CHECK OTHER REVIEWS FOR THIS PLACE:
Al Mandaloun Beach Club: Good Food but in a Smoky and Smelly Environment!
Kahwet el Mandaloun: A New Favorite Place
Driving passed Dbayeh's seaside road, you'll notice a stone house by the Corniche. "Al Mandaloun" has expanded its business to include Mandaloun Beach Club, a place that has taken its share of hype this summer. The place boasts a pool, a fish restaurant and a Lebanese cafe... We chose to dine at the fish restaurant... to the sounds of crashing waves and a view of Dbayeh's seaport, this restaurant will take your breath away.
After the summer season has ended, the fish restaurant has moved up to the first floor and there are plans for a Lebanese cafe to open, which promises local cuisine with a touch of modernism.
Take the elevator up to the first floor. Four displays of fish welcome you as you open the door... a beautiful setup. Four masterpieces of colors... one can't but stop to snap a picture. Orange, grey, white and brown, I felt like eating the fish on the spot. Inside is a beautiful restaurant inspired by the summer season and the sandy beaches of Indonesia. A low ceiling, stone walls and lots of wood with decorative lamps that reflect lines of shadows all around the space. White colors and light wood with a wide facade of glass provides an open view of the beach. The bar transports you to Santorini, the balcony to Napoli and the main dining room to a cottage house up in the mountains; beautiful decor indeed.
You can choose between a selection of local and international dishes inspired by the shores of the Mediterranean. Risotto and pasta, mezze and fish, edamame and bottarga, Caesar salads and burrata, seafood and fries with the selection of fish! The average price vary between LBP10,000 and LBP29,000 except the Angus beef which comes with a price tag of LBP63,000.
Dinner starts with a basket of bread, homemade fresh bread with a touch of Italian know how, French savoir fair and rich Lebanese flavors. Olive oil from Zejd. With the bread comes a wooden board that includes labneh, carrots, olives and cucumbers and a bowl of crunchy almonds.
Before we start eating I couldn't help but notice two unfortunate things:
- Dear waiters, at least ask if we want you to serve the plates before even seeing them. I felt I was dining in a Lebanese mezze restaurant.
- The plates stuffed with forks and spoons lose all their charm: in 2016 people take photos of their plates before anything else! Remove the forks. How gross it is to receive a plate of risotto with a spoon stuffed in it!
- Waiters are harsh and lack finesse. Still water was served in the same glass that included sparkling water and twice, the chairs were pushed, the waiters were running around with no direction. Anyway, there are too many waiters for this tight space; I could count at least a dozen and three managers.
Dinner is served:
- Red tuna carpaccio topped with black pepper and arugula, beautifully decorated with edible flowers and laid on a lemony sauce. They're yummy!
- Salmon carpaccio with its thin slices of green hot chili pepper and avocado quarters are a recommendation.
- The potato salad is yummy with a bit more salt than I expected. Cubes of well cooked potatoes with diced tomatoes marinated in their lemony sauce.
- A very good hummus! Tahina, no garlic, lemony and firm. Always loved Hummus at their other restaurants anyway.
- An unconventional Caesar salad with shrimps, roma lettuce and Parmesan sheets. Good job but can we have the shrimps without their tails when in a salad?
- The oriental salad is finely shredded, has cabbage and wild thyme, olive oil and lemon... yummy!
- Fried shrimps and fried calamari are a must try.
- OMG! The seafood curry is exquisite! The work of a master chef.
- I never imagined enjoying a grilled squid as much as I did tonight. I've had raw squid, freshly fished squid, marinated squid, fried and others but this one tops them all. As simple as it looks, grilled and marinated in lemon, it's so tender you won't believe it's squid.
- When it was time for the main plates, I had the risotto and I wish I could say the plate looked nice. All I could see was a round plate and a huge spoon! Why the heck did I receive a spoon in my plate? It should have been placed along with the other cutlery! Creamy, al dente, lightly salty and flavorful. A generous portion and as good as it should be.
- Grilled fish cooked in sea salt followed. A juicy piece of fish just waiting for some black pepper and some olive oil to be added.
After a sumptuous dinner it was time for dessert. Desserts deserve their own review ...
- I started with the chocolate tart, a triangular piece of cake made with crunchy pastry and covered with creamy chocolate ending with a chocolate crumble. This tart is served with whipped cream on the side. I literally fell in love with it, the crunch and chocolate quality are both memorable.
- Afterwards, we all had the Mont Blanc, this famous cake known to be enjoyed on New Year's Eve. Whipped cream, whole glazed chestnut, crunchy meringue and a chestnut ice cream flavored with rum. We were surprised with a bigger version of the normal cake; its cold ice cream, rich cream and fresh meringue. Its sweetness is just right! I'm surely getting one for New Year's. If I were to grade it alone, it's a 10/10 guaranteed.
- And I was not done yet... I can't visit Mandaloun and not enjoy their chocolate Merry Cream; it surely is the same recipe as the cafe next door but tonight I enjoyed this one even better and felt its chocolate intensity more.
I loved and enjoyed:
- The decorative ropes hanging from the ceiling.
- The white wooden chairs.
- The thick wooden tables created from sliced tree trunks.
- The professionalism of waiters - when they're not walking around the table and pushing each other to move.
- The plates are changed at least five times.
- The clay glazed color of the serving plates.
- Bravo Giselle for the great attention to details and personalized service.
I'd improve and fix:
- Even the cake came with a knife on the same plate! Come on, some finesse!
- Too many waiters walking around. They walk in circles... I felt I was watching a kids game of ring around the roses...
- The place feels claustrophobic.
- I think the place needs some tablecloths for the choice of food and an average check of $65/person.
- Not to mix sparkling water with still, how about using different colored glasses?
- Group website needs to be updated. It still uses old technology and still shows Al Mandaloun Grill as one of the restaurants, but it has been closed for years now.
I enjoyed the food, enjoyed the ambiance and loved the decor. This is a restaurant you want to try!