The details of architecture:
- A grey concrete floor covers the space
- A cube, created by yellow plastic stripes
- A wall to the right and another to left, creating a corridor of light accessing from both opened sides
- An open space to the street and another to the garden
- Soft music plays in the background
- Eight rectangular tables can host up to 32 customers
- Eight pending black lights with a goldfish filling add a fine design touch
- White tables with black borders
- Two long benches from both sides of the space make it look cozier
The menu, printed on a long carton has some interesting sections:
- Breakfast (11 choices)
- Fresh juices (6 choices)
- Main menu
- Starters (10 choices)
- Bar bites (4 choices)
- Soups and salads (7 choices)
- Deli corner (7 choices)
- Pastas (5 choices)
- Thin crust pizzas (5 choices)
- Land (4 choices)
- Sea (3 choices)
- Sin city (7 choices)
- Dessert table (8,000L.L/piece or 20,000L.L for open buffet)
While having lunch, I had the chance to meet Chef Joseph Youssef, Executive Chef of the hotel. Chef Joseph has been in the business since 1997 where he started working exclusively in the restaurant business before moving to the hotels industry. With a rich experience around Europe, Africa and the Middle East, Chef Joseph is back to Lebanon pouring all his interesting know-how in the The Social menu. "I like simplicity, cooked meals and earthy flavors. When spending my time in the kitchen, I don't see myself cooking a piece of meat but would express my feelings and know-how in cooked stew filled with creative and passionate ingredients," expresses Chef Joseph.
Lunch started with a bread basket covered in green fabric, rich and filled to top. A French baguette, toasted slices and mini brown buns all fresh and crispy are served with Bridel butter. Simple light butter knives are placed on a small plate is something I personally appreciated.
The details I enjoyed are many but some:
- Food presentation is really nice and appetizing
- Food boasts a variety of original ingredients which make this restaurant really unique
- Their coasters are fun and quirky, each with a different message like 'smile'
- Their wet wipes are also personalized with a funny message - "Wipe that smile"
- Although not a fan of the new Sohat glass bottles, but The Social is the first to introduce them
- The chef is fun, down to earth and interesting to talk to
We had for lunch:
- Cheese Bitterballen (Fried cheese balls with chili, dates & dill tzatziki) 13,000L.L.: Bitterballen are a savory Dutch meat-based snack, typically containing a mixture of beef or veal, beef broth, butter, flour for thickening, parsley, salt and pepper, resulting in a thick ragout. The ingredients are combined and cooked, then refrigerated for the mixture to firm up. Once firm, the filling is rolled into balls roughly of 4 cm in diameter, then battered in a breadcrumb and egg mixture and deep-fried. Tzatziki is made of strained yogurt mixed with cucumbers, garlic, salt, olive oil, dill or mint or parsley. The Social special signature recipe is made of cheese, with Bechamel sauce base and chili. With a pleasant non oily feel, an enjoyable crunch and tasty spicy aftertaste, these creations newly introduced to Lebanon are a must try...
- Seared beef Carpaccio (Topped with Mizuna lettuce, Pecorino & Lemon oil dressing) 20,000L.L.: Thick carpaccio sliced and soaked in lemon, served with mushrooms and covered with mustard leaves imported from Japan. The strong taste of the Parmesan, soft crunch of the mushroom and a carpaccio that melts like butter are seasoned in lemon juice and olive oil making this mix a fine dining specialty which I totally fell in love with
- 3 Way Ceviche (Salmon, Yellow tail and tuna ceviche 3 ways, served with toasted wild rice bread) 20,000L.L.: Served in a three cavity plate, the Ceviche platter is a composition of Salmon, yellow tail and tuna served with wild rice bread. What a majestic combination! Tasty seasoning and fish slices that melt like butter combined with a unique crunchy wild rice bread I've never seen before in Lebanon. I personally didn't enjoy the yellow tail fish as it's not as soft as the others. You can feel the crunch in its texture. I would replace the yellow tail with another kind of fish or change the provider...
- Fish cakes (Fried Salmon croquette with Korean kimchi) 14,000L.L.: Yumm! A superb combination of sour and spice which melts under your teeth like butter. This is a good one indeed. A fish taste, crunchy on the sides and soft in the middle with no oil aftertaste. Lemony and cabbage chili flavors burst into your mouth after you start chewing. Kimchi is a traditional fermented Korean side dish made of vegetables with a variety of seasonings. It is often described as "spicy" or "sour". In traditional preparation Kimchi was often allowed to ferment underground in jars for months at a time. It is Korea's national dish, and there are hundreds of varieties made with a main vegetable ingredient such as Napa cabbage, radish, scallion, or cucumber.
- A "Social" Burger (Grilled prime Angus 150grs, flavored mayo, lettuce & caramelized onions in a brioche bun) 23,000L.L.: This is a burger to try and definitely write home about. Check below for more details
- Tuna Salad: Fresh and appetizing
The Social Burger: Asking the chef if his burger would win the best Burger in Lebanon title he wisely answered: "We don't have the best burger in town but we believe that we have a pretty good one." Chef, a message from NoGarlicNoOnions: "You can easily win the title!"
- Served on a wood platter, the burger gives you a great first impression. Simple, clear and looking great
- The platter has the burger on one side, a cup of french fries on the other, a small jar of homemade ketchup and some additional grind peppers
- The burger looks nice especially that it's served in a special mix of brioche bun with no sesame seeds
- A brioche that's light and reasonably sweet
- Black Angus beef imported from Australia, grilled as is with no additives, no eggs and no bread crumbs and then lightly seasoned with Worcester sauce
- The inner sauce is a mix of Cafe de Paris and mayonnaise (must, mayo, ketchup, olives, basil...)
- No cheese is added to the burger unless the client asks for it
- Caramelized onions add a unique signature touch
The burger dissected:
- A blend of premium ingredients with their proportionality respected
- Beautiful colors, layered one on top of the other
- An iceberg lettuce, thin tomato, two slices of cheddar cheese accompany the meat
- A premium piece of juicy meat covering the exact surface of the bun
- 150g of meat are enough to make the experience enjoyable
- Caramelized onions add a hint of sweetness and make of it a fine dining burger
- The cooking time is perfect, I got it medium as I asked for
- The Social burger passed the cold test in style. 25 minutes after being delivered, the meat was just as tasty as the first minute, non chewy, non spongy, non synthetic, non salty and pleasant to be devoured as it was the minute it was cooked
- Every bite combines the freshness of all the ingredients and the mix of flavors which makes this burger one of my favorites in Lebanon, entering my TOP10 list for sure
I would fix... to make it perfect: Yes perfect enough to become number one in Lebanon:
- The bun should be thinner, juicier or with more yeast to make it lighter
- Cheese should be homogeneously distributed
- Meat is excellent but needs a hint of seasoning (salt and pepper) to give it the needed flavour
- The one-of-a-kind homemade ketchup should be added to the burger not left aside
The side accompaniments:
- The french fries are the best I've had in a restaurant to date. Thick, hand cut, perfectly seasoned and crunchy like peanuts on the outside and soft on the inside, the long unpeeled potatoes are to die for. Awesome!
- Homemade ketchup... fresh and light, this special sauce is succulent
The Social is indeed a new place that has started on solid and strong grounds. Today's lunch was just great on all fronts and will surely be recommending it to all my friends. I personally wish the owners, the staff, as well as the chef a bright future, hoping that they maintain the same quality of food and service always.