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Diplomat: My First Visit Was Better...
Opened a few months ago, Diplomat Lounge has taken the location where Julia's used to be. Julia’s was famed for a great homemade burger, pepper and vodka pastas and surely one of the finest pain perdus in town. Today, Diplomat Lounge welcomes you for lunch and dinner in the same location, but with a new and upscaled setup.
"Julia's, hello”, says the manager when you call to reserve. A feeling of confusion takes over. I thought Julia's had closed, until I understood that the restaurant had just changed names and food.
Today, the decoration has changed completely, into a soothing white space full of wood, fabric and old tiles:
- The white, adds a certain sense of style, which blends well with the name, Diplomat, and the CD "Corps Diplomatique" logo.
- Old tiles cover the floor, decorated with silver mosaics.
- Lounge music plays in the background.
- Enter, and be welcomed by wine coolers and a collection of empty Petrus wine bottles. If they were still full, that would be a collection worth thousands of dollars.
- Inside the rectangular space, the bar takes over the right side while a statue in the middle embodies a diplomat, or a man of politics.
- The best table is the one under the statue, an oval table with chairs and a sofa.
- A long bar, filled with bottles, follows the main wall, while a long line of Evian bottles decorate it
- Two televisions to the right of the space broadcast news and four others behind the bar show sports and yet more news channels
- Photos of politicians decorate the walls
- The walls are lit in changing colors, adding a touch of freshness, as they flick between blue, violet and orange
- Beautiful white lanterns light up the interior and are made of fabric that crosses the space from side to side
- The ceiling is made of wood and looks like that of an old log house
- Facing the bar are a few high stools for a quick drink
- The tables are covered with white tablecloths and are decorated with a full set of cutlery, a pepper mill, salt shaker, a water glass and a large balloon-style glass
- Appetizers and salads
- Gourmet burgers
- Plancha dishes
- From the grill
- Sauces and roots
- Not from the grill
The menu is simple, yet very interesting. A choice of burgers, each with a name inspired by diplomats, a large selection of starters while people who don’t want a burger can have something else entirely.
Good to know:
- You can ask for a special order of pizza that's not on the menu
- The pizza sauce contains garlic, so we had ours with ketchup instead
- The famous Julia’s pepper and vodka pasta is also available, but not on the menu
- Dessert burgers? Make sure you’ve got space for them
Dinner started with a basket of bread, fresh crispy and airy bread from the renowned Prunelle: Buns that collapse under the pressure of your fingers, exploding with fresh aromas, before crumbling under your teeth in style. Don't expect to spread butter on them, but just enjoy a great experience.
Let's enjoy dinner:
We started with a selection of appetizers to share, in particular the Julia's pizza. A pizza cooked on a Kaaka Asrouniya, thin like paper and crunchy like a biscuit, topped with pizza ingredients and, in our case, ketchup, since the original tomato sauce contains garlic. The pizza is cut in long slices from side to side, and you can grab them with your hands and enjoy.
Polish sausages follow. Simply cut in slices, with a juicy heart and subtle spiciness, they were so juicy and tender and enjoyed with a mustard side sauce. These aren’t hotdogs but real sausages, full of taste and flavors.
Pasta… Now for the serious stuff. I'm not sure if you've heard of the pepper pasta, one of the finest you can have in Lebanon, a recipe that will have you grinning. The vodka pasta was also exceptional. Today, they only had penne, homemade and mixed with vodka and some cheese. Every bite was full of flavors, from the premium ingredients, the light cream, the rich taste.
The pepper penne, on the other hand, is not for the faint hearted. A cocktail of pepper creating a strong, spicy sauce, a sweetness plays in the background afterward, secret mixes of different ingredients, and here you are eating an amazing creation. I've been having this plate every month and will surely be coming back for it.
More was yet to come. The homemade cheese ravioli comes with a pesto and tomato sauce that you can order on the side since they contain garlic. A plate that exudes the smokiness of the cheese, and the richness of the cream where the pasta, cooked al dente, bathes in style. Bravo, if I may say.
Dinner started in style, and we couldn't but look at each other with an air of satisfaction. We were six, and everyone wanted to try the burgers.
The Diplomat Burgers we ordered:
- The Diplomat burger: Rib eye ground beef, cheddar cheese, caramelized onions, fries.
- The Clinton: Polish sausages, cheddar, mustard, mayo, fries.
- The JFK: Beef, onion rings, cheddar, barbecue sauce, fries.
- The Churchill: Grilled fresh salmon, whole-wheat bun, lemon chunks, capers, arugula, tartar sauce, fries.
- The Napoleon: Beef, Foie Gras, Rossini sauce, caramelized onions, fries.
Allow me to introduce you to some fine burgers. Burgers produced with such a dedication, each offering a fine taste, high-end ingredients and an exquisite finish. The meat is simply perfect, better enjoyed medium or medium rare. Please do not order it well done. Prunelle's famous buns melt under your teeth like butter. The cheddar, a fine cheese, not like the commercial ones out there. Onions, caramelized with love. Not only that, but you can add Foie Gras, grilled to melting point, juicy sausages, full of taste or American onion rings.
The best of all, if I might say, is not a beef burger, but the salmon. The Churchill is exceptional. A fresh piece of salmon is lightly grilled, juicy on the inside, and topped with lemon chunks that explode under your teeth, adding a certain finesse to the whole wheat burger. Enjoyment in a burger, premium flavors light in calories, the perfect combination.
The desserts are not to be missed:
- Pain perdu: Julia’s was one of the first high-end restaurants in town and I’m happy that this little bistro is still serving up the same quality under another name. Le Diplomat has an exceptional, yet simple pain perdu made without sophistication. A square piece of bread, perfectly cooked, well marinated with caramel sauce and with a scoop of vanilla ice cream topping it all. It looks amazing and tastes even better… It’s one of my top 3 Pain Perdu in Lebanon.
- Banana burger: Just imagine. A burger dessert.... A great brioche bun filled with ice cream and bananas flambé in rum. A definite must try.
- Vacherin: A huge sandwich produced of two meringues filled with two scoops of vanilla ice cream and another of strawberry alongside a generous portion of whipped cream and slices of strawberries. Yum... A perfect ice cream, light cream, crunchy meringue... The plate is finger licking good.
The food at Diplomat is excellent.
The great things:
- The staff is professional and well trained... A bit clumsy, but it all adds some ambiance
- The burgers are all a must try
- The fries are awesome! Crunchy and fresh
- The desserts are to die for
- I didn't understand the "lounge" part. A name change or uplift was a great idea but it should be called a restaurant and be proud if it
- Plastic water bottles? Why have all those Evian glass ones on display?
- The lounge music becomes annoying after an hour or so
- Service is not the fastest. I felt like the kitchen is understaffed
- Smoking is allowed inside the closed space... Unfortunately. I hope to eat smoke free on my next visit
I will be returning to The Diplomat Lounge very soon... I am hungry for more…