March 24, 2014 Gemmayze & Mar Mikhael Beirut Lebanon Middle East

Kahwet Leila: I Was Expecting Better... (Restaurant Closed)

Phone Number: +961-1-561888

Address: Gemmayze Street, Saifi, Beirut, Lebanon


Price Range: 0-0 $


Welcoming: 3/5

Food Temperature: 7/10

Ambiance / Music: 2/10

Menu Choice: 4/5

Food Taste: 20/30

Architecture / Interior: 9/10

Food presentation: 7/10

Service: 2/10

Value for money: Soon

Kahwet Leila Gemmayze, Beirut (Restaurant Closed)

I enjoy coming back to a place I have tried several times and enjoyed. With every visit comes a different experience, some of which are good and others end up being a bit disappointing. Kahwet Leila is one such place I have enjoyed several times... but this time, although the food was acceptable, a few other things I encountered during my last visit, left me a bit disappointed, especially coming from a brand like Leila. 


I think by now everyone knows Kahwet Leila, Leila Achrafieh's little cousin. Nestled in the heart of Gemmayze, where many restaurants have already left, Kahwet Leila still welcomes locals and tourists to introduce them to authentic Lebanese cuisine in this old setup inspired by the famous Kahwet El Ezez the older generation enjoyed.
The venue is surrounded by glass walls, allowing you to enjoy both the café and the bustle out on the street. Its high ceiling and detailed tiles are reminiscent of older times when people used to go to a “Kahwé”. It doesn’t stop here. The spacious venue boasts several stations, or as they call them “dkékeen”, to provide the ambiance of Lebanese markets back in the day. The “dkékeen” are divided as follows: the salad station, the cocktails, fruits and desserts stations, the coffee station and the DJ station (or booth). Each stop has a unique feel to it and provides an essential element to both the décor and the customer. Unlike old cafés though, Kahwet Leila provides very comfortable and cushioned seating.
It's so lovely to rediscover the old days through a series of memorabilia like the old Pepsi bottles, the thick glass bottle 7up, logos from the past, Ghandour biscuit boxes, TOP juice synthetic lemonade, kazouzat Jalloul, Arabic coffee, chiclets and much more.
The tables and chairs are spacious and allow room for walking around and enough space for all the mezzé. Walls are adorned with vintage photos and paintings that are either modern with a classic feel or actually brought back in time from decades past. Whether it’s the old records, Ghandour biscuits or old Pepsi bottles, something or everything about this place will give you a warm feeling inside. My personal favorite element is a very old Pepsi advertisement hung on the wall on the way to the restrooms.
This venue is very casual and comfortable; ideal for families, groups of friends, or a quick afternoon lunch break any day of the week.
The menu section:
  • Salatet Al Kahwet
  • Mezzet Al Kahwet
  • Hoes served Mezze
  • Batata
  • Fatteh w bayd
  • Kaak and clubs
  • Grills and platters
  • Beverages
  • Spirits
  • Narguileh
Lunch started with a metallic basket of freshly prepared hot Markouk bread, distributed on the length of the table with Zaatar and nuts sauce. We enjoyed them while we waited for the appetizers.
We had for lunch:
  • Hummus was full of taste and flavors.
  • A mixed labneh with vegetables platter lacked taste and consistency. The labneh used is too dull and close to being disgusting.
  • The stuffed vine leaves had a pleasant texture and a strong lemony feel.
  • The tabboule was crunchy fresh vegetables are tasty.
  • The moutabal was very good.
  • Fattouch was well seasoned, fresh and crunchy.
  • Goat cheese served in an oval plate with vegetables were good. Two round molds of white cheese, thick and condensed are worth trying.
  • Falafel are good if only they were less salted; I enjoyed their thickness, freshness and crunchiness.
  • Liver bites are marinated in lemon juice are moist and tender.
  • Fatteh; I've definitely had much better in town.
  • The eggplant oil is felt in every bite while the garlic in the hummus numbs all your taste buds.
  • Makanek are good, juicy, lemony and tasty.
  • Cheese rolls are better called sunflower oil rolls; they don't even look appetizing to be tasted. I'm confident they have an oil issue; the potato cubes are soaked in oil. I even spent the rest of lunch with a headache because of their intense garlic smell.
  • Finishing the appetizers, or the selection of mezze, grilled meat platters landed on the table. Every portion contains one single Kafta finger, four pieces of meat, four pieces of chicken tawouk and a handful of tomatoes, corn and sliced potatoes. What is supposed to be a portion for four or six people can only satisfy a 3 year old child. The Kafta is too oily and had too much parsley in it while the meat is tender but not tasty; It felt cheap. Let's say that this plate is too commercial and looks too stingy.
  • The club sandwich is an interesting innovation: Exactly like a normal club, Kahwet Layla's is produced the original way only replacing French bread with Kaak. Three layers of thin and crunchy Kaak are filled with iceberg lettuce, ham, pickles, eggs, tomatoes, a thick slice of grilled chicken and mayonnaise... Lots of it. The only thing I remember is the mayonnaise and eggs that keep an unpleasant aftertaste around. Innovative? maybe. Tasty? I don't think so.
Ok, now imagine of the food above mixed with smoke spells of apples and grapes from shisha. It was a lovely lunch where all the flavors of the food are eliminated by the smell of hooka smoke, indoor, in a closed space: Lovely lunch!
The pluses:
  • Food is freshly produced. You can feel it in every bite
The minuses:
  • Labneh is extremely bad. Not up to the standard of the place
  • What are those ugly black speakers doing here? If you have an event at night, install them at night. We are not obliged to have them in our faces all day long
  • Smoking inside? Why? You have a terrace any smoker can use why kill us and our children inside? You have the chance and privilege of having two separate spaces, why be an outlaw? SHAME!
I will improve: The Service!
  • Service is rough and lacks manners and any form of subtlety and style. I was pushed over many times dodging a knife from here and a plate of fries from there. How much will it cost to make everyone smile? A bit of training on savoir vivre  and the art of serving is needed. I especially love how a waiter approaches the table and shouts out loud:"El Pepsi la Meen?"
The service was average with no respect for the smoking law. This is not something you would expect from a brand like Leila. Even though the food was acceptable but it was not great. Visiting this place again will not be on my to do list anytime soon.





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