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Chez Sami: The Seafood Specialist
Last time I was at Chez Sami was in 2012 and even though I haven't visited since, the reputation of this famous restaurant precedes it. Known to be one of the country's best fish restaurants, Chez Sami deserves another visit, new photos and a new tasting specially after building their seashore terrace. Tonight's experience is shocking!
Spread on several levels and hosting a terrace by the sandy beach, Chez Sami located at the entrance of Maameltein welcomes its guests for lunch and dinner. A restaurant with warm lights and fine materials, the place is decorated with wood, parquet floor and straw covering the ceiling, offering a distinguished decor without forgetting the Mediterranean feel. Give your car to the valet, walk in front of the fish display and down to the beach. The first impression is however of a dull place, a dim corridor... some fresh vibes missing!
Calm, serenity, the sounds of the crashing waves on this beautiful day of October... but no music and a staff that's strict and firm. Expected more pampering, more smiles, more attention and more professionalism especially for the price you pay. Asked for Arak Brun, the country's best and most famous but unfortunately they don't have it in their repertoire.
We were one of the few tables tonight, in this stern ambiance, we could hear the waiters chit-chatting and ashtrays land on the other tables.
The first impression:
- It's a fish restaurants so don't expect to order Hummus with meat.
- Fattouch has garlic in it.
- Staff are not happy to be working here.
- Waiters really don't smile while looking at their phone to take the order. A small phone and in my opinion too technological for a Lebanese restaurant. It makes you lose the feel of it.
- Music, please add some music. The waiters will be happier, as well as the customers.
Dinner is served:
- Tender grapevine leaves stuffed with soft rice. A touch of acidity though an enjoyable taste.
- Fattouch, fresh vegetables, nothing to write home about. Tabbouleh is fresh and well cut, but shouldn't it be served with lettuce and cabbage?
- Good hummus; light and smooth, creamy and lemony with pine nuts on top. A generous load of pine nuts with olive oil over a clean hummus portion. Enjoyed that one! I always said that you can know the level of a Lebanese restaurant from its hummus.
- Waw! That intense moutabbal that tickles your tongue and palate! Excellent plate indeed.
- The samak bizri is excellent! Probably the best I've had the last year or so, mini fish fried to perfection, an enjoyable crunch and a moist tender heart, samak bizri that's not hard like chips and doesn't even need lemon to be flavorful. Bravo to this one.
- Try the kebbet samak; no onion taste but something caramelized, a firm envelop, no oil smell, Kebbeh and a subtle fish flavor. It is yummy.
- Breaded calamari fingers with their tartar sauce. They're known for it for a reason. Good quality calamari cooked to perfection.
- Loved the fries; thickly hand cut fries the real Lebanese way. Really good fries few know how to do. A crunchy envelop and super tender heart, real potato taste and no oil. I'd come back here for those fries.
- Now for the shrimp. Charcoal grilled and peeled, served on a stainless tray offered with cocktail sauce. Easy to eat, they're addictive!
A big fish cooked in sea salt, a very tender fish ready to be enjoyed as is with lemon and olive oil. Masters of fish cooking this sea bass. This is what you're ordering next time for 158,000LL the kilogram!
The needed improvements:
- Train the waiters to smile, it's not an honor for us to dine here so having a pushy attitude will push us for good! Competition is harsh and other restaurants pamper you like a king.
- Tabbouleh left aside and forgotten should be served with cabbage and lettuce.
- Music please!
- Bread is toasted in advance, so it's not crunchy enough.
- Lebanese fresh bread is a must at a Lebanese restaurant at least in my opinion. It only costs the price of an oven and adds a huge value... if it's a hassle, get a markouk Saj.
- Prepare yourself to leave with a backache. Tables are a couple centimeters lower than the international standard making you plunge to reach the plate. Change them or probably cut the chairs feet, it would be cheaper.
- For the price paid and the restaurant's standard, table towels are a must and glass water bottles as well.
The waiter approached with nylon wrapped perfumed hot towels before cleaning the table to serve dessert. Dinner ends with two kinds of fruits (grapes and kaki) with two kinds of jam, Halawa and carob molasses.
Wait ten minutes for the cheque, have it thrown on the table and leave without hearing a thank you. Service is bare!
Good, very good food is served here but I can't say the same about the service. I was disappointed by the waiters' attitude and finesse which is non existent; serious training needed! It's sad to see Chez Sami lose its fine standard.