There are treasures in our country that we don't know off. There are restaurants that have been running for more than half a century with a history, which we often miss. I was lucky to have had the opportunity to get close and personal with one such gem called Halim. Who is Halim? What is Halim?
Halim, known to serve the best charcoal grilled birds in Lebnaon and after my experience, I would say the region, is the simplest set up you can ever imagine. First opened in 1920's, Halim is located on the first floor of an old building on Bhamdoun el Mahatta main street where guests were welcomed to enjoy the basic Lebanese Mezze served on a wooden tray including hummus, salad, pickles followed by grilled makanek and charcoal grilled birds. The restaurant at that time had no windows and no floor tiles. It stayed that way until the early sixties when the three sons of Halim took over the restaurant and transformed into a simple and calm place. The spirit remained the same, so don't expect to walk into a grandiose setting. No decoration, no table cloths, no carpets, no paintings, no music: A simple white space with white wooden tables, blue plastic chairs and a big kitchen that's open. The basic necessity to just sit and enjoy a delicious homemade Lebanese lunch prepared from the heart.
If you have not visited Halim yet, you are missing out on a lot of our Lebanese culture.
Today, Philippe Halim Abou Reilly is the boss and the maestro in the kitchen. Chef Phillippe doesn't leave his kitchen and doesn't accept to give the legacy of grilling to anyone else. He is the master at handling the BBQ space which covers a long wall in the kitchen. As soon as we sat down at the table, we were greeted by lovely and smily waiters who made sure no detail of this amazing experience is taken for granted.
We had for lunch:
- Delicious crunchy, hand pealed home style fries.
- A pure hummus with an unequaled authentic taste.
- Mashed potatoes that need an award! Yes, Halim serves one of the simplest plates imaginable-assorted mashed potatoes with lemon and oil- that are finger licking good. A really extraordinary taste that made me eat a full plate by myself. Every bite is a marvellous mixture of softness, tenderness and simplicity.
- Mouthwatering Makanek, soft and tasty without being fatty.
- Moutabbal from the village.
- Local cold and fresh tomatoes with sumac and garlic and a drop of olive oil. You can taste the purity of the tomatoes.
- The famous Birds, soft and tender served on markouk bread, as they whole country already knows: Halim's birds are the best. I really don't know what the secret is but the birds we ate that day surely come from another planet. The simplicity of preparing and serving these tiny little creatures - your craving buds will call for them every day. Soft and tender with a juicy crunch that doesn't even need to be eaten with bread. Really awesome!
What I loved:
- The kitchen window delivering a plate after the other to the hungry clientele.
- A kitchen bell calling for ready plates.
- Chef Philippe's smile and action in the kitchen is worth watching behind the window.
- The fresh breath of air moving peacefully around the place.
- Halim's homemade Arak: A delicacy.
The only dessert served here are the Lebanese Karabij with Natef that are good. But believe me, after such a good lunch, no dessert is even needed.
I'll surely be back sooner than you can imagine.