I'm in Algeria this weekend... We took a 20-minute drive from Alger's center to reach the touristic compound of Mazafran. That is where the Safir Hotel is located. A restaurant that is supposed to be one of the best in town... You walk into long lobby, dimmed lit place followed by a corridor to the right which takes you to Bilad E Cham, a restaurant serving Lebanese cuisine, located at the end of the complex. If this is the best restaurant that serves Lebanese cuisine in town... I seriously don't want to even imagine what's worse...
The first impression is not the best:
- The low ceiling makes the place claustrophobic
- Dimmed lighting that's more suitable for a nightclub than a restaurant
- Smoke haunts the place; Make sure to stay in groups not to lose each other inside
- Violet table napkins on square plates
- White table cloths add a glimpse of refinement
- Salt and pepper shakers, placed in the middle of the tables are even dirtier than a kid's clothes after a football game
I'm sorry to inform you that you'll have to bare listening to the scathing shouting of their one man show and his background echoes.
Tonight, and accompanying one of this restaurant's elite customers, I was invited on a tour in the kitchen. I seriously wish I hadn't. I'm sorry for not taking any pictures. It was too disgusting to share. The chef, proud of his cuisine, promised to serve us the best Middle Eastern cuisine produced by mankind.
A culinary experience no Lebanese or Syrian would ever admit to be a part of their culture:
- Tabbouleh needs more flavor. It just tastes simple parsley
- Sambousik are too watery and needs more crunchiness of the dough
- Kebbe is too oily
- Labneh has a fade taste and too lemony like almost everything served tonight. It tastes nothing like the Labneh we know. Maybe they have to find another name for this dish
- Cheese rolls are more of French roulades than the ones served at local restaurants in Lebanon: The puff pastry contains a lot of seasoning and paprika and the cheese inside has a bitter aftertaste
- Hummus is below average, prepared and left in the fridge with the olive oil on top hardened from the cold
- French fries are oily and undercooked. They are so unappetizing
- The meat platter served with sautéed vegetables and a cooked tomato is hard and chewy. It's the kind of meat my dog finds hard to chew
- Meat skewers were served cold even though they were tender
- Rice is over cooked. I thought I was eating a raw concrete mix with green beans
- Lahme Beajine? Lol! They taste like sh..!
In a nutshell, the food is disgusting and unacceptable to be served in any restaurant. I'm ashamed, as a Lebanese, to have such a bad thing representing my fine cuisine the world talks about. The minuses and unacceptable things:
- Food is the worst I have ever tasted in my life. By far the worst
- Plates are stingy and minuscule. Was that a single bite or a plate of Hummus?
- One single beat was playing in the background the whole night long when the singer decided to take a break. It was like putting your head in a drum roll
- Forks are too small to eat with. Those are used for desserts only. Consider changing them
- Service is below mediocre. I won't even call it a service but a bunch of men driving trays from the kitchen to the tables. Nothing I ordered was even delivered
- We had some waiters visit us at the very beginning to serve the food and that was it. I think they had a card game to attend to in the kitchen
- I ordered a Diet Coke which I never received, -It was charged- while the Shisha was delivered 30 minutes after by the head waiter himself, the table was left dirty all night long
- Nobody proposed desserts
- Don't Lebanese restaurants usually offer fruits?
Yes, it is that bad. I still cannot believe my eyes. My palatal buds has not stopped screaming in pain since...
PS: The ambassadors of Syria and Lebanon should take action against this restaurant which claims to actually be serving our countries' cuisine. I felt sorry...