Babel Bay: superb tradition in Beirut

A scenic place where you can explore the rich and varied Lebanese cuisine and its typical meze

09-09-2019
The spectacular setting at Babel Bay in Beirut,

The spectacular setting at Babel Bay in Beirut, Lebanon. The group has two more branches in Lebanon, plus one in Kuwait and one in Dubai (photo sobeirut.com)

Beirut is an incredible place. All of Lebanon is. Incredible, in this case, refers to both its beauty, but also to its most literal meaning: it’s difficult to believe. Indeed, when you think that for the last 50 years in its history, the country has been through a civil war, times of terrorism, numerous conflicts with neighbouring countries, political and economic crisis. Beirut is the nerve centre of the country, as well as the perfect example to understand the many contrasts that feature this place.

A potpourri of cultures that results in a blast of flavours. There are restaurants, cafés and food stands everywhere, offering moments of pure deliciousness. Having been a crossroads of people for thousands of years, Lebanon can boast and incredibly varied cuisine, even more so if we think about the size of the country which is twice that of Tuscany – it’s worth to point out.

The first stop in this trip around Lebanon starts from the sea, just like the Phoenicians did a few thousands of years ago. More precisely, from the heart of Zaytuna Bay, the new marina of Beirut, on the edge of the most brazenly rich area of the city. Here, on the promenade overlooking the yacht moored between restaurant chains and pointlessly pretentious restaurants, Babel Bay stands out. First of all, because of its location: tables outside, a beautiful view and the skyline of the city portrayed on the walls inside, and symbolically placed on seven layers of sandstone, the same number of times that the city suffered during its history. Secondly, the restaurant is surely worth visiting because of its cuisine: authentic, but with that extra touch of novelty.

An example of cold meze 

An example of cold meze 

Hot meze 

Hot meze 

Tradition is well represented by the classic Lebanese meze: small hot or cold entrées to be shared. Abroad, hummus and tabbouleh are the most commonly found, and corrupted, but there are many more that deserve more than a taste, and an article. The menu then focuses on seafood, offering guests the chance to try tasteful and skilful new takes on classics. Before ordering the table is filled anyway, in typical Lebanese style, with nuts, olives, pumpkin seeds and preserved seaweed. Among the main courses you can try some classics: grilled, fried or baked fish, all with a side dish.

But there are also some delicacies that you shouldn’t miss if you want to try something more adventurous: baklawa bahri, that is to say the savoury version of the pastry cake that represents all of Middle Eastern cuisine, a crispy treasure chest with a soft heart of fish. Fattet, the typical poor breakfast made of labneh (a very creamy cheese made with dripped yogurt) with chickpeas, aubergines, fried pita and pine nuts, which in this case is presented with prawns too. Fish and yogurt?! Try and see. Batrakh, that is to say the local bottarga with oil and garlic, bizri (fried baby fish), borma bahri, a dough made with bulgur on the outside, filled with octopus and pistachios and then fried: the outside turns into a sort of natural steam oven which makes both the octopus and pistachio stand out.

Endless contrasts, dominated by a winning dualism of crispy and creamy. After the savoury session, the table is once again filled with colour, with bowls of fresh and candied fruit, and the Lebanese version of candied sugar, made with cinnamon apple. Excellent seafood, excellent service, prices in line with the city’s average. Among the restaurants that (re)interpret tradition with judgement you really could not find anything better. This, however, is only a first leg of the trip. I will share some more tasty notes to give you a complete idea, though from a distance, of this marvellous country.

Fish is the protagonist 

Fish is the protagonist 

Yachts on the horizon

Yachts on the horizon

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso

Babel Bay Beirut
Wafic Sinno Avenue, Zaitunay Bay, Raouche
Beirut, Lebanon
+9611370846
​Always open, from 10 am to midnight 


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