Top Tip: Le Chef
In a sea of glitz, glamour and overpriced establishments, this little gem is a breath of Fresh air. Le Chef is a long standing fixture in Beirut’s Gemmayzeh neighborhood. Well before the area was inundated with hip bars and trendy restaurants, Le Chef was serving up traditional Lebanese dishes in its cosy dining room.
The word “WELCOME” is painted in bold red font on the back wall of the restaurant and as soon as you enter, that is the greeting you will hear from the friendly proprietor. “Welcome, to Lebanon” seems to be his favorite phrase – he must have uttered it 10 times to us over the course of our meal.
But I did actually feel quite comfortable in the casual establishment. Although the area is known for nightlife and popular among foreign visitors, the clientele at Le Chef seemed to be mostly locals enjoying a bowl of soup and chatting with the staff.
The food is traditional and tasty, the service is incredibly friendly, and the prices are low. There are daily specials as well as classic dishes on the menu, and the staff is happy to explain everything in English.
The roasted cauliflower and stuffed swiss chard were fantastic, and the foul was warm and hearty, seasoned perfectly with fragrant garlic. I also loved the rice pudding flavored with rose syrup.
There isn’t a website but you can’t miss the place if you walk down Gouraurd Street – the main drag in Gemmayzeh. Open Monday – Saturday from 7 am – midnight.