Chitchatting between friends, we decided to go try L'Humeur Du Chef, one of Mar Mikhael's special places. It is considered special since the Chef, Jad El-Hage prepares a uniquely different menu daily live in front of his guests.
L'Humeur Du Chef is a 50m2 restaurant located on one of Mar Mikhael's narrow streets, between L'Oca Matta and Marinella and can only seat 20 guests. A high long concrete table, a working station, two writing boards where the menu and wines are displayed and an iPod dock is all this simple place needs to come to life - as the Chef is expected to be the main attraction of the night.
On the menu board that night:
- Organic Salad
- Mushroom Tart
- Beef with Mint Sauce
- Three Chocolate Brownie
When you hear the word "chef", or you know that a chef will be cooking in front of you, your expectations automatically become high. When the menu is set with no alternatives, your expectations are even higher. I started dreaming... just imagining what journey of color, taste and interaction the chef will be taking us on... I started dreaming of the dishes... How would he be serving the organic salad? Will it be with raspberry couli sauce or maybe some small goat cheese balls? How about the mushroom tart? It would surely be prepared meticulously with fresh mushrooms and mouthwatering mix. And the beef with mint sauce? That was a first for me: A nice and strong mint taste with a tender meat. Brownies? Yum! This is a part I am eagerly waiting to try. Soft, tender, perfectly cut, thick and accompanied with a vanilla ice-cream or a homemade creation.
The wine choices were minimal, so we had to stick to:
ReveBlanc 2011 ChateauKhouryChateauKHOURY 2007, Cuvée st. Therese There is better, and I was expecting tastier... anyway we enjoyed them.
What I liked in this restaurant:
- The soft jazz music.
- High wooden yet relaxing chairs.
- The "No Smoking" policy.
What is taken for granted and not pleasant to have around:
- A simple iPod dock broadcasting the music from a single corner makes it hard to hear each other, especially for the group seated next to it.
- An old ultraviolet fly trap light, instead of having a painting or an LCD screen covering it up.
- Only half of the restaurants lights are lit.
- The kitchen bottles, nylon wrapping and sauces display are a mess.
- One air-conditioning unit is not enough.
- An unprofessional waiter.
As I was expecting high standard from a Chef, the preparations started to get served one after the other:
- The salad is fresh and that's it. Greenery with a strong balsamic sauce. I would have expected something more creative. The salad served shows a person who was searching for an effortless preparation.
- Quiche is not what I was expecting at all. No decoration whatsoever, too watery, too creamy, heavy and the dough is a sweet. This is a dough used for sweet pies and not for salty ones. As for the mushrooms, a can opened and that's it, easy and quick.
- The beef: Here comes the most unacceptable experience of the whole night. I am sorry but I will say it as I felt it: A Bridgestone tire non-chewable piece of low quality meat served with cold mashed potatoes and some white sauce. And by the way, no taste of any mint,
- The dessert: Come On! A simple piece of brownie, no ice-cream, no decoration and on top of that it was burnt black! Really unacceptable.
The whole dinner was an effortless preparation that any untrained person could have prepared and not up to the restaurant's name and standard.
The Service and welcoming:
- Knifes and forks are left on the table between a plate and another to have less dish washing in the kitchen.
- No soft drinks are offered in this restaurant, but honestly didn't understand why they serve beer.
- The waiter throws the plates in front of customers in a hurry, which I didn't understand.
In a single table restaurant, where the owner and chef is cooking, we would have accepted everything if there was some kind of interaction. A discussion with the chef, a smile, a joke, a cooking suggestion... anything to make the night more pleasant and that would have covered up a lot of the mistakes and food quality. When the chef cooks, people like to talk with him and congratulate him on every dish served. It didn't happen here.
None of the guests even said bravo! That means something.
I LOVE THE CONCEPT but not the food. I am sorry for this harsh review, but the experience was unacceptably bad.