bye. The experience I had was caused by the horrible so-called waiter who believes he is the king of this restaurant, as the owners don't seem to be spending too much time around. The mistakes are obvious and clear for any amateur to discover.
The waiter... I mean the king of the premises, with an esteemed CV which includes big restaurants in Lebanon, seemed to have forgotten everything he learned, if he did learn anything:
- Standing behind the counter, a hand supporting his head, he looked at me as soon, as I opened the restaurant's door, in a surprised way and said: "Na3am" which means Yes, in Arabic. Next time, a good morning sir, how can I help you, would have been much appreciated
- Clumsy and brusque he seemed stressed the whole time, bumping into things the whole time... He bumped into my back at least ten times during lunch
- Approaching our table, he directly proposed the plat du jour, until I asked for the restaurant's menu. I thought there wasn't one. When I asked him he answered, yes and went to get it
- His language and attitude are repulsive
- I asked for ice: he replied that the machine is not working and that no ice is available today
- The service was bad on all levels
- The cleanliness and setup of the table is unacceptable
- I prefer to stop here to give him a chance to keep his current job - but I would just like to remind the waiter, the number one thing they teach you is that "customer is always right - he's the king..."
It was time for lunch:
- Quiche aux Epinards: A thin and small piece of pie, crunchy on the sides and spongy on the inside, with small quantity of spinach that makes it so small and non-fulfilling. I would need three of these to enjoy a decent lunch. As for the cheese that covers this preparation, it's too oily, too fatty and too sticky. I didn't like it at all and made the management know about it 10,000L.L
- The bread is just great, I admit it. Crunchy and fresh, the size of this sandwich is good and filled with premium ingredients. Cheese and ham served in white baguette or salmon in brown baguette, both are just great.
- Cheese and ham sandwich: Emmental, ham, pickles, lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise, lettuce 10,000L.L
- Smoked salmon sandwich: Salmon, capers, aneth and cream cheese 16,000L.L
- All sandwiches are served with a side salad: Rocket, iceberg and cherry tomato
- Plat du jour: Brochettes de Crevettes, Bahamas aux fruits exotiques. A well cooked Basmati rice served with a wide selection of grilled caramelized fruits and vegetables in a skewer. Tomatoes, mushroom, potatoes, pineapple, kiwi and banana accompanying 7 giant shrimps. That's a very good plate indeed and super generous. The shrimps have a charcoal flavour I enjoyed. Pealing them is easy and their crunch is enjoyable. As for the sauce, it is smooth and non fatty.
Their bread is exquisite. A delicious taste, a perfect crust and an amazing color all can be found in their rich and generous sandwiches provided by the DeliFrance recipe.
We decided to continue further and try their desserts:
- Tart Amande Miel: A crunchy dough filled with rich crunchy and condensed almonds stuck together with the honey. A taste that is not too sweet and an overall creation that is addictive. 5,000L.L
- Strawberry Tart: Not too sweet as well, crunchy, rich and tasty 5,000L.L
- Chocolate Eclair: I would have preferred it darker and stronger. It's color looks like a coffee eclair. The taste is faded between coffee, caramel and chocolate. Can be better 4,000L.L
- The bread is great
- The sandwiches are delicious
- The salad is fresh and tasty
- I loved the desserts: Bravo
- No ice today, and the waiter didn't mention it to the management so they get some from the supermarket
- No San Pelligrino. Out of stock with no effort to fix that
- The sandwich plates presentation is not appetizing. They look empty and stingy
- Plates have to be changed and replaced from square to rectangular ones
- The waiter has to undergo intensive training
Without going into details - respecting the dignity of this restaurant- I had an issue with the Quiche and informed the management about it. I didn't order another one. I think out of courtesy to the client and expression of remorse towards the client, the least they could have done was replace this dish with another, or remove this plate from the bill or offer the dessert. Something to show that they are a bit apologetic... Any other conclusion would have been fine, any gesture... but nothing.
I expected more from Cafe Margot, specially for a dine-in. It's a shame to experience a good restaurant that serves good food but lacks professionalism. I would definitely recommend you order their sandwiches or desserts and this outside the place... anytime you want to indulge in a premium sandwiche during your lunch break; but I would not come back again for an in-house meal until things are back on track.