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Don Baker: A Dark Chocolate Crepe with Hints of Perfection (Discontinued)
Have you heard of Don Baker? No not that well known Irish blues musician, television personality, and actor from the 50's, but the Don Baker, a new eatery in Badaro. I was passing by the area when I spotted an interesting logo that's simple yet has a provincial to it feel. Nice I thought, so I parked my car and walked. The closer I got the more I understood what kind of place it was.
Don Baker is an upscale version of a 'local neighborhood mankoushi vendor'. I thought I would go in, grab a menu and check it out for next time…but when I decided to stay, only to discover one of the country’s yummiest pizzas.
Located on Badaro's main street, Don Baker is nestled in a neighborly surrounding. The place is small; You walk in and on your right you’ll find a cashier, a glass display and a small bar-like stand where people can enjoy a bite while watching Badaro’s locals pass by. Facing you is the kitchen, where it all happens openly and on your left a couple of tables with red sofa welcome you diner-style. On the outside a few tables surrounded with some neighborly greenery make time pass quickly and smoothly… We opted to sit outside. Honestly, I felt like I was sitting at home, on the balcony enjoying a calm afternoon in a casual manner… The menu, hosts a variety of simple bites to enjoy – Traditional Lebanese bites including cheese and zaatar mankoushi, pizzas, paninis, salads, donuts, drinks as well as crepes... You can choose to eat in-house or ask for a takeaway. Honestly, before I start, I just have to say that what you eat is much more than what you see... The quality, taste and richness served deserves a round applause to say the least.
- Le Grec panini: A Panini sandwich with chèvre, tomatoes, black olives and mint. Cut in two, the Panini is served simply on a plate. Nothing decorates the plate or complicates it. A simple bun filled with fresh ingredients giving it a homey feel. I would have personally would have added unheated tomatoes at a later stage to lessen the heat of this sandwich that needs couple minutes to cool down.
- La Fromagere pizza: Sauce tomato, mozzarella, emmental, chèvre, olives noires, oregano. Don Baker's pizzas are a perfect blend between our local mankoushe and Italian pizzas. A thin dough with a wide border, thin and enjoyable without being chewy nor crispy and covered with a generous load of toppings. On that is a premium tomato sauce that's most importantly not sweet covering a dough that's also not sweet. Mastering the equilibrium of flavors makes this pizza unique, different from the local bakers or from the Italian restaurants. On that, a crumble of white cheese... yum! PS: Eat it immediately while it's hot since the dough turns chewy very quickly.
- La Diva: Sauce tomato, jambon superior, mozzarella, Parmesan, champignons frays, poivron cuisines, tomates cerise, origan. That's an innovation I'll give a two thumbs up. An eye candy pizza blending a mix of beautiful colors, a cocktail of different textures and a unique taste that put a smile on my face.
If lunch was that tasty, I presumed that the crepes would be just as good. In a street bakery where everything is prepared on premisses from ketchup, mayonnaise, pizzas, and donuts... would the crepe be unique?
Welcome with me one of Lebanon's finest crepes. Yes, allow me to say it as it is, Lebanon's finest crepe eaten in a street food shop with fine dining qualities. I ordered the dark chocolate crepe (Chocorange), a blend of 100% Callebaut dark chocolate, orange jam and crushed almonds. Ouf! An overwhelming extravagant crepe presented in an uneven way and filled with a melting dark chocolate that's equilibrated by a small portion of orange jam that has a subtle taste while the almonds add this fine end enjoyable crunch. A fine piece of redefined finesse in every bite filling a thin dough that's crunchy on the sides and slightly chewy on the inside putting up-front the ingredients. Not only the filling is unique but the dough extremely special. To make it even more exceptional, a gently sugar powder covers it. Breathtaking to say the least!
Things I liked:
- All ingredients are homemade at Don Baker, from the mayonnaise, tomato mix and everything else
- The dough mix is perfect and not sweet: That's very important since no sugar is used to proof the dough
- They use premium ingredients - chocolate crepe is 100% dark chocolate from Callebaut
- Simplicity is a key factor here. You come in and enjoy good, clean and homemade preparations, don't expect a full fledged restaurant
- Don Baker is a family style business
What I suggest:
- I would keep the food display area full: At least keep some things for people to see and maybe wet their appetite
- Too much clutter inside. Pizza boxes is one of the first things you’ll see stacked one on top of the other; the space is claustrophobic
- Add placemats on the tables, especially outside, since it’s dusty and people are actually sitting next to the road
- You have a nice logo, share it
- Add a fan for those who wish to sit outside
Kudos to some of the hardworking guys out there truly working to bring something new to Lebanon... I truly wish you the best, especially in a country where political instability and growing competition is always a huge factor to consider...