I've been touring around the country in search of the best crepes, waffles and pancakes to feed my sweet tooth. There are a lot of options out there and here I've tried to present a good range for you to check out. 16 spots each with a difference, an add-on, a memorable souvenir. Your feedback is always appreciated, is there anywhere I've missed?
Dip n Dip Le Mall, located next to Deek Duke, is a Canadian Franchise, a cafe that welcomes you all day for a sweet treat. Enter a square space... a white wall on the left and a dark wood wall on the right, while a bar is found at the very end. The restaurant is filled with square tables surrounded by red and brown leather chairs. Taking over the right side wall, a long bench is made of red, white and dark grey. The red Dip n Dip logo decorates the left wall and the bar where two chocolate fountains flow majestically.
- Chocolate waffles: Two waffle quarters are topped with chocolate and white chocolate sauce and are served in a branded plate with whipped cream on the side acting as decoration. The waffle is fluffy and airy without any crunchy borders, which is good, but the chocolate on top is way too sweet. An overdose of sweetness, a chocolate that sticks to the tongue.
- The Dip n Dip crêpe: A large crêpe loaded with fresh fruit and topped with chocolate, a chocolate spread that comes with the dish and is served live. To start with, the crêpe is too chewy, the fruits inside too cold, the chocolate overly sweet and gooey. I only ate a single bite, it's really too much. A plate that lacks smoothness, lacks warmth, lacks finesse. I expected the crêpe to be warm, the fruit to be less cold, and the chocolate to be hot and not too sweet.
- The pancakes: Five thin pancakes served in a tower like we see in the movies alongside a cup of chocolate on the side. They are good, really good. Fluffy, spongy, light pancakes, moist and interesting with the chocolate cup adding the flavor you expect from a dip. A mix of different chocolates, which is good, considering that the pancakes are thick, with a bit of chocolate to make every bite special.
Located on Beirut's waterfront facing the sea where the Hard Rock Cafe used to be, Meito is a newcomer to the local market, offering a selection of coffees, frozen yogurt, breakfast and bubble tea. Inside this large space you'll find a green spirit. Green benches, a green logo and a certain class created by wood and the white walls. Outside is a wall of greenery with the famous smiley face. Reach the shop and approach the counter to be served. It's self-service in here between 7am and 12pm while breakfast is served until the place turns into a coffee shop.
- Buttermilk pancakes: Served with mixed berries and maple syrup. A beautiful plate, an eye candy creation but the pancakes are hard and chewy. It's a nice looking and generous plate, beautifully decorated and filled with fruits but the pancakes should be fluffy and airy. The upper one was very hard and chewy while the lower ones were thin, chewy on the inside and hard on the edges. I've surely had better.
- Grandma’s waffles: "Fluffy waffles served with mixed berries, maple syrup and fresh cream." Beautiful to look at, but not enjoyable to eat. They are hard as a rock and surely not fluffy. Waffles should be airy, fluffy and maybe a little crunchy on the edges. A lot has to be improved with these. I enjoyed the chocolate served on the side and maple syrup.
One of Zaitunay Bay’s newest spots is a Waffle parlor that caught my attention while walking along the corniche. "Maison de la Gaufre", which translates to "The House of Waffles" welcomes you in a cozy and chic setup preparing waffles a-la-minute for those of you with a sweet tooth.
Any waffle can be dipped in milk chocolate, white chocolate or dark chocolate. Let's start with the square one. A fluffy cake-like waffle with toasted squares and filled with chocolate. I loved the quality of the dough and especially the richness of the filling. Pay attention not to spill chocolate all over the place, or burn your lips. This innovation is unique and new, different from the average waffles with a whipped cream topping or Nutella. As for the Liege waffles, even though nice to try, I found them to be a bit too crunchy, too sweet and too hard. They lacked juiciness and flavor. If you're a waffle lover, this is a place you'll want to visit. On the go, buy your waffle for LBP5,000 and continue walking on the marina. Opening a dine-in space offering fruit topped waffles with ice cream is an idea to consider.
Down on Jeanne D'Arc Street in Hamra, next to my favorite Cupcakery, is a brightly lit cafe called Ci Gusta. Ci Gusta serves a large selection of crepes, waffles and pancakes, ice creams and frozen yogurt. The first impression is great, the place is beautifully lit, French music plays in the background and the staff is welcoming.
- Nutella and cookie crêpe: Freshly baked hot crêpe spread with Nutella, banana slices, crushed cookies and rich chocolate sauce. A large crêpe folded, like Crepaway does it, in a rectangle. Around it is a line of bananas and a decorative mountain of cream. Now for the taste, Nutella inside and more chocolate, an overdose of chocolate that will surely give you diabetes. Ci Gusta's chocolate is good and not too sweet, but there's simply too much of it here.
- Choco-banana waffle: A fresh, hot waffle smothered in a warm, smooth chocolate syrup, served with slices of banana and fresh cream or vanilla ice cream, drizzled with a lattice of luxury chocolate sauce. A large oval plate branded with the place's logo has a waffle in the middle and is topped with a blend of white and milk chocolate with bananas on the side. I expect a waffle to be fluffy, spongy and airy and it shouldn't need to be chewed. As for the chocolate topping, it's adequately sweet and enjoyable. That's a very good dish for a place like Ci Gusta. With that, the decorative mountain of whipped cream tastes fresh and isn't watery.
- The pancakes: As chewy as the waffle... there shouldn't be a border when you're talking about pancakes. Reaching the heart, the pancakes are too gooey because they're too thin. Five very thin pancakes, they should be thicker and four would be enough. On the top is the same chocolate, but again, there's too much of it.
The story all began in 1983 when Jean launched this new idea in the village of Kleiat and stayed there until 1987 when they decided to move, together with his two siblings Adel and Jeanne D'arc, to Feytroun. They served crepes in the region until 1991 where they settled next to Supermarket Bou Khalil on the Feytroun highway leading to the Mzaar ski resort. An innovative idea in the region, 80% of their daily income came from crepes, while the rest came from sales of pizzas, submarine sandwiches and burgers for those who wanted to try something else. They have been serving the same quality crepe mix for the past 30 years. It was every child's ultimate satisfaction to eat a crepe from Mr. Crepe.
- Poulette: Crepe dough, a slice of Gruyere cheese covered with the signature Poulette sauce that contains mayonnaise and garlic. Shredded chicken breast follows, salt, pepper and mushrooms to finish the rich mix. A mix of crunchiness on the outside and juiciness on the inside create the ultimate satisfaction. I recommend this crepe.
- Chobano: Commercial chocolate, not Nutella but something better suited for a crepe, with less sweetness and a harder consistency. The dough absorbs the chocolate making it crunchy and full of taste. Inside, the softness of the hot chocolate and mature bananas coupled with crunched almonds makes this a unique piece of heaven. Mr. Crepe uses crushed almonds, which adds a better taste than regular nuts.
- Tonata: Eggs, cheese and a special tuna mix marinated in a lemon sauce. The eggs, cooked without oil, are amazing. That's a good one, even though I would have preferred it with less lemon.
Spot is a small coffee shop that might not catch your attention. Tiny in size but huge in its offerings, Spot is not pretending to offer sophistication. In the middle of Badaro, before reaching Byblos bank, Spot is a small place named after the shop that was occupying the same location. Inside is a coffee house selling some refreshments and coffee along with hotdogs, crepes, waffles and salads.
- Chocolate, banana and nuts: A thin and lightly crunchy crepe filled with Nutella, bananas and nuts. As good as you'd expect, thin and light and topped with chocolate syrup. Do not expect a specialist crepe with decoration and a porcelain plate, but rather a café-style, served in a plastic plate and cut into ready-to-eat squares. It's even better than many around town. I would personally make the banana slices a bit bigger so you can feel them on your palate.
- The second was the honey crepe: Honey, dried raisins, rum and nuts. A soft dough filed with honey that gives sweetness before you feel the crunch of the nuts and the pleasant hint of rum. An end of note of chewy raisins balanced the taste of this tasty crepe, which has a touch of finesse. Warm honey, chewy bits of raisin and slightly crunchy nuts. Again, I remind you to expect a small sized crepe served in a plastic plate, street food style and it's delicious.
- The third was the Grand Marnier: A famous crepe in Paris, but rarely found in Lebanon: orange marmalade and Grand Marnier. Too strong of a taste, the heated marmalade doubles its sweetness while the Grand Marnier doesn't come through. Not my favorite.
Down on Kantari street, next to Aziz, Yeh! is a frozen yogurt parlor and café.
- The crêpe is huge, thick and generously filled. Served in a rectangular plate, a round crêpe folded in half and filled with Nutella, a milk chocolate bar and crunchy bits, before being topped with Oreo crumble and Nutella. I like the dough, which is a bit chewy and lightly crispy on the sides, the Oreo crumble which adds an enjoyable crunch, the Nutella spread smoothly without being too gooey and the milk chocolate bar, which adds sweetness while the white chocolate has bits of crunchy biscuits in it. I liked it.
- A large rectangular waffle with a row of bananas, another one with chocolate, brownies, chocolate biscuit and strawberries with Nutella on top. Beautiful, this will make my kids happy. The waffle on the other hand, is done well, but there was nothing exceptional about it. It’s same old waffle many cafes have: the same rectangular machine with crunchy borders, which lacks thickness and a spongy feel.
- Three pancakes sit in a rectangular plate, one next to the other with Nutella for decoration. The pancakes are good, spongy as you'd expect, fluffy and airy, but I'd change the decoration of the plate. Actually, all the plates lack international professionalism and the design touch I'd expect Yeh! to offer. Anyway, the pancakes are tasty.
There's a new address in town, more specifically in the heart of Achrafieh. Reach the popular Sodeco Street, just few meters from Classic Burger Joint, and find the new Cafe Diem - a cafe like no other in town. A white wooden door on the street hides the story of a man, Donald Battal, who decided to share a passion he has kept inside for long. A simple cafe, where you can come in to enjoy homemade recipes, created with love with no sophistication whatsoever. Cafe Diem was born to cater to the connoisseurs and newcomers to fine cuisine alike and offers tasty bites in a cozy yet refined atmosphere.
- I was happy to know that Lebanon now has Galette de Sarassin. Today's galette was exceptional, thin like paper, crunchy like a biscuit, flavorful as you’d expect to embrace the layers of premium ham, melted cheese, grilled mushrooms and cooked egg. I've had hundreds of galettes in Paris and this is one compares to the very best. Bite into this cocktail of flavors while you enjoy the different textures caressing your taste buds in style. Feel it crumbling under your teeth while the juiciness of the filling melts smoothly... That's a crepe to try.
- Valrhona 70% dark chocolate crepe with diced strawberries: Simplicity is key and makes this plate the dessert of choice. A thin crepe hosting a strong chocolate that connoisseurs love. This is yummy with a cup of coffee after work.
It’s called Crepaway for a reason isn’t it! I tried I a few amazingly tasty crepes to confirm that famous Crepaway indeed serves some mouthwatering dishes.
- Nat: An oat crepe filled with ham, fresh mushrooms and oregano on a light cream and Edam cheese, served with a refreshing side salad. The juicy mix pours out softly with every cut along with melted cheese and small pieces of ham... Yum. The crunchy light oat dough adds a slight sweetness to the overall taste. If you're on a diet, this is your perfect order.
- Jeanne: Ham, fresh mushrooms and oregano on Edam and Parmesan cheese. Melting white cheese with a taste of sweet bitterness that the Parmesan provides with the fresh mushrooms to add the needed finesse. I enjoyed it even though I'm not a fan of sweet doughs. I loved the filling and its generosity, the quality and thickness of the ham, as well as the non-oily cheese.
- Martine: Chocolate spread, banana and nuts. This is one of the first items on the Crepaway menu introduced thirty years ago, which made me fall in love with crepes again. Looking at this creation makes your mouth water. Thin, slightly crunchy dough generously filled with premium ingredients that melt on your tongue making you moan indistinctly. A homemade Callebaut chocolate with crunchy nuts and thinly sliced bananas. Awesome textures of passion and love. My goodness, this is heavenly.
- Michele: A white chocolate spread topped with strawberry coulis and fresh strawberries - delicious! In one word: "Ouf"... Tasty and sweet enough, this majestic and generous topping of strawberries, shredded white chocolate and homemade strawberry coulis makes this crepe a piece of heaven on earth. If you've already tasted it, you'll understand what I mean.
Don Baker is an upscale version of a 'local neighborhood mankoushi vendor'. I thought I would go in, grab a menu and check it out for next time…but I decided to stay and happily discovered one of the country’s yummiest pizzas.
- This dark chocolate crepe (Chocorange), a blend of 100% Callebaut dark chocolate, orange jam and crushed almonds. Ouf! An overwhelming, extravagant crepe presented in an uneven way and filled with a melting dark chocolate that's balanced by a small portion of orange jam that has a subtle taste while the almonds add this fine end enjoyable crunch. A fine piece of redefined finesse in every bite filling thin dough that's crunchy on the sides and slightly chewy on the inside that puts the ingredients up front. Not only is the filling unique, but the dough extremely special. To make it even more exceptional, a gently sugar powder covers it. Breathtaking to say the least!
- The Chocoframboise also uses 100% dark Callebaut chocolate and some raspberry jam... I hoped it would make me happy like its sibling. Let the journey begin: A slight sweetness erupts while the powdered sugar touches your lips... A gentle sponginess starts melting under your teeth while the crepe dough dismantles, revealing the rich heart, a strong dark chocolate that's softened by the raspberry jam which adds the needed sweetness. I love it, its simplicity, its ingredients, and surely its taste.
It’s always nice to start the day in style, the American way, enjoying a hefty breakfast, getting a boost for the day ahead. Craving an American-style breakfast? Visiting The Latest Version Diner can realize that little dream, down on the Dbayeh seaside road. Visiting for my second time, the food was simply great and I enjoyed the perfect start to the day.
- The Pancakes: It was like time had stopped as I grabbed my phone and started shooting this beautiful plate. Four pancakes with chocolate chips, topped with a chocolate sauce, served with warm banana slices and a Nutella dip, and decorated with a mountain of whipped cream. Thin and soft, those pancakes were so light, fluffy and moist; every bite was a lesson in style. Nothing chewy or crunchy. I planned to eat one single bite, just to taste it, but I couldn't stop. Just sweet enough, they were great.
- The Waffle: The waffles… Ouf! Breathtaking! Fresh colors that will make you say WOW. An oval waffle, 2cm thick and 10cm wide with a hard, crunchy cover and soft sweet inner filling. The best thing about them is their sugar bits that crunch under your teeth. This is what I call a decent, tasty waffle. Add to that some red fruit jam, strawberries and banana and you're in heaven. Love in every bite.
Have you heard of Fresh, the healthy cafe? Newly opened on Zalka highway, next to Kouyoumji Center, is a new spot that offers a large selection of morning treats, lunch and dinner with a choice of juices, and it’s all healthy. Welcome to the world of health. White, light green and colorful posters take over this well lit space, which is fitted with four squared tables and a wooden bar overlooking the main street. I ordered and waited to be served.
The good morning crepe: A triangular-shaped crepe filled with eggs, cheddar cheese, green peppers and mushrooms. Before even tasting it, its look and aromatic freshness open up your appetite. A thick, yet crunchy dough, slightly and adequately sweet, loaded with melting cheese that adds a bit of oiliness, moist scrambled eggs and a crunch, provided by the pepper. Bravo... Really, I was amazed. What a perfect combination of ingredients put into bites of love. All of this, at only 628 calories.
Recognized as the official chocolate of the Belgium monarchy, Galler is indeed a superb product. Recently opened on the Zalka highway, you are welcomed into a beautiful setup that smells of luxury. Touring around the country's best chocolate shops, Galler was one of the places that left an impression on me. The professionalism of their staff, the taste of their chocolates, and most importantly how they handled their delicious bites...
- Smoked salmon crepe laid on creamy cheese with caviar and served with white chocolate sauce: When I read white chocolate, I was intrigued and had to try the salmon. Two small pieces of crepe, generously filled with salmon slices, decorated with lines of white chocolate and sprinkled with crispy bits of tobiko and served with a green salad with cherry tomatoes on the side. Interesting! The texture is nice, the salmon is very good and the white chocolate adds a touch of flavor and finesse.
- Galler Gauffre with 70% dark chocolate: "Small" was the first impression and "awesome" was the second as I took the first bite. A small rectangle of crunchy dough filled with melted dark chocolate. Very, very nice textures and a strong full-bodied flavor that will make you come back to Galler.
70% Galler chocolate crepe served with mixed berries, garnished with white chocolate and ice cream: Bravo! I wished this could have been even bigger. A small portion, but a guaranteed cocktail of enjoyment. A thin crepe carefully toasted and filled with a dark chocolate cream, which is so smooth. On the side there’s a pure mixed berry sorbet, which didn't want to melt. That's an ice cream I want to buy for my kids... Unique if I may say.
Way before becoming a trend around the country, Casablanca was known for its brunch every Sunday. Opening at 11am you are welcomed to savor Casablanca's fine organic preparations in the iconic setup located on the top floor of a traditional villa, right on the Corniche. Casablanca is known for using all organic products – eggs, vegetables, jams and cheese as well as many creations, all produced in-house.
- Pancakes: I might have expected a tower of pancakes with different layers but what I received was beautiful enough to activate all my senses. A stunning, large pancake covered with a mix of fruits. One single thick pancake soaked in maple syrup and covered with cut fruit. It reminded me of my last trip to London. A mouthwatering and tasty pancake I can recommend. Just look at the colors, they speak for themselves.
- French Toast, Pain Perdu or more of a waffle: When the plate landed in front of me, I was in awe. A round plate filled with a rectangular piece of thick bread and meticulously decorated with a mix of bananas, apples and strawberries. Around it and covering it, maple syrup gave it the flavor it needed. That's a dessert I loved, I say a dessert because naming it French Toast makes it lose its sumptuousness. Thick premium bread topped and stacked with maple syrup, slightly crunchy on the borders and chewy inside, married with the fruits, it made for an unforgettable experience. A moist bun that's so enjoyable, sweet and lovely... Really breathtaking. I still remember the taste to date... Exquisite!
If you're driving on the Zalka highway, on your way to Jounieh, you can't but notice Crepico. In blue and other bright colors, Crepico has taken the highway by storm. Although it looks a bit commercial or childish, this dessert parlor is not what you would expect... Amazing! I can tell you that I've found my sweet escape. They have great offerings.
- Two heart-shaped waffles, served on an oval plate with the Crepico logo, one covered with chocolate and white chocolate sauce while the other is simply covered with sugar powder. A soft, spongy waffle that's simply good. I loved its texture, its sponginess, its airy feel... That's a mouthwatering creation. Other than being tasty, the portion is generous and good looking. Recommended! Next to that is an ice cream scoop, a good sweet ice cream that has a commercial feel, but also offers the flavor it needs to make it enjoyable. I appreciated the perfect sweetness inside.
- The Crepico crêpe is beautiful and innovative, richly filled but way too heavy and way too sweet. A bag-shaped crêpe wrapped with marshmallow and filled with melting chunks of marshmallow with about half a jar of Nutella as well. It's like eating warm Nutella with a spoon. I'd add an interesting crunch, an additional texture, less chocolate and more marshmallows to make this creation a good one.
- The pancakes: Man! They're awesome! I never imagined that I would eat a pancake that good here in Lebanon. A huge portion of thick pancake, not chewy and or heavy, light and airy, not sweet, not bready... Just awesome! The pancake is filled with milk chocolate in the middle and covered with more chocolate along with marshmallow bits. Uff... I can't get enough of this!
Arrive at the Four Seasons facing Zaytunay Bay and give your car to the professional valet. A smiling and attentive doorman will show you to the Grill Room, on the second floor. A gentle lady, with a fresh smile welcomes you, with a "Good morning sir," as she walks us to a square table for two. After explaining the concept to us meticulously, we were out on our own to indulge in a world of mystery.
The new breakfast formula includes a different set of starters that land on your table as you sit, followed with a choice of fresh juices prepared on the spot. Inside, the buffet has been doubled in size with more fruit, more pastry items, basically more of everything.
- Waffles: A circular waffle cut into 4 quarters, condensed and crunchy, it can be easily enjoyed as is... Add some Nutella or maple syrup to this airy creation and enjoy. Firas, our waiter, came afterwards with some homemade caramel sauce. Uf! Ouf! Wow! Excellent indeed.
- Pancakes served with maple syrup, Nutella and orange marmalade. Even though I was not expecting anything exceptional, this one amazed me. Thick and fluffy, you cannot but continue to finish the plate as soon as you start.