Brambles Dubai

Brambles is a bohemian inspired cafe in Barsha Heights Dubai that serves fresh wholesome items in a perfectly dainty atmosphere.

The details are what make the cafe unique, from the green elements adding an environmental touch bringing the outdoors in, to the faded pink that is integrated in the furniture and the tableware.

I am following a diet and eating out is sometimes a challenge, which is why I gravitated towards Brambles because it serves healthy and vegan options. I was very mindful of what I ordered, and decided to balance my food intake between trying new items while being aware of the quantity. The menu is wide and it’s quite a conundrum to decide what to order. That being said, you can’t go wrong with a guilt-free avocado pizza that has a rich vegetable based topping, including delicious cilantro. You can add an egg or chicken if you want a non-vegan option. Make sure to add appetizing salads to your table, a smart way to keep the calorie count low and the tummy full. read more

Andes Dubai

One evening in May I cabbed my way from Sheikh Zayed Road to a building complex dubbed the World Trade Center. As the taxi dropped me off at the entrance of the private area, I walked past restaurants, a mall and a hotel until I reached a magnificent series of buildings lit up in contrast to the dark sky.

Andes is nestled in this Trade Center area, amidst the trees and beautiful modern architecture, and thus I entered.

The space is cozy in size, nothing too imposing that would leave a foodie feeling overpowered, with the exception of high ceilings and impressive decor inspired by what I can only assume is a citizen of the world. This mix of eclectic and quaint describes both the menu items and the ambiance. read more

The Fish House Intercontinental Dubai

Dubai Festival City has been dubbed a self sufficient “city within a city” and includes residential, business and entertainment developments gravitating towards the waterfront. The Intercontinental in Dubai Festival City stands firm facing the water and boasts a spectacular view of the bay as well as the newly opened seafood restaurant, The Fish House.

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Access to the restaurant is from the main lobby as well as from the promenade. I chose to experience the full hustle and bustle of the hotel and upon descending to enter The Fish House, I was led by the decorative bronze fish on the wall down the ramp to reach the indoor seating area. The color scheme is a soothing blue and white, reminiscent of Provincial France with a touch of modernity. The bay windows and doors across the floor welcome light to fill the space as well as make way to the terrace facing the iconic Ferris wheel.

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I had a glance at the menu, and the friendly and knowledgeable waitress explained to me that I can either have their signature dishes or personalize my own fish. I chose the latter and was lead to the display of fresh fish (catch of the day) where I chose mine, with the weight I pleased along with the mode of cooking, sauces and sides.

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As I was seated outside enjoying the calm ambiance, the resident mixologist approached me to discuss my drink options. Soon I realized how skilled he was by analyzing and pairing my drink based on my choice of fish, how fatty or not it was, and its first bite and aftertaste all contributed to his recommendation of the gin based cocktail “The Botanist”. He made sure I had a taste to give him my approval, as well as another visit to check if the fruity yet citrusy drink was a success with my choice of spicy side dishes.

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I opted to forego the appetizers to leave my full appetite to the main course, but I was offered this delicious plate of traditional Baba Ghannouj with fried fish while my order was being prepared.

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I’m a sucker for spices and strong flavors, so both sauces I chose were very spicy, but I experimented with the sides and ordered the harissa and Spring onion potato salad. It is relatively sweet in flavor due to the marination, the eggs compliment it and the onions add a bold crunch to the mix. The result is smooth on the palate.

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The “Salsa” sauce with mango, jalapeno, green onion and tomatillo is an explosion of contrasting flavors. Is it sweet? Is it tangy? Is it spicy? Each bite combines the three and the result is a delicacy whether eaten alone or with the fish.

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The saffron rice with almonds and orange peel is a more sober choice for a side dish, but is nowhere near boring. The very visible orange peel add a twist to the familiar fish pairing, and due to its subdued nature, it goes very well with the sauces I chose.

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The “Harra” sauce with tomato, coriander and peppers is an obvious choice for my spicy food preference, and is more consistent in its chili than the sauce with the mango, the latter being an explosion of flavors, thus rendering the former a key ingredient to the fish experience.

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Hammour fish grilled to perfection, crispy on the outside and oh so tender. Never have I tasted a fish so skillfully prepared and juicy, I was at a complete loss as to whether I should eat it alone or with the side dishes. In fact I did both in rotation, I kid you not. One bite solo, one with each of the sides, that’s how delicious this expert dish was.

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As much of a sweet tooth I have, I was unable to fathom having any extra bite to eat, yet I was kindly offered this Caramelized Pineapple Ravioli, a specialty of the restaurant. I couldn’t refuse and I’m glad I didn’t, because the sweet pineapple and caramel was just what I needed after a hefty meal full of rich herbs and flavors.

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The Fish House is without a doubt redefining the entire seafood experience as we know it. Long gone are the days of simple and straightforward fish based meals, be prepared for a feast for the senses, indulge in their signature dishes or customize your own according to your liking. I can say with confidence, that I have never had a meal that centered around fish that was this perfected, from the stunning decor, the welcoming staff, the adept mixologist, the chef, the breathtaking view and laid back ambiance.

The Fish House Intercontinental Dubai Festival City is now on my must visit list each time I go to Dubai, and I wholeheartedly recommend you do not miss out. You can thank me later!

Visit the website for more information: The Fish House Dubai

Contact: +971 (04) 701 1127      thefishhouse.dubai@ihg.com

Instagram @thefishhousedubai

Facebook @thefishhousedubai

 

 

 

 

Foodie In Barcelona

I haven’t stopped raving about Barcelona since I visited last autumn, and one of the things I cannot neglect to add on the list of its charm is the food. Both visually enticing and tasty, this Catalan city’s cuisine is top notch. Our culinary journey wasn’t premeditated, we literally sat down for a meal at the first place we saw when hunger was striking which is a rule of ours when we travel. In front of each restaurant like most cities these days, lies a board with the menu, specials, happy hour discounts and lunch offers. Read on and feast your eyes upon the food in Barcelona!

An example of the lunch set menu at Rossini in Placa Reial is the following, with a main dish, dessert and a drink, with outdoor seating that is great for people watching and relaxing along the courtyard with a magnificent view of the fountain and palm trees. We visited this joint twice, the second time being at night where we sat indoors in a cozy and romantic atmosphere complete with live piano music.

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You can find a decent breakfast at every corner, the pastries and sandwiches are all displayed at the counter of almost all bakeries, so you choose based on eye candy and you’re good to go or dine in.

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Generic kiosks are located every few meters along the walk leading to Barceloneta beach, offering a selection of beach worthy snacks.

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You may come across a couple of restaurants like I-Tapa that offer a buffet with tapas and main dishes including seafood, these places make for a great dinner while sipping on cocktails.

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For burger lovers, try Bacoa. I particularly loved this place’s branding, from the simple way of ordering at the door to the table accessories to the decor.

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If you are planning a trip to Tibidabo, there is no shame in taking a few snacks of your own, because the reviews I read beforehand were accurate, the choices are limited, expensive and taste awful. I made the mistake of ignoring that advice, and this is exhibit A, the first pizza slice of my entire life which was left uneaten. The ice cream on the other hand was yummy because, well, Ben & Jerry’s.

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Schilling is a cafe bar in the Gothic Quarter and the food was heavenly and not so shabby portioned as you would expect at a night spot.

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La Turuleca is a Peruvian restaurant with decent food, friendly staff and very original identity and decor.

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At all costs you must not miss sitting at one of the many cafes on the Ramblas street and trying their signature drinks of either Mojito or Sangria in a ginormous format. Trust me this photo was a struggle to shoot, you need both hands to lift the glass!

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The frozen yogurt stand at Maremagnum mall is an excuse for a mini snack, I had the raspberry yogurt!

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This is our second visit to Rossini where we tried their pizza, also a great choice.

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Another breakfast choice is Forns Del Pi.

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We wanted to try more tapas so we went to Cerveceria Catalana, it is much pricier than other similar restaurants since they charge by the piece, and you need like 50 to feel a bit full, but it is an experience nonetheless to try these small hand crafted appetizers.

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La Boqueria is a must visit as it is Barcelona’s thriving market. Roam around while you snack on fruits, chocolates, nuts, and juices, and watch the locals buy their daily needs of meat and fish.

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No European stop is complete without Amorino’s rose, enjoy it while walking in the Gothic Quarter, it is photogenic against the architectural backdrop, don’t you think?

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For similar food inspired travel posts, click on the links below!

 

Foodie In Paris

Foodie In The U.S.A.

 

 

Restaurant Review: La Petite Table

La Petite Table is a recently opened cafe/restaurant in Gardens Naccache serving international cuisine. The decor is beautiful and the color scheme is reminiscent of the French Provincial interiors. It has both indoor and outdoor seating, shall you choose to stay inside it is a cozy and romantic area, but if you’re up to people watching then go ahead and sit on the terrace.

For our first visit we chose items from various menu sections to get to sample a bit of everything. We started with the Four Cheese Pizzette for 12,000 L.L. which is a thin crispy pizza dough with tomato sauce, mozzarella, fontina, parmesan and gorgonzola. It is very tasty but quite small and not made to share, so make sure to order it as an appetizer and not a main course.

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Artichoke and Pancetta Pizzette for 14,000 L.L. is another small pizza that differs from the Four Cheese in its artichoke, bacon and mozzarella cheese combination.

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Another tasty appetizer is the crunchy Goat Cheese Pie for 17,000 L.L. which is a thin puff pastry with goat cheese, honey, balsamic, pink pepper and basil served with a side salad.

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The Salad Bar is for 28,000 L.L. a price that isn’t low but compared to other restaurants of the same calibre seems reasonable. It has a variety of fresh ingredients that are visually enticing but I would love to see additional sauces served such as pesto or sweet and sour to spice things up because I felt that whatever combo I tried lacked pizzazz.

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The Beef And Truffle Burger for 28,000 L.L. with angus beef, onions, rocca and cheddar cheese with fries on the side was a true specialty but also a bit small.

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Tuna Gribiche is a twist to your regular tuna sandwich for 18,000 L.L. with eggs, tomatoes and lettuce served with optional fries for an extra 4,000 L.L.

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Chocolate Tart for 11,000 L.L. is a decadent dessert for chocolate lovers.

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Specialty of the night recommended by our waiter.

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Molten Chocolate Cake for 11,500 L.L. was the meal’s finale.

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Final verdict: I did enjoy my night at La Petite Table, and I would go again perhaps to try their famous breakfast. Their lunch and dinner items are tasty but they all seem to have the same issue, portion size.

 

Foodie In Paris

A few months back I shared with you my Parisian vacation, which was my first experience of traveling while pregnant. I abstained from including my foodie stops, because a couple of photos won’t do Paris justice, so I prepared a full fledged entry of mouthwatering eye candy for anyone who is planning to visit the city of lights.

La Cure Gourmande is a sweets shop with vintage inspired packaging where you can either buy a pre-packed selection of pastries or choose and weigh your own combo using the available plastic bags. The pastries are so puffy and light, and the display is very enticing, you can’t help but surrender your senses. Beware the total cost though, as each item weighs quite a few grams so it totals up to be equivalent to a decent meal for two.

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La Marmite is a great stop during the day while walking in Montmartre for a cup of hot chocolate and some people watching, the whole experience felt like a scene from a movie.

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Strolling in the streets of Paris, it was great to some Lebanese restaurants, but what I can’t understand is how are the prices lower than their country of origin?

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Le Malakoff is an excellent restaurant in Trocadero, with prompt service, friendly staff and delicious tasting food (the onion soup was heavenly) of generous portions. Parisian restaurants offer water on the house, a hospitality gesture our local restaurants should start embracing instead of forcefully opening an overpriced bottle of water at all their tables.

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Angelina was worth the long queue at Rue Rivoli, the interior decoration was very impressive, with gilded furniture and fine detailing. You must order the hot chocolate, it is an experience in itself.

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We walked so far and long to reach Berthillon for ice cream, and while it is tasty, it is not as rich and deep as expected.

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Restaurant De Flammekueche in Montparnasse is an original Alsatian-Mosellan and German flaming pie of thin crust, cheese and bacon. You get to choose the formula that suits you and get soup, salad, and all you can eat pie of various flavors. Its definitely something to try and tastes nothing like pizza.

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After a whole day at Versailles castle and a long promenade in the garden, we arrived at La Flottille at the end of the premises. It was like an oasis for us because we were tired and famished. We ordered pizza, and although it was a bit on the small side, it had a thick layer of cheese and a homemade tomato sauce that definitely made it on the best all time pizza list.

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Iolanda at Quai Branly was good for a hefty dinner but the service was horrible. Why exactly? Because when I ordered the chicken off the menu, they charged me way extra because apparently they served me the chicken breast and not the drumsticks, knowing that nowhere in the menu does it state anything remotely ridiculous. The waiter refused to acknowledge his mistake and even the manager was disrespectful. Needless to say I didn’t leave a cent as a tip, and I gave them a piece of my mind on Trip Advisor.

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Pain Pain was the ultimate authentic French bakery experience and we stumbled upon it while walking. The aroma will drive you inside as you choose from the extensive pastries and bread for breakfast on the go.

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I booked a table for my husband’s birthday at 58 Tour Eiffel, since I had known forever that he had ‘Dining In The Eiffel Tower’ on his bucket list. His expression says it all! The view was spectacular, the experience unique, and the food excellent.

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Bistro De L’Arche at La Defense’s business district was a more low key and quiet space, which was refreshing for a change.

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I had planned an entire day for shopping at La Vallee Village (which didn’t turn out to be as I expected) and out of all the super crowded restaurants in the adjoining mall, we chose Ristorante Del Arte for some pizza. The vibes and tastes are reminiscent of our very own Napoletana Pizzeria.

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Ben & Jerry’s is a must stop even if you’re full after a meal.

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I came across this slush shop and tried one, but I wouldn’t recommend it at all, it is too sugary and resembles juice instead of having crushed ice.

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George V at the Champs Elysees had a friendly staff and offers a Parisian experience with the small round tables and late night service.

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Cafe Montparnasse had an intimate setting and a filling onion soup; the risotto however lacked in taste.

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On my way to Centre Pompidou, I randomly found Le Comptoir De Mathilde. Leave it for the Parisians to entice you with their artisanal chocolates!

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Vesuvio at Champs Elysees is great for those who want to chill in the breeze while watching people walking up and down. The food is good and the place is always full.

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Le Ciel De Paris is a gastronomic experience in its own, with a fantastic view of the Eiffel Tower. Due to the fact that I was pregnant and literally could not have a single item from the Michelin star chef’s set menu, we opted for desserts to experience French fine dining.

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Le Vrai Paris in Abbesses was one of our favorites because it was far away from the tourists and crowds, and more of a local hangout. The owner of the restaurant was welcoming his regular guests along with the new, and the people were laid back, we even got to chatting with many of the groups next to us. If you ever choose to go there, make sure to try the Croque Monsieur.

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While walking I passed by a local farmer’s market, selling everything from groceries to seafood. If you like street fairs then you’re in luck if you happen to find some stands buzzing with energetic buyers and sellers.

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I had passed Pizza Pino on the Champs Elysees a few times, but only got to try it Montparnasse, which I am thankful for, because again it is a local joint, with families and elderly couples coming in for lunch. I also recommend it for its tasty dishes and good service.

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Le Saint Jean in Montmartre is another local hangout, head there to experience a mellow evening of chitchat and bites.

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Amorino is an indulgence and needs no introduction!

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There were a few more places we tried for our meals, and literally everywhere we walked whether at the Champs Elysees or Montmartre, there was a wide array of bakeries, cafes, pubs and restaurants to choose from. If you happen to be a fan of fries, try De Clercq ‘Les Rois De La Frite’ which is merely a 5 minute stop at a local fries specialty shop. I wish you a happy culinary journey if you’re ever in Paris, you’d be surprised by the generosity of the portions and the friendliness of the French staff.

 

 

Restaurant Review: Madame Tussaud’s

Nestled in the heart of the Byblos old souk lays Madame Tussaud’s, a luxurious restaurant serving international fusion cuisine which is taking the area by storm. U Management who is behind Ubernation and Barracuda have recently opened Madame Tussaud’s along with Gosh pub.

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The latter two lie adjacent in the souk, and while the signature drinks for both joints are served from Gosh, the dishes are from Mme Tussaud’s. I sat down with one of the partners as he explained to me the concept of the restaurant, its attempt to introduce restaurant goers to this type of cuisine, the meticulous choice of cutlery to complement the presentation, along with the menu developed by their top chef. Mme Tussaud’s is a new type of diner with chic decor that offers original and tasty cuisine with prices that won’t break the bank.

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I went on a Tuesday which was a no-brainer for me because there was a band playing for its audience both at Mme. Tussaud’s and Gosh. The band was Moving Buds and their sound was not typical at all, playing classic rock tunes from the 60s and 70s among other genres. On this particular midweek night, these two partnered locales were the only ones vibrant with life, and the place was filled with people young and old alike.

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The little elements of nature give life to the clear cut white tables and add some romance. The signature cocktails also have their share of green and are served in tiki inspired glasses. We ordered the Jasmin that contained coconut rum, spiced rum, passion fruit, cherry and apricot brandy, syrup, orange and cranberry juice. That was my drink and it is to die for especially if you prefer sweet drinks. If your taste buds are satisfied with sour drinks, try the Plume with white rum, dark rum, grand marnier, orange, grenadine and lemon juice with cinnamon, syrup and passion fruit.

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The Spinach and Artichoke Dip is an appetizer that is served with both white and brown bread and is a mixture of spinach and artichoke with creamy sauce. The cream is subtle and doesn’t overshadow the taste of the veggies, and the dish is meant to be shared and can even be split into three ways because of the generous and filling portion.

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I only recently started developing a taste for goat cheese, and I didn’t hesitate to order the Goat and Ricotta Cheese Salad. It is the perfect balance of sweet and sour with rocca, strawberries, apple, cherry tomato, balsamic sauce, cheesy bread and raspberry dressing. A strange yet delicious combination, I highly recommend you try this salad.

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The Jamaican Chicken is marinated grilled chicken with creamy coconut and mango chutney sauce served with rice. I am usually attracted to menu items that have mango, but more times than not I am disappointed when I find that the mango is nonexistent. This case is the complete opposite, where the chicken bathed on the creamy mango, I was literally drinking spoonfuls of the sauce.

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A staple in any dinner is the Beef Medallion, served with creamy mashed potatoes, filled artichoke, melted cheese and gravy sauce. I ordered the steak medium well to avoid overcooking, and enjoyed each bite with the sauce and potatoes.

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No meal is complete without dessert, so I chose the Blueberry Fondant which is also generous enough to be shared as are all their dishes. I had to exercise the utmost willpower to only have a few bites and not devour it all, and the chocolate is heavenly when combined with the tangy berries and vanilla ice cream.

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Final verdict: Madame Tussaud’s is a must try new concept with creative and delicious dishes. The portions are large, the food is fresh, and the cuisine is original. The prices are average, and if you want to compare them to other similar types of restaurants, you get much more than what you pay for. If you want to venture into new culinary journeys, then this is the place to start, you won’t be disappointed and you’re guaranteed to be coming back for more.

Book your tables on 71/500505 and follow Mme Tussaud’s on Instagram and Facebook @mmetussauds.

Restaurant Review: East Village

I’m quite late to the Badaro game, so for my initiation to the area last Saturday night, I chose East Village. I had been hearing good reviews about the place and I wanted to try it because of the reference to my soft spot, New York City. We took a walk in the area and as we approached it we noticed a humble exterior with a busy interior. Three energetic men who are most likely partners or managers, along with two waitresses, gave off vibes that were a mix of hard work, attention and friendliness. All throughout the night as people walked in, it seemed to me that they were regulars by the way they greeted and were greeted, which of course is a good sign because a return customer is a plus to any establishment.

The table setup was simple and not fussy, the table itself being big enough for drinks or dinner without the extra forks and knives. The menu isn’t too extensive but contains a decent variety of salads, starters, meats, sides and desserts, with some specialty cocktails. Being on a diet, I had consulted with my dietitian to regulate my meal plan for the day so I would be able to enjoy my dinner.

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I ordered the Bourbon Pepper Steak without giving it second thought, because, bourbon. I’m a big steak fan so I’m confident when saying that this is way up on the list of best steaks in Lebanon, and because the taste of the pepper is strong and addictive, I actually requested a spoon so I could finish the sauce off. I ordered the mushroom side dish but unfortunately they were out, and since I couldn’t have any carbs for the night, I had the steak as it is.

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Naji is also a steak man, but he is equally a burger enthusiast and ordered the staple US Angus Burger medium well with a side of fries. It also ranked high on his list, the tenderness of the meat and the aged cheddar gave it that extra boost to a gourmet burger.

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I wanted a sweet drink because sour is never my thing, so one of the three young men I had mentioned recommended I try the Passion Mai Tai. It was good indeed, and a change from the classic whisky or wine option with my dinner. The tall glass it was served in was really cool, I have a similar souvenir from Maui, a hand carved wooden tribal item, so I enjoyed looking at my drink as much as savoring the passion fruit taste.

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A Moscow Mule for Naji which was equally original in its presentation. Don’t be fooled by all the ice, there was no stinginess when it came to the actual drink.

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The grand finale was a no brainer, the NY Cheesecake with salted caramel in a small cup to pour over and devour. I was allowed to eat half, and I enjoyed every decadent bit. This is a must try for cheesecake lovers, typical New York style!

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I enjoyed my night at East Village, from the Manhattan inspired decor to the friendly staff and good food. This hotspot is ideal for couples and groups for drinks or a full fledged dinner. If you have visited this restaurant before, I’m sure you know what I’m raving about, and if you haven’t, add it to your must-try places to dine!

Lebanese Fine Dining At Bou Melhem

If you think that Lebanese restaurants are stuck in a rut, then you definitely haven’t tried Bou Melhem, which gives the industry a run for their money. Never have I witnessed such service, from the speed of the dishes being placed on the table, to the attentiveness of the waiters and the friendliness of the staff. The food ranged from traditional hommos and tabboule to an updated ‘raheb’ salad, their signature ‘mouhammara’, smoked hommos and goat cheese salad with dried figs to name a few. I especially loved the cheese with jam, and the chicken with pesto sauce. The generously portioned grilled meat platter included chicken, kabab, kafta, meat and ribs. The desserts will satisfy your sweet tooth, my favorite is the decadent chocolate crepe with sorbet ice cream. The presentation of the items wasn’t typical, but offered in all white rectangular and circular plates which made all the difference and instantly gave Bou Melhem an upscale feel. Every dish served was exquisite, both visually and in terms of taste. The one man show and parade made sure there was never a dull moment during the evening, and the party went on until way past midnight.

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Bou Melhem is located in Sin El Fil across the municipality on Dimitri El Hayek street. Check out their Instagram page @boumelhemrstrnt and call on +9611497667 to reserve, make sure to ask for their live entertainment schedule to plan your evening!

Summer Nights At Amethyste Phoenicia Lounge

When one thinks of the staple Beiruti hotel, Phoenicia is the first name that comes to mind. This low key spot is an integral part of the city and hides a little gem that goes by the name of Amethyste. This lounge combines the renowned cuisine of Phoenicia’s top chefs with a chill pool side ambiance that results in a night of delectable food without the chaotic crowds found in other local spots.

This summer, I attended two specialty nights; one was the Sohour during Ramadan, with a large buffet of mouthwatering international dishes and a dessert table so decadent I couldn’t resist sampling most of what was offered.

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The second and ongoing specialty night is ‘Rib Tuesday’ which is an open and live grilling session of lamb, pork and beef ribs, along with chicken breasts. To complement the ribs, there is a DIY chicken cesar salad table where the chef will be more than happy to assist you in mixing your own choice of ingredients to form the salad you want. Another variety of salads is available along with sides to go with the meat, from potato to nachos to garlic bread. Make sure to specify the sauce you would like the ribs to be glazed with, and shall you choose for them to be basic, you can add the flavor you want from the buffet bar. Don’t leave without trying the passion fruit margarita and both the apple and mango pies with a side of vanilla ice cream, you will thank me later!

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