CHECK OTHER REVIEWS FOR THIS PLACE:
You've been reading my reviews about La Cour Saint Michel, an idea I have found to be extraordinary on so many levels. One of today's hot spots, houses a bakery, three restaurants and a great ambiance all combined around a middle court in the heart of soho'esque Mar Mikhael. With a variety of cuisines and choices - the different proprietors, each with a unique vision, have succeeded in creating an escape in the heart of the city.
After trying Tartine Bakery and Bar Tartine, it was time to check out SUD (South in English), a restaurant that blends together dishes from Spain, Italy and the South of France in an idyllic setting. As you walk up the stairs into the courtyard, look to your left. That’s where SUD stands. Look closer and you will notice a gentleman walking around the busy tables asking if everything is fine… His name is Chawki Yazbeck, owner and manager of SUD, a generous and humble character with a plan to give “lungs” to Beirut, through the creation of a fresh, innovative open space... SUD certainly achieves this...
A beautiful yet simple architecture I fell in love with:
- SUD boasts three seating area, indoors, outdoors and an upstairs terrace
- Outside is a wide terrace filled with marble tables, metallic and wood chairs covered in beige and blue fabrics
- Timeless design, a unique one, which appeals to people of different ages
- The lower level houses SUD’s kitchen and is home to the restaurant and bar element
- With an open show kitchen, guests can watch the chef and his team at work, as they create a collection of European dishes
- Inside, one big space with a bar on the left and the seating area on the right
- A feel of wood and black steel metal decorates the interior
- 10 brown wood tables on a black metallic structure
- Facing the entrance are two long wine coolers behind eight pending light bulbs
- On one wall is a big black and white picture of a World War II plane
- Other black and white photos decorate the walls as well as pending metallic lamps
- The bar is beautiful and clear: a simple steel fence bar revealing the background of natural stone
- The floor is covered with old Lebanese tiles
- Separating the restrooms door from the restaurant is a library of design and photography books, including B. Lebanon
- Chair boast a variety of colors are different from the ones outside: light blue, light grey while some come in yellow patterns
- Three pending black lanterns light the table underneath
Enjoying a free fast Internet connection and listening to classical jazz tunes, I enjoyed reading the rich menu printed on thick carton:
- Pâtes et risotto
- À la plancha
- Le Four
Lunch started with a covered basket of crunchy warm French bread accompanied with a three compartment plate which includes labneh, olive oil and green olives. I personally didn't like the idea of labneh at SUD or the labneh quality used. How about some goat cheese mixed with goat labneh sculpted in balls, mixing the flavors of Lebanon and south France? That way you will be creating a new and innovative tasty idea and sticking to the spirit of the place...
We ordered quite a few items to have a complete idea of the food:
- Brusquettes Aubergine Olive: Eggplant caviar and black olive salad bruschetta, pomegranate molasses
- Salade de Calamars Grill?s: Farmhouse calamari, artichoke hearts, porcin, mushrooms, chickpeas, spring onions, tomato confit, black olives, lemon-oil dressing
- Paella Façon Risotto: Risotto style paella, mussels, grouper, calamari, shrimps
- Bar en Croute de Sel: salt-crusted whole sea bass, spinach, sauce vierge
- La Rioja Pizza: chorizo, ricotta, black olives, basil, tomato confit
- The pizza looks nice and appetizing as it land on the table. Before even tasting it, it looks and smells great. Covered with cut black olives, chorizo, green slices of basil and a strong taste of dried tomatoes. The huge difference is created by the pronounced flavors of cheese. The dough is good. For a French restaurant, the Pizza is even better than many pizzerias around town: Bravo.
- The pieces of brusquetta are awesome! Five simple pieces on a rectangular plate. A toasted slice of bread, soft and tender eggplant, smooth black olives and a sweetness aftertaste that makes all the difference. This is a piece of art. Bravo chef.
- The calamari salad is as good as everything else I tasted so far: Each and every ingredient adds the needed flavor to this premium mix. Sweetness, softness, crunchiness, lemon, sour... Just focus on each and every ingredient that will activate a love feeling inside you. I was a bit disappointed though as there were only four little tiny pieces of Calamari, in this generous salad? Let's name it: "Mediterranean Artichoke Salad"
- The salted fish is not a plate worth ordering: even before starting, it smells bad, like frozen fish found at busy fish markets. The bread and salt covering it is too thick keeping close to nothing to eat inside. How do you expect a customer to cut into this hard envelop with a fish knife? The sauce that comes with it is normal and the spinach close to tasteless: not my favorite plate to say the least
- The risotto is a plate I recommend. It’s just great and inovative. Adequately cooked rice with a mix of generous seafood ingredients that come in every bite. Every time you plunge your fork into the dish, you will enjoy aldente rice, rich saffron flavor and crunchy fresh seafood mixed with pieces of cooked vegetables like zucchini and mushrooms to name a couple. Chorizo is added here even though it is not written on the menu…
It’s dessert time:
We ordered the Pain Perdu Caramélisé: Caramelized French toast served with vanilla ice cream
- SUD's Pain Perdu is a NO! Too sweet, Too creamy, Too cold, Too chewy
- The outer crust is unpleasant
- The sauce around it is too heavy and creamy
- The middle ice ball cools down the mix that shod be warm/hot
The details I loved
- Green and grey Peugeot salt and pepper mills decorate all the tables
- The place mats are simple and classy
- The water glasses come in several colors adding joy to the tables
- The plates decoration is simple yet innovative
I would definitely change:
- Remove the salted fish from the menu
- Change the labneh starter and add something which expresses the South of Europe
- The calamari salad needs more calamari or maybe call it something else
- We need table napkins! It is really unpleasant to use dozens of paper napkins throughout the meal
- Service can be better: Waiters are welcoming but something is off. Homogeneity? Synchronized movements? They should be more self-reserved? I don't know...
- Three waiters are required inside, not just one, and each should have his own section to meticulously attend to
NB: Just wanted to mention a token of appreciation to SUD as they did not charge me for the Pain Perdu after I mentioned to the waiter that I didn't like it. A gesture well appreciated. Thank you.
I simply loved the place, and everything that is in it. I would like to personally give a round of applause to the chef, Georges Yaacoub who, in my opinion has a bright future. SUD, that is always packed and with an acceptable average check of $40 per person is a restaurant each and every one should try. I'll be coming back at night for sure.