Traditional places are a must, many of us often visit fancy restaurants but sometimes tourist locations should be visited so one knows what we locals are offering guests to our country. The Rest House Saida is a restaurant almost everyone has heard off or knows...
Down in Saida, Sidon in English, is this tourist restaurant next to the citadel. You should understand that this place is not any conventional restaurant, but an old building with a rich history. Inside are stones reused from an old house in the souk, a landmark brought back to life as an ancient Ottoman Khan, with vaulted ceilings and inlaid marble and stonework. You feel its warmth from the instant your step in. stop to have a look before moving to the terrace where the fun is.
The terrace is breathtaking: Sunny spells, the sound of the waves clapping on the old stones, a view of the sea castle, all while the wind caresses your cheeks in style. The place is enchanting. You are invited to sit around old tables faded by the sun while a bottle of water is served automatically; they use Nestle water.
And then we waited... And waited... Twenty long minutes and no one felt like approaching us for the order. We didn't want to bother the waiters enjoying their chitchats and laughs.
- Cold Mezza
- Fresh raw meat
- Hot Mezza
- Special vegetarian, soya appetizers
- Special vegetarian, soya plate
- Seafood and fish Mezza
- Daily fresh fish
- Hubble bubble
Enough waiting, let's call the waiter for the order. The waiters, friends and acquainted with each other, enjoy their time by talking and shouting loudly, which isn't professional. They joke in front of the customers if they're not standing in the corner telling each other stories. It seems there is no supervisor to guide them. The welcome is even worse, a lady who I wish smiled.
The waiter we had took the order like speedy Gonzales while up-selling discreetly; he's good at what he does.
All the food we ordered was served at once and fast, the kitchen was prepared.
The food is good considering it a restaurant for tourists:
- Other than being oily, extremely oily, the sambousik in pastry dough is crunchy and juicy in the middle. The hummos is very good and equilibrated. The arayess Kafta are tender and flavorful. The mouhammara is better than many I've had in Beirut. The French fries are crunchy and adequately fried. The moutabbal is correct. The fattouch is fresh. The fried calamari are served with fried jalapeños and I love that. The kebbeh balls are generous, I've had better, but they're not bad. Fish followed, half a kilo of Sultan Brahim, fresh as if they had been caught just a few hours earlier and even though oily, like everything around here, they're moist, crunchy on the sides and ready to be enjoyed as is without any sauce.
- The food is good; I've been hearing lots of negative comments about the Rest House and this is why I decided to visit the restaurant; I personally enjoyed my lunch and I believe tose negative feedbacks and wrong preconceptions.
- They use a premium local olive oil I like from Terroirs du Liban.
- The food is fresh, tasty and presented beautifully.
- The prices are reasonable.
- The cutlery setup is rudimentary and the table misses the placemats needed for cleanliness on those outdoor tables.
- The service is like a street sandwicheria, not a Lebanese restaurant.
We were three, with an average cost per person of $30, we enjoyed a nice meal and went back to Beirut with a smile on our faces. All I have to wish for is for this restaurant to have consistency, quality and service to enjoy the same experience on my next visit.