Have kids? Want to eat out? Try Gruen, reviewed by Anissa Helou for the Financial Times
Restaurant review: Gruen, Beirut
By Anissa Helou
Published: December 12 2009 00:42 Last updated: December 12 2009 00:42
When young children ask to be taken out to eat, they usually want to go to a McDonald’s or somewhere similar. Not so in Beirut, where many of my friends’ children insist on going to one of the city’s grooviest restaurants, Gruen, the brainchild of Nayla Audi (who also owns the wildly popular Oslo ice-creams) and Maria Ousseimi.
The style is Californian but the inspiration Lebanese. I love Audi’s southern Lebanese take on grissini: long, crisp strips of spiced flat bread spread with za’tar – totally addictive; her delicious wraps are made with markouk bread (very large, thin flat bread cooked over a saj, a kind of inverted wok) and toasted with fillings such as scrambled eggs or mushy lentils, rice and caramelised onions (m’jaddarah). I wouldn’t go as far as saying that the pizza at Gruen is as good as you can find in Naples but it is not far off, except for the toppings, which again are Californian-style: speck and artichokes or roasted potatoes and rocket.
As for the desserts, my feeling is that they are the main draw for children, as is the extremely relaxed atmosphere, not to mention the large terrace outside where they can play to their hearts’ content. Apart from the list of 30 odd ice-cream flavours available at the counter, you can also order ice-cream sandwiched between two giant macaroons, the flavour of which changes daily.
A stylish restaurant, Gruen is just as much fun for children as it is for adults, who can combine a family meal with some great people-watching.
Gruen, Gefinor Center, Beirut, tel: +961 (0)1-737 344
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2009.