Occupying the left side of the "Sofitel Faubourg" lobby, Yannick Alleno's STAY approaches French cuisine with simplicity. STAY is a restaurant that serves fine gastronomy in a casual way. Unfortunately for us, STAY closed its doors in Beirut a long time ago so I was excited to experience what this three star chef has to offer.
STAY is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. A cozy ambiance, warm lights and a dessert bar, that iconic corner the restaurant is known for. A ceiling painted in yellow, golden lanterns suspended from above, a black and white ceiling, mirrors painted with flowers and a set of square tables covered with white cloth and fine sets of cutlery.
STAY by Yannick Alléno provides a distinctive dining experience within a comfortable yet stylish environment. Signature dishes use traditional methods in a contemporary fashion to surprise even the most sophisticated gourmand.
At first glance, the impression I had of the menu was a strange one...Spanish hors d'œuvre, sandwiches and a lunch menu, then comes the garnished main plates, soups and starters on the other side followed by desserts they call "The Pie S". I personally expected better presentation and separate menus for dinner and lunch. Let's eat and see.
Welcomed professionally by a hostess, coats are taken from you while we're shown to our table. Sparkling or still water before choosing the wine. I liked the idea that the waitress is stylishly dressed and attends on you with a smile on her face. She recommends and even goes to the kitchen to double check on the ingredients.
Salted butter and ham butter with a basket of baguettes while we waited to be served.
Wine of the night: Chateau Jean Faure 2009, Saint Emilion grand cru. Rich nose, strong palate, full bodied and complex. Loved it!
- Avocado and Shrimps: Avocado topped with sesame served next to four shrimps in their cocktail sauce mix. The shrimp have flavor provided by the cocktail sauce but the avocado is not ripe enough and lacks some taste. I notice some olive oil which doesn't make any difference. €18 for this is a bit too much.
- Caesar salad: Roma lettuce, Parmesan, bacon, toast and chicken chunks marinated in ranch sauce. Flavorful, salty with spicy notes. Too creamy for my taste, anchovies add the needed flavors with a good quality bacon. But honestly, I was not impressed!
- I have the poultry curry, two bowls, one for rice and another for the sauce where chunks of poultry float. Rice mixed with roasted almonds and the curry, lacking intensity and richness, vegetables and chicken with their skin... a bizarre plate you don't want to order.
- Steak frite... what are steak frites to you? Sliced meat, rich sauce, crispy fries? We receive a chunk of meat that's unpleasantly chewy without the Café de Paris sauce but with onions on top. I'm not sure if the quality of the meat was bad or if it was the cooking. Lines of cartilage, tasteless sauce, nothing I would remember or even recommend. Even the fries are below average.
Let's face it! I'm not sure what's happening to Yannick Alleno! Once one of my favorite chefs has disappointed me three times: a disappointing dinner in Beirut; below average food at Le Terroir Parisien and now Stay Paris! I was expecting more innovative food - up to the standards of a starred chef. I ended up eating rice and sauce, remembering my grandma's food. I left hungry!
But the experience was not over yet. This is when a smile is drawn on my face - when the staff show all their welcoming skills and when the desserts change my mind about the average food I just had... after dinner, I walk to the dessert bar and meet the chef.
Desserts are good! I order molten chocolate cake, passion fruit safran and citron meringué with three scoops of sorbet, and was invited to taste the red fruits tart as well as the Paris-Brest, both of which were accomplished.
- The molten chocolate cake is to die for: smooth and soft with a taste of dark chocolate. Two thumbs up chef.
- Lemon meringue: a hard crunchy tart, lemon cream and meringue on top. A fine cake.
- Pear cake: crunchy, fresh and fruity, lightly sweet... bravo!
- The Sorbets are special: firmer in texture, richer in taste, lighter in sweetness than the average sorbet.
I enjoyed the service, the decor and vibes. I loved the desserts but unfortunately I can't say the same about the other courses...
I'd change the menu presentation, update the choices, add more descriptions to every plate, propose two different menus for lunch and dinner and work on some prices. We paid €75/person for tonight's dinner.