Sleek, modern restaurant offering both a traditional and creative approach to Lebanese cuisine.
Lebanese food in Edinburgh's Southside
Reviewed by Irene Brown
Friday, December 9, 2011 - 10:32am
Tucked away in the corner of Nicholson Square, Beirut is a stylish Lebanese restaurant designed with a timber beamed ceiling and plain wooden floors. The embossed walls are a rich decadent red with port hole style windows and holding several striking pieces of modern art. On the opposite wall are photos of sunny Lebanon, giving a good blend of the old and the new. There is some optimistic outside seating.
On a damp November day, it was a pleasant thought to evoke some Mediterranean sunshine and Ahmed the owner certainly gave us a warm welcome. We were given the choice of 1 course for £6.50 allowing the choice of any dish from the main menu, the set lunch menu of 3 courses for £7.95 or the premium lunch menu of 3 courses at £9.95. We chose the set lunch menu and while BYOB is available, we stuck to plain water.
My companion is vegetarian and was pleased to see the non-meat dishes as part of the main menu rather than as an add-on.
Our choice of starters augured well for the rest of the meal as they were pleasing to the eye and tasted good. I chose Bammeih b’zeit which is okra cooked in tomato , onion, olive oil, garlic and coriander and was served warm with the pitta style Lebanese bread that comes free with the starters. Personally, I am not comfortable with warm food. I think it should either be hot or cold. Warm says it’s either not cooked enough or not cooled enough. To my taste, it was the latter as it was essentially the Okra stew that was my companion’s main dish choice. (Saying that, I did enjoy the ‘real food’ taste of this colourful and healthy food.) His starter was Motabal Baba Gharouj which is aubergine puree with sesame seed paste (tahine) lemon juice, and olive oil and was deliciously sharp and fresh.
For mains, the above named okra stew (fully heated!) was served with salad on the plate and vermicelli rice. I chose Shawarma chicken which was roasted thin sliced marinated chicken served with garlic sauce and rice. I’m not sure what was meant by ‘vermicelli rice’ as it looked the same as my ‘rice’.
Our salads were disappointingly made up chopped iceberg lettuce, brightened with the odd bit of red pepper and some sweet corn. Small delicious dishes of garlic, sesame and chilli sauces accompanied the mains. The portions were generous and tasty but my chicken was coarsely cut rather than ‘thin sliced’ and was not very tender and a bit dry. Course three was either two baklawa (the very sweet pastry made with nuts and honey)or tea/coffee. A nicer end to the meal would have been one baklawa with a small peppermint tea rather than one or other.
The overall sleek impression was spoiled by the shabby brown stair carpet that led to the toilets that looked as though it had been brought from some other premises though the toilets themselves were clean and new. This was a reasonable lunch but it lacked the fresh bright zing that I associate with Lebanese food.