Category Archives: Reviews

Indigo on the Roof New Menu: Excellent Choices, Exquisite Desserts

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Indigo on the Roof is Le Gray Beirut‘s exclusive restaurant and one of my favorite spots in Beirut. I’ve been there countless times for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner and it has always been a pleasant experience. The restaurant is refined and offers delicious food, the staff is (almost) always friendly and professional, the service is great and welcoming and the panoramic views of Beirut are stunning.

A month ago, we were invited to try out Indigo on the Roof’s new menu with the arrival of Le Gray’s new Executive Chef Darren Andow, who has over 20 years of experience in the field and a particular passion for Lebanon (Thank u Google). That night, we basically tasted every single item on the menu in small portions and I was so impressed with the flavors that I went back a week ago for lunch to have a full meal and review properly the items I liked the most.

Seafood Platter

We were 4 people:

We ordered the seafood platter, the duck salad and the Burrata as starters. The seafood platter is rich and fresh, it contains oysters, shrimps, mussels and marinated calamari with a couple of dips. The duck salad and buratta were excellent, the seafood platter was good but I would have preferred ordering the grilled calamari over the marinated one. If you like fish and want to try something different (but less-healthy), go for the sesame crusted oysters.

Duck Salad

Buratta

As for the main dishes, we had the char-grilled veal chop served with portobello mushrooms, vine tomatoes and a Roquefort cream, the new Wagyu beef filet (marble score 7) with a bearnaise sauce and the truffle addict tagliatelle. The Wagyu beef filet was mouthwatering and amazing, just like all their steaks, I loved the veal chop as well and especially the sauce, and the tagliatelle is a great choice if you like truffles.

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Moving on to the desserts, I barely had the chance to taste them properly the first time as I was full from all the appetizers and dishes so I made sure I leave some room for dessert this time. We ordered the lemon grass crème brûlée, the classic lemon tart and the Valrhona chocolate fondant.

Le Gray’s desserts always leave me speechless. In fact, sometimes I pass by Gordon’s Cafe on the ground floor just to have their Pain Perdu. If I had to choose one dessert among the new items, it would be the lemon grass crème brûlée.

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All in all, everything we ordered was perfect from presentation, to freshness and taste, just like you’d expect things to be at a five-star hotel. The portions were sized appropriately, not too big, not too small and we ended up paying around $70 per person without the wine. Indigo on the Roof is not a restaurant I can afford to visit frequently but it’s definitely worth the money you will pay!

For me, it’s an ideal place for a romantic night out, a family/business lunch or dinner or to celebrate a special occasion. Breakfast at Indigo is also highly recommended (try their Eggs-Benedict).

Rating: 4.5/5

Review: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice [2016]

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Who would win in a fight, Batman or Superman? We all went to see Batman v Superman to witness the ultimate showdown between two of the most beloved superheros and the movie turned out to be even better than I expected it to be. The movie is very dark, Ben Affleck played Batman and Bruce Wayne superbly and he’s the best Batman we’ve seen in years, Eisenberg was absolutely brilliant as Lex Luthor, Cavill’s performance as Superman was pretty much the same as his performance in Man of Steel and Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman was a hit and her role, even though trivial to the plot, had a huge impact.

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The action scenes were breathtaking and intense, the fight scenes between between Superman and Batman are unreal and much better than the trailer, the graphics were great (except for one lousy CGI scene), the plot is well written, the story is emotion and action-packed and will engage you from beginning to end. Also, DC comics and superheroes fans are in for a lot of surprises, especially in the final scene. If I were to compare BvS to other DC Comics movies, I would say it’s a huge step from Man of Steel but not as good as “The Dark Knight”.

Batman v Superman is a 2 and a half hours movie but it didn’t feel that long honestly. It’s a masterpiece and I would definitely watch it again. It starts showing tomorrow in Lebanese theaters.

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Rating: 4.5/5

Review: How To Be Single (2016)

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My wife and I have a rule: Whenever I take her to watch one of my horror/action/thriller movies, I have to go to the movies with her and watch romantic comedies/chick flicks. Yesterday was an exception. I asked her to come along to the premiere of ‘How To Be Single’ because Dakota Johnson, Leslie Mann and Rebel Wilson are all in the movie and I am a fan of all three of them, especially Wilson who’s hilarious.

The movie is about four girls, Alice, Robin, Lucy and Meg who all want to learn how to be single in world filled with ever-evolving definitions of loves. Dakota Johnson plays the role of a young woman (Alice) who’s experiencing single life after being in a relationship for a long time, then she meets the “being single” expert and fun-loving Robin one day and her life turns upside down. The plot is a deja-vu but the movie was quite good and very funny. Rebel Wilson (Robin)’s jokes cracked me up and a couple of them were hilarious! (Wait for the LTRP joke) and Alice was fun to watch throughout the movie. Aside from being funny, the movie does make you think about certain things in life whether you are single, married or in a serious relationship.

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One thing I didn’t like though is that it was a bit too long and I got bored at some point. But if you are looking for a entertaining and fun movie to watch with your date or your wife, or need more reasons to stay single this Valentine’s, then I recommend you go watch How To Be Single.

Rating: 3.25/5

Cash Flow 2 Review: Should Have Stopped At 1

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cash flow2 Source

To be honest, the title should have been “Should Have Stopped At 0” because the first Cash Flow movie is as bad as its sequel. I really wanted to say a couple of positive things about that movie, but the only thing I enjoyed were the bloopers at the end. Nevertheless, I decided not to share the harsh review that I had drafted but instead list some of the things that bothered me in this movie and that are being repeated in most Lebanese movies and series.

Comments on Cash Flow 2:
Actors:
– I didn’t like the guy playing the main character (Carlos Azar) because he doesn’t fit the role. Also, why is there so much focus on his looks? I felt like watching Fashion TV at some point.

– Hisham Haddad is not funny (he never was), I like Gabriel Yammine but he’s yelling the whole time for some reason, Teta Latifa jokes are no longer funny and the new girl is cute but she’s not making any sense in the movie. Oh and that guy playing Gabriel’s right hand is disturbing and not funny at all.

Plot:
– The plot is very confusing to say the least. Going back to Cash Flow 1, why would a random rich man give a guy who just saved him a credit card? Who gives away credit cards randomly? Moving on to Cash Flow 2, why would you give Mazen, a struggling young man who tends to spend more than he has and is heavily indebted and couldn’t control his credit card spending, control of your company? Isn’t it obvious that he doesn’t know how to manage his money?

– Assuming the movie is a comedy, how is killing a guy by mistake in one of the scenes funny? How is beating up someone funny? And why is Mazen (the main character) depressed and sad the whole time?

I won’t say more because it will ruin the movie for those who want to watch it, but you get the idea.

General Comments on most commercial Lebanese movies and series:

Some of these comments apply to Cash Flow but there are far worse movies and TV series out there. I am sure you can relate to most of these points:

– Actors are always dressed up, even when they are shopping at the supermarket.
– They all own sports cars, especially the girls, and Range Rovers.
– They only eat sushi.
– They all live in villas with a huge garden.
– They don’t know how to yell or get angry normally.
– They are always loud.
– They speak in a weird (Mexican-Syrian-Lebanese) language.
– They are trying too hard the whole time.
– The roads they drive on are perfectly paved.
– The pubs and night clubs they go to all have disco balls.
– The jokes are cliché and not funny.
– George R. R. Martin couldn’t come up with a more complex plot.
– We still see people wearing sunglasses indoors.

All in all, The only reason why I enjoyed the bloopers was because the actors were being themselves and not faking it and that’s what they should be doing in the movie as well. Of course, this is my opinion and I’m sure a lot of people beg to differ.

Score: 2/5

“Bennesbeh Labokra Chou?” Review From A Non Ziad Rahbani Fan

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I just got back from “Bennesbeh Labokra Chou?” premiere at Beirut Souks and the least I could say is that it was a beautiful experience. It felt great to finally watch the original footage and put a face to all these voices that people have been listening to for ages. I’m not even a Rahbani fan and I enjoyed it, so you can imagine how happy Ziad fans were. People were singing along with the songs, laughing at their favorite quotes and repeating some of the lines and they clapped more than once throughout the play. As far as the image and sound quality were concerned, I think M Media did an amazing job by reconstructing this play from bits and pieces. The play is 2 hours long, a bit too long for me, but more than good enough to be shown in theaters.

For those who are not familiar with the plot, it’s about a couple Zakaria (Ziad Rahbani) and Souraya (Nabila Zeitouni) who decided to move to Beirut and work together in a trendy bar in Hamra to provide for their family and improve their social status. However, the couple’s ambitions are thwarted by the high cost of living in Beirut and Souraya starts going out with customers to get some extra cash. Sadly enough, things have become even worse 35 years later and more and more Lebanese families are struggling to stay above the poverty line and provide for their families.

najib I finally got the “Bet7ebba ya Najib” line

One of the most powerful acts in the play was the last one where Zakaria is fed up with the situation and lets his frustration out. It’s a whole different thing when you see it live rather than hear it on a radio and Ziad’s acting was quite impressive in that part. Speaking of which, I loved how genuine the acting was in general. The characters weren’t shouting and faking it like most Lebanese actors do these days and it felt like they were all having fun and just being themselves. My favorite character was Joseph Sakr, I always admired this man and listened to his songs and seeing him perform “live” was a dream come true for me! (Check out the small video I shared [here])

All in all, Bennesbeh Labokra Chou? is a must-see whether you’re a Rahbani fan or not. It’s all about the experience rather than the play itself and if you enjoy looking back at old footage like myself, you will love it even more!

PS: On another note, and just like I mentioned back in November, a second Rahbani play “Film Ameriki Tawil” will be in cinemas soon.

Is The Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Plus Worth The Upgrade?

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I’ve been carrying The Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge for almost 6 months now, and I still didn’t get bored of its unique design and curved side screens, but I missed having a bigger screen and I’ve been struggling with the memory and the battery. In fact, battery life is much better than the S5 but it’s still relatively bad especially when your memory is near full (which is the case almost always with me).

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I basically needed a bigger S6 Edge with a larger battery and that’s exactly what Samsung delivered. The Samsung S6 Edge Plus was launched along with the new Note 5 and even though I loved the new Note and tested it out for a while, I opted for the S6 Edge Plus because I got used to its slick design and edged curves.

Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ vs. Galaxy S6 edge: What’s the difference?
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The Galaxy S6 edge+ is basically a bigger version of the S6 Edge but there are five key differences that are worth mentioning:

1- Bigger Screen: The hardware is the same, the design is almost identical but the display jumped from 5.1 to 5.7 inches which is quite significant (25% more screen).

2- Bigger Battery: The (non-removable) battery is 3000 mAh vs 2600 mAh for the Edge, which is normal since the phone is bigger.

3- Fast Wireless Charging: If you thought Fast Charging is great, Wireless Fast Charging is amazing! It’s mostly useful at the office as it keeps your battery charging and your phone unplugged. Personally speaking, fast charging is one of my favorite features in the new Galaxy series and compensates for the lousy battery life.

4- Improved Performance: The S6 Edge plus has 4GB of RAM instead of 3GB, which means a better performance and improved multi-tasking. The S6 Edge was already ultra fast so I doubt that I will notice a significant change.

5- No IR Blaster: I never used my smartphone as a remote so this feature is pretty useless for me to be honest, but I don’t understand why they removed it.

There are other features that were first introduced with the S6 Edge Plus, like the Apps Edge, Video collage and Live broadcast but they are all available on the S6 Edge now. As far as cameras are concerned, I read somewhere that the S6 Edge Plus camera was slightly improved but I didn’t notice any improvements yet.

Is It Worth The Upgrade?
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To be honest, I usually wait a couple of months till the prices drop before upgrading but Samsung CTC’s swap campaign helped me speed up the process, especially that I got an extra discount as gift. At first, I wanted to swap my S6 Edge but then I decided to swap an old iPhone 5S I have for the new S6 Edge Plus because the price I got for the iPhone was better than most cellular shops and I ended up paying a difference of around $300 for the new phone (+ I got the Wireless Fast Charging for free). For those interested, you can value your phone [here] before doing the swap.

All in all, I recommend upgrading to the S6 Edge Plus if you love big screens and want a better battery life. If you are a Note fan and make use of the pen, the Note 5 is a major upgrade from the previous models and comes highly recommended.

First Visit To The Cheesecake Factory In Beirut

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The Cheesecake Factory opens officially today in Verdun, Beirut right across Starbucks but the media were all invited yesterday to try out the new outlet. I got there around 7 pm and the place was already packed but we were seated quickly.

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The place looks really nice from the inside and is very spacious. There’s a bar area on one side and the traditional cheesecake stand on the entrance. The staff were all very friendly and welcoming and some of them came all the way from The Cheesecake Factory Dubai to help out.

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Since I’ve been already to the one in Dubai, I knew what to expect but I was curious to know if the menu is the same exact one and the dishes taste the same. The menu is identical to the one in Dubai and in the States (as confirmed by my half-American cousin), offering a LOT of choices, more than you could possibly imagine. I felt a bit dizzy looking at the menu the first time and I took me half an hour to order yesterday. The light menu (SkinnyLicious®) is also available.

We started off with few cocktails and appetizers:

Cocktails:
– Long Island Iced Tea
– Whiskey Smash
– The Ultimate Margarita
– Passion Fruit Margarita
– Pina Colada

The cocktails were huge and all good.

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Appetizers:
– Avocado Eggrolls
– Fried Macaroni & Cheese
– Hot Spinach & Cheese Dip
– Factory Nachos

The Mac & Cheese is a must try. The Hot Spinach & Cheese dip is really good, Nachos are good but I didn’t like the avocado egg rolls much.

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Moving on to the main dishes, we had:
– Chicken Madeira
– Chicken & Biscuits
– Cajun Chicken Littles
– Smokehouse BBQ Burger
– Herb crusted Filet of Salmon

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If you are a person who loves large portions of food then you will fall in love with the place. The dishes were huge and delicious. The Chicken Madeira and the smokehouse burger were my favorite.

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As for desserts, there are all kinds of stuff to choose from but you obviously have to try cheesecakes at The Cheesecake Factory so we ordered:

– Godiva Cheesecake
– Oreo Cheesecake
– Banana Pudding Cheesecake

The Oreo was ok, the Banana pudding was good but the Godiva was absolutely amazing and is a must-try! I’m sure there are other cheesecakes worth trying but you need like a year to try them all out so good luck!

All in all, The Cheesecake Factory in Beirut is everything you expect it to be and more. If you haven’t been before, you should definitely go and try it out. The food and service are excellent, the portions are huge and the prices are reasonable.

Make sure to go through the [menu] online before going to save yourself some time there 🙂

PS: There’s an underground parking place right across The Cheesecake Factory if you don’t like giving your car to the valet.

Review: “Spectre” Is Fun But Slightly Disappointing

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I enjoyed “Skyfall” and was looking forward to the latest installment “Spectre”. The trailer was very promising but the movie failed to impress. I don’t know if I had unreasonably high expectations for this installment following the success of Skyfall but I honestly got a bit bored in the last hour and lost interest in the plot.

Spectre did start promisingly with Bond in Mexico City climbing over rooftops, assassinating terrorists, running from explosions, finding himself in a spinning helicopter and causing an international incident. However, the actions scenes that followed weren’t that impressive and could have been executed better especially the car chases. Even the main seduction scenes were disappointing with Monica Belluci showing very briefly and Léa Seydoux not worthy of a Bond girl in my opinion.

As far as the plot is concerned, it’s way too complicated and can easily confuse those who are not familiar with Craig’s previous three installments and old Bond movies as well. In fact, the filmmakers were juggling modernity and nostalgia, just like they did with Skyfall, but it didn’t work out this time. Also, Craig’s character didn’t really help and his lack of humor and emotions remains problematic.

All in all, I think the problem is that Spectre had a lot of everything, from villains, locales, explosions, dialogues. It has all the ingredients but it’s not as fun and entertaining as it should be. It feels like Daniel Craig has had enough of Bond and the last scene where he walks away with his new found love (Bond in love?) is a clear sign of things to come.

Spectre remains a fun and entertaining mid-level Bond movie but I think it’s time we get a new actor to make James Bond relevant again. Quoting Vulture, “the result is fun, even if it’s a mishmash, leaving you shaken, not stirred.”

PS: I hated the song by the way.

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Review: 3.5/5

KOHAR: Celebrating Armenian Heritage Through An Outstanding & Magical Performance

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I’m sure you’ve all noticed how the Forum de Beyrouth was beautifully lit up and transformed in the past few weeks to accommodate KOHAR’s performances. KOHAR originally started as an independent musical and cultural institution by Lebanese-Armenian, Harout Khatchadourian, also known as The Armenian culture patron, and grew to become “an important cornerstone in the unique musical rendition of Armenian alphabet and culture”. KOHAR is famous for its recordings of All Time Armenian Favorites and for their visually and acoustically appealing concerts.

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I’m not very familiar with Armenian culture to be honest (except for the food part), and I wasn’t really sure that I would enjoy listening to Armenian songs for 2 hours especially that I don’t understand the language, but a friend of mine got me tickets and insisted that I should attend and that I would love the show and she was absolutely right!

To begin with, I don’t remember the last time I attended an event as organized as this one. I left home early expecting traffic before the Forum De Beyrouth but there were none and we easily went in and parked. Everyone was seated on time, doors were closed at 8:30 as stated on the tickets and the show kicked off right on time. Moreover, the 15-min intermission didn’t last an hour like most concerts in Lebanon and people went back to their seats on time.

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Moving on to the concert, the setup was magical, the performances were outstanding, songs were presented with an amazing choreography and visual effects (3D Projections) and there was a great attention to details! Throughout two hours, 165 musicians, 16 solo performers and 15 dancers entertained an enchanted crowd and kept us asking for more. The whole experience was truly one of a kind and is highly recommended for any music lover and you definitely don’t need to understand Armenian to enjoy the show.

The only part where I felt a bit weird was when we were all handed flags of The Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia and everyone stood and started singing and waving. I obviously couldn’t relate to the song or that part of Armenia’s history, but I did stand up and waved as well 🙂

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All in all, the story behind KOHAR is beautiful and inspiring and the concerts perfectly reflect the devotion and passion of the people behind it. The performances are over this year but I will make sure to spread the word and encourage everyone to go watch KOHAR next year.

KOHAR was founded in 1997 as an independent musical and cultural institution by the Armenian culture patron, Harout Khatchadourian of Lebanon, who along with his brothers, Shahe and Nar Khatchadourian, entirely sustain the activities of KOHAR and all its concerts in tribute to their parents; in memory of their late father Aram and in Honor of their mother KOHAR.

Here are few pictures and a couple of short videos from the show:

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Butcher’s BBQ Joint: Soul Food In The Heart Of Mar Mikhael

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burger lamb Lamb-burger-ini; lamb patty topped with smoked brisket or smoked pulled pork

If you are looking for an authentic BBQ joint in Beirut, Butcher’s BBQ Joint in Mar Mikhael is the place to go. It’s a small and cozy place that serves mouth-watering “soul food” sandwiches, burgers and dishes. I’ve been there already 3 times and tasted almost everything on the menu. The Pulled pork sandwich, pork ribs and fried chicken with waffle topped by maple syrup are my favorites, the bacon is one of the best I’ve had in Lebanon, thick, crispy and really tasty, the Beef Brisket and Merguez burgers were good, I loved the green salad they offer as well as the sauces (try the butcher’s sauce and the gravy sauce) and the chocolate waffle dessert is a must-try. The only thing I didn’t like much were the fries to be honest.

maple Fried Chicken and Waffles with maple syrup.

Butcher’s BBQ Joint is perfect for a quick bite or a late night snack (before or after the party). Their Sunday brunch comes highly recommended but I’ve never tried it to be honest. They also serve a bacon-infused rum cocktail but I was never tempted to try it.

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When you go visit the first time, let the manager help you with the order. He’s very friendly and helpful. Prices are reasonable when compared to the portions and quality of food offered. Butcher’s BBQ Joint is located in Mar Mikhael next to Train Station and Secteur.

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Rating: 4/5