Saturday, May 25, 2013

St Elmos Beirut

Food lover and amateur of fine culinary wonders, I thought that it would only be right to include restaurant reviews along with my recipes on my blog. In addition, I didn’t give much thought about which one I will start with. Many factors contribute to the reputation of a restaurant, therefore, I will be discussing each of them and try to be the most elaborate possible.

St Elmos is a brasserie on the seaside of Zeytuna Bay towards the end, south, what makes of it the ultimate destination for summer.

St Elmos has indoors as well as outdoors seating, as all restaurants on the Zeytuna Bay—we sat outdoors twice, after all we cannot resist to it with an amazing spring weather. What grabbed my attention first in the décor were the sailor aspect details spread all over the wall; indeed, the décor plays a major role in the setting and atmosphere of St Elmos, and this can be seen from the ceiling to the toilet’s fancy design. When I first came in to wash my hands, I realized the sink was a bucket; and I had a laugh I did not know quite well how to flush the toilet—by pulling the rope hanging from the ceiling. Fun, right? I felt like I was in some desert island living in a wooden chalet, Robinson style. But I loved the way they actually lived the theme through the entire place. At a first glance, St Elmos will attract customers regardless of its other advantages or disadvantages.

After settling down, comes the menu. The bright side of the menu is that it is very different from what you can eat in other restaurants in Lebanon. Yet, one thing you must consider is that it only counts salads, Edamame, and a salmon bagel as a healthy alternative to the fried chicken, fish and parmesan topped chips, Mac ‘n cheese, and burgers they offer. On a personal level, this doesn’t bother me much, I pay attention to my health so I allow myself to splurge sometimes.

The first time, my friends and I tried the chicken tenders—which are the best, really, that I have ever ever had—the Edamame topped with salt and lemon zest, the Mac ‘n cheese fried balls, and we had as a platter the fish and chips that came with a bean puree. The chicken tenders crust was so crunchy and the heart was so soft it was just love at first bite. Sadly, it triggered our expectations to go higher for the fish and chips dish. And as it turned out to be, the recipe of the Fish and Chips used a different frying batter than the one used for the tenders—it wasn't crispy. Otherwise, I think it will be less of a waste to replace the bean puree with something else. But I have to say, the fish tasted good.

The second time, which was last Thursday, my friends, Tala and Antoine, and I ordered our now, “usual” chicken tenders and Edamame with the topping (no soy sauce by the way). I ordered the Salmon Bagel that goes under the heading titled burgers, Antoine ordered the shroom’ n swiss burger, and Tala the chicken breast platter (not fried). The salmon bagel included cream cheese, capre, and lemon tranche. It was hard to bite on it because the bagel was toasted and hard, moreover, the cream cheese on the bun would slide the salmon away when you grab it; and the existing whole in the bagel didn't help any better. I couldn’t finish my dish. Tala received a part breast chicken and part legs and this was not flattering to her since she wanted the chicken breasts intentionally. Antoine loved his burger, but I feel like he likes easily, he would eat anything at some point—I hope he doesn’t read this, HAHAHA.

As for the dessert, we tried the “fried Mars”, yes the chocolate Mars, which is dipped in a batter, fried, then served hot with ice cream. We also tried a chocolate chip cookie. But this cookie is not any ordinary cookie: It’s a moist half cooked cookie in a pan that comes with a scoop of vanilla in the middle of it. As for the taste, exquisite might describe it. The cookie just melts in your mouth and what helps is the buttery taste blending with the melted chocolate chips. Surprise, during our second lunch when we ordered the chocolate chip cookie again, the cookie had half-milk-chocolate and half-white-chocolate chips. This might not pose a quandary to some and even me, but, changes or surprises in restaurants don’t show a quality control standard on behalf of the manager—Speaking of which, I never saw him—and therefore this yields to a large margin for defects. I am going to pass on this little surprise, because after all the taste of the food is divine.

Yet, one aspect I am not going to spare at all, is the service—very bad, very slow. Very slow was of no excuse, because when we came both times, the place wasn't crowded much. Their service is not at all efficient. One more surprise? The last time we’ve been there, the waiter got us the wrong check. And for the funny part, it was by far a lower amount in dollars than the one for our real check. Then, my friends and I laughed about paying the low dollar amount and leave the place like thieves—which of course is not “ethical”.

If I shall conclude this, I will say that the place is amazing but the service needs deep improvement. That’s all for the time being.


Tania said...

the food looks yummy!!!!dommmage for the service.

Elsa Abi-Khalil said...

Yeah, exactlyy!!