First timers at Lebanese Lounge are taken aback by the ambience that complements its famed “authentic dining experience” and a highly accessible location.
Situated on the less congested but central Hali Road in Gulberg, Lebanese Lounge is an offshoot of La Atrium in the Chen One compound. The lush green foliage gives way to a pathway strewn with crushed dried leaves, wooden benches, pebbles and a waterfall spilling through a wall of stones, creating an image that is a treat for eyes. A sight to behold is the winding flight of stairs surrounded by thick plantation that leads to the actual restaurant.
Winter seems a perfect time to drop by and relish the food in a ‘baithak’ style of sitting, says Asad Sheikh, a known foodie who is here with his family to experience the Lebanese cuisine.
Sheikh thinks the roof top view is breathtaking. “I have lived in the Middle East for almost a decade and my love for Arabic food has grown ever since I moved back.
“Lahore has very little to offer when it comes to authentic Arabic food and to my knowledge only two joints have bona fide Lebanese chefs; this place being one of them,” he adds.
A typical Lahori is not used to the idea of an outdoor seating arrangement but this space brings a refreshing change of scenery in the form of an artistically done premise. The management recently covered a portion of the place for people who dislike the idea of an open-air seating; the rest of the space is dedicated to a number of terraces dotted with casual furniture.
GM Lebanese Lounge Asim Malik says the restaurant was previously called Charcoal Grill but “we felt it was too generic a name.
“We wanted to give a Lebanese feel to the place rather than it being known as just another BBQ joint.”
The menu at a glance seems puzzling so we had to ask the server for some help. The appetisers included ‘Mutabal’, ‘Fattoush’, ‘Tabolah’, ‘Falafel’ and vine leaves that had all the right ingredients and a typical tanginess to it. The accompanying Hummus served as a perfect paste with extra olive oil.
The fresh salad mix, with a dressing of extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, grape vinegar and sumac with fried Lebanese pita bread, had been done to perfection.
The Falafel was made out of ground chickpeas and mixed with fresh herbs and Lebanese spices, fried to crispy brown and served with tahini sauce.
The portion sizes were adequate and we were quite satiated but the wide choice in the main course entrees was too enticing for us to order Kabsa Chicken, a traditional rice dish in which grilled chicken and vegetables are served on aromatic Arabian spicy rice accompanied by garlic tomato gravy.
We also tried the delectable Baba Ghanoush — roasted, mashed eggplants mixed with spring onions, green capsicum, tomatoes, tahini and lemon juice and topped with extra virgin olive oil.
The stuffed whole chicken was a tad dry but the chef’s choice of mutton chops, seasoned with special Lebanese spices was a grilled food lover’s delight.
Though we could not try the donors, soups, shish touk and shwarmas, the price tag that ranged from Rs495-595 per item seemed reasonable enough. The main entrée, however, cost somewhere around Rs1,000-1,295.
We ended our meal by sharing the bite sized baklava — a sweet Turkish delicacy — and had Zaafrani tea to wash it all down.