I never thought that any restaurant existed in a forgotten spot up the road to Fatqa. And I never imagined that I'd be having a delicious Lebanese meal in a majestic setup, surrounded by green trees offering a breathtaking view of the Halat, Okaybe, Nahr Ibrahim waterfront all the way to Jbeil.
Her name is Arze - the famous Arze who has made it on all the television channels in Lebanon - a funny character spreading happiness and drawing a smile on people faces. She's not only a television presenter but a restaurant owner and a fine chef, here in her traditional restaurant in Fatqa (a small village on the hills of Adma).
Welcome home! A Lebanese home with the doors and windows wide open, soothing and minimalistic, decorated with pictures and items from the last couple decades. Under a white ceiling, choose one of the wooden tables to sit at, or stay on the terrace with a view of the ports of Okaybe, Jbeil and Amchit.
On the menu:
- Breakfast for LBP20,000
- The formula for LBP50,000
- The extra formula for LBP65,000
- The Lebanese menu
Lunch starts with a bowl of fresh almonds in a bed of ice, homemade crunchy multi-cereal bread, a basket of seasonal vegetables and a bucket of zucchini and carrots sliced into sheets.
God! Delicious, real homemade preparation the way my grandma used to cook...
- The Tabbouleh is breathtaking! Mrs. Arze prepares it without onions and without borghol! Yes indeed, no onions, no borghol and it's one of the best Tabbouleh I've ever had! It's a trip to the moon and back, a strong zesty feel, diced tomatoes carved to perfection, softly and smoothly shredded parsley all together mixed with lemon and olive oil. On top of the bowl comes lemon zest making all the difference. This is unique Tabbouleh.
- Stuffed grapevine leaves; thick leaves cooked to perfection, stuffed with tender rice and offering a lemony boost of flavors. Yummy!
- Hummus; simple hummus, smooth and creamy hummus, mashed chickpeas and an aftertaste of lemon.
- The Sfi7a... a blend of our famous Lahme Beajine with a touch of Sfi7a from Baalbeck, inspired by the French Mille feuille... you'll bite into one and scream looking around to see if someone saw you. A dozen layers of bread loaded with shiny fat covered with diced meat and pine nuts. It's exactly like the famous Sfi7a at Abdelrahman Hallab in Tripoli but ten times tastier, healthier and juicier.
- The cheese balls, probably the only non-Lebanese plate, have a crunchy envelop of crushed toasted bread and a melting three cheese mix. Loved the acidity of the cheese.
- Kebbeh Sajiyyeh: fine Kebbeh stuffed with crunchy walnuts and ghee. Add a light spread of hummus and enjoy the super flavors of a rich Kebbeh few cooks around the country know how to do.
- Fweregh: if you think you've had fweregh before think again! Thick and juicy fweregh stuffed with molten rice mixed with diced meat and then fried for an exterior crunch. They don't feel fatty and they're not watery, instead they are thick fingers of Fweregh you'll enjoy like you would a gourmet item. Arze rolls them in Laban giving them the extra mile of flavor.
- 3ayche Khanom Beans: my senses trembled, my tongue danced, my eyes watered, my heart skipped a beat... Rice and beans, as simple as it is, a plate with such passion, a plate with a soul. Adored it!
- Beid Ghanam as juicy as a water sponge bathing in lemon juice. They're just perfect!
I've enjoyed everything! The food is exceptional, a real homey experience where Arze and her daughter welcome you with arms wide open. A happy place indeed where you'll be transported to the era of Paris of the Middle East.
Best for last: the homemade molten chocolate cake. That juicy cake covered with a dark chocolate sauce, that cake my mother in law prepares perfectly - exactly like Arze's. This cake can rightfully take it's place as part of Lebanon's best desserts and cravings.
Today is a happy day in my life meeting a woman with such passion and dedication. Today I added to my repertoire a homey kitchen I recommend to all my friends. If you still don't have plans for the weekend please visit Arze Chidiac.