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A restaurant located in an old house in Achrafieh has been making a buzz. Named Em Sherif, it is owned and run by Mireille Hayek, mother to young Sherif, entrepreneur and an inspiration to women across Lebanon. The same owner of another of my favorite restaurants, La Parillia, I got the chance to meet the woman during a photo shoot of the venue, who gave me the chance to sample the restaurant’s delicacies …
The owner is a bubbly character. Hardworking and ambitious yet welcoming at all times, she represents the modern Lebanese woman. The design concept for Em Sherif was her own idea and, meeting her, her strength of character is vividly obvious. Not only is she entirely in control of the place and staff, but she knows exactly what she wants, and she knows how to get it. And what does she want? Impeccable service and excellent food.
Walking into Em Sherif is like walking into an antique Lebanese mansion, except that it is lavished with luxury. Blue is the dominant color, its relaxing color.
Long swishes of material fall elegantly from the ceiling, giving an air of Arabian extravagance to the dining setting; delicate lamps hang around the room, offering an incandescent light. One wall is covered in delicate ornamental plates. The roof is hand painted beautifully yet keeping its original details... the humidity traces, the hole on the wall... just keeping it as natural as possible to a typical Lebanese home.
In spite of the restaurant’s evident opulence, its atmosphere is both relaxing and dignified. Objects are scattered randomly around, as if the restaurant was a home; all the accessories have been carefully chosen from different little souks around Beirut. The ceiling was even hand-painted by a local artist. Part of it is broken, a feature of the place’s age that Assaf chose to keep.
It is such attention to detail that makes Em Sherif such a pleasure to spend time in. And of course, to dine in. There is a live baking place so that hungry diners can watch – and smell – fresh bread being made right in front of them. Hayek’s idea was to upgrade the style of Lebanese food and to present it classily, yet also to ensure that the traditionally Lebanese value of generosity remains. Thus while there will be silverware on your table, you can be sure of generous portions …
I was there for lunch, you don't have to order the food, the food is simply served to your table starting with their Mezza which includes hummus , fried cauliflower, kebbeh, labneh, fatoush and tabouleh, mejedarah and many others as for the main course, every day they have a special dish, I was there on a Friday so the main dish was fish based, I had the Sayadiyeh and fish kebbeh arnabiyeh, for the desert, they serve rice pudding with cherry, mughli and fresh strawberry cream.
Lovely homemade food, nice ambiance, Em Sherif is one of those special places to try.
Em Sherif offers a set menu for lunch at reasonable price...