Category Archives: Reviews

Go Watch Venus Play By Jacques Maroun (Rated 18+)

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venus1 Picture via Charbel Saadeh

To be honest, I’m not a big fan of plays and the ones I’ve seen in Lebanon so far were truly disappointing, but I finally managed to convince a group of friends to join me in watching Venus after repeatedly hearing positive feedback about it and I’m glad I did! Venus is an absolutely brilliant play and it was extended for 10 more days due to an overwhelming popular demand.

Here’s my review, and please bare with me as it’s the first time I review a play:

The Lebanese adaptation by Lina Khoury and Grabriel Yammine of David Ives’ broadway success “Venus in Fur” – the play is in colloquial Lebanese Arabic – turned out to be a hit under the direction of Jacques Maroun. Rita Hayek and Badih Abou Chakra – the only two actors in the play – mesmerized the audience with their impeccable acting. Although some conservative minds might be offended by the audacity of the actors and their indecent exposure, this is what exactly goes to show that they offered themselves unconditionally. The play itself includes direct references to the novel “Venus in Furs” by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch. Just like the term sadism was coined after the notorious Marquis de Sade, the term masochism was named after Sacher-Masoch. Although the theme is not superficial, the play is filled with humor which provoked many bursts of laughter by the audience throughout the one hour and a half performance.

If you’re open minded and you would like to try to understand the psychological need of being dominated or dominating – or even dominating while acting like you are dominated –, then you should definitely go watch this play.‎ You will definitely enjoy watching reality and fantasy as they intertwine. On a last note, I want to applaud Jacques Maroun and everyone who took part in this play for being brave enough to come up with such a play in Lebanon, and for placing the woman in a dominant power role in an attempt to defy society’s gender stereotypes.

Venus is showing from Thursday May 7th 2015 to Sunday May 17th 2015 at Babel theater. You can buy tickets on [Virgin Ticketing Box Office].


Rating: 4/5

Smoking Bun Mar Mikhael: A Joy To Any Burger Lover

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Back when I was in Berlin a couple of years ago, a friend took me to a burger place called Burgermeister located in a tiny street underneath a bridge. The place, previously a public toilet, wasn’t very appealing but it had one of the best burgers I’ve ever had in my life. The meat was perfectly cooked and juicy, the bun was a bit grilled and tasted great, the fries and toppings were amazing and the price was ridiculously low (7 Euros).

I think Smoking Bun is the closest thing to Burgermeister in Beirut, and it is by far the best street burger place that I’ve been to in Beirut, and in Mar Mikhail more specifically. Smoking Bun is located underneath Secteur in the middle of Mar Mikhail and is a small shop that only offers one burger. It’s small, simple, relatively cheap but its burger is fantastic and the fries are great as well. The meat is cooked medium (medium rare if you want to) and is covered with aged cheddar, the bun is tender and holds up nicely to the burger’s juices and it’s all topped with lettuce, tomato and pickles. The fries are not-too-crispy not-too-soft and come with a house sauce.

Smoking Bun is street food done right and my favorite burger in Mar Mikhael right now (and I’ve tried most of them there). The burger costs 12,000LL, the fries 5,000LL, beer is for 7,500LL and soda for 3,000LL.







Rating 4.5/5

La Crêperie Kaslik Is Back!

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Ever since I posted sneak peek pictures of the newly renovated La Crêperie, a lot of people have been asking me about La Crêperie’s official opening date, and whether the menu and venue have changed drastically. Luckily enough, I was among the few invited to check out La Crêperie last Sunday and taste the new menu before the official opening which is scheduled for April 28th, so I’m gonna tell you everything you need to know in this post and show you how awesome the new restaurant is.

For those of you who don’t know La Creperie yet, it’s is one of Lebanon’s most authentic and beautiful restaurants and has been serving great food since 1968. The restaurant is an 18th Century Picturesque Ottoman House that offers a breathtaking view across the Jounieh bay and has welcomed several celebrities, presidents, ministers and diplomats. It’s an ideal place for family gatherings, couples, first dates, romantic dinners and events.

So what’s new at La Crêperie?
La Crêperie’s renovation kicked off almost two years ago and was completed a few weeks back. The main purpose was to ensure authenticity of the architecture and to keep the spirit of the place while reinforcing the worn out walls and foundations. Add to that the beautiful landscaping. To begin with, the restaurant’s entrance and parking lot were both enhanced to fit more cars and you are now greeted by a 1000-year old olive tree set right before La Creperie’s entrance. As you walk into the restaurant, you are surrounded by walls of hanging jasmine flowers that lead right to the restaurant’s terrace and main door.

As soon as you step inside, you notice how spacious the new place has become. The big old wooden bar is now gone and was replaced by an open bar in the middle of the restaurant. The paintings on the ceiling were also removed but the tiles as well as the tables and chairs look almost the same as before. The main room is now connected to all others and there are preserved butterflies displayed in glass frames are all the walls. The old chimney room kept its warm feel and looks amazing now.

20150419_212432 A Walk Down Memory Lane





As far as the balcony is concerned, it’s much wider now and extends to the outdoor terrace and the chimney room on the other end of the house. The old railings were replaced by glass ones and the small tables and chairs by comfy couches and low tables. I have to admit I’m gonna miss the simpler tiny balcony with the small chairs and tables but at least this way, more people will get to enjoy the splendid views across the Jounieh bay. The caves were also revamped and I had a quick look at them but I’m not sure if they will be open next week as well.

Moving on to the most important part which is the food, the menu has few additional items but is very similar to the old one and still has some of the restaurant’s popular dishes (like the poussin desossé, crepe fait maison etc). Speaking of crepes, and this is great news, the same old women who were at Creperie are back and they’re doing the same amazing crepes!

What’s in the menu?
The menu consists of Salads and Appetizers, Pastas, Meat & Chicken, Fish and desserts.

The salads and appetizers include: a nicoise salad, goat-cheese salad, fresh mozzarella with tomatoes, Quinoa halloumi, Chicken Caesar salad, grilled calamari, smoked salmon, frogs a la provencale and bresaola with parmesan. There are 3 types of pastas, the Tagliatelle Alfredo, the Linguine Fruit de Mer and Penne Sauce Tomate. Steaks and Chicken platters include a filet de boeuf, steak frites, cote de boeuf, entrecote, escalope, tartate de boeuf, home-made burger, chicken escalope a la milanaise and a grilled chicken platter. For the sea-food lovers, there’s a seabass platter, grilled salmon, prawns and two mérou platters. Last but not least, the long list of desserts includes the traditional Baba au rhum, Tarte tatin with vanilla icecream, a cheese cake, tiramisu, chocolat fondant, creme brulee, tarte au chocolate, eclair au chocolat, poire belle Helene, salade de fruits, mille-feuille, icecream and sorbets, and the pain perdu.

Here’s what we ordered and some pictures:

Salads And Appetizers:
– Salade Nicoise a la vinaigrette de vin blanc.
– Salade de chevre chaud, sauce balsamique au miel.
– Salade de tomates, Mozzarella fraiche.
– Quinoa au Halloumi, sauce citron.
– Saumon fume ecossais et son toast.

– Filet de boeuf, haricots verts et carottes, pommes puree.
– Cote de boeuf grille pour deux, pommes au four.
– Pave de saumon, pommes rustiques.
– Crepe fait maison (Jambon, Fromage, Champignon)

– Creme brulee aux gousses de vanille.
– Poire Belle Helene.
– 2 Crepe Marron.
– 1 Crepe Chocolat Noir.
– Baba au rhum

As for drinks, we had a Beaujolais-villages 2012 red wine bottle.

20150419_215851 Salade Nicoise a la vinaigrette de vin blanc

20150419_220033 Quinoa au Halloumi, sauce citron


20150419_221559 Crepe fait maison (Jambon, Fromage, Champignon)

20150419_223834 Pave de saumon, pommes rustiques.

20150419_223921 Cote de boeuf

20150419_230627 Crepes in the making.

20150419_231627 The famous Crepe Marron (sweet chestnut cream)

20150419_232042 Poire Belle Helene.

20150419_232409 Creme brulee aux gousses de vanille.

I enjoyed the salads and loved the quinoa. The salmon and mozzarellah were fresh, the steak and vegetables were great, the crepe fait maison was ok, the salmon was good and the desserts were all amazing! I ordered twice the crepe marron (topped with jam) and I highly recommend the Poire Belle Helene! The pain perdu wasn’t available yet so I will try it next time hopefully. All in all, it was a pleasant experience and I loved how simple the food presentation is and how much the new place reminded me of the old one. The new Crêperie has managed to keep the authenticity and originality of the old one with few changes and brought back a lot of memories from the old times.

Price-wise, the menu didn’t have any prices yet but from what I’ve been told, they haven’t change much and the price range will be around 35-50$ per person. La Crêperie will officially open on Tuesday 28th of April 2015. You can contact them on +96171202022. Here’s a link to their [website] and [Instagram] page.

Rating: 4.5/5

Go Watch Fast & Furious 7!

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ff7 via walkwidehd

I missed out on Fast & Furious 7’s avant-premiere but I finally got to watch it yesterday and I absolutely loved it. To be honest, I was expecting to get bored at some time because I heard it’s too long and laugh at all the fake scenes and flying cars, but the movie was exciting and captivating the whole way through, the ridiculousness of the action scenes was entertaining in itself and the best part for me was the emotional ending and the great tribute to Paul Walker.

The scene I loved the most was the one on the mountain as I felt like I was in a Need For Speed race, and the scenes shot in Abu Dhabi are pretty impressive to say the least. Funnily enough, the Lykan Hypersport flying from one tower to the other was more realistic or should I say less fake than most of the other scene and car chases, but it was a great scene even though I wanted to see that super-car race on the ground. There’s one thing I didn’t appreciate in Abu Dhabi and Colorado which is how the scenes are cut and how we move from one place to another without understanding what happened or how they managed to get away. Speaking of Abu Dhabi, what’s up with the hot babes and extravagant parties? Is that really what goes on there?

In terms of acting, I was worried that Jason Statham (Deckard Shaw) might ruin the series but he turned out to be a fine addition and the cars they chose for me were just perfect, specially the 2015 Maserati Quattroporte. Otherwise, Vin Diesel was good, Roman Pearce and Tej Parker are hilarious, Kurt Russel is cool but looks really old, Letty Ortiz was a bit boring unlike the new girl Ramsey. Paul Walker was still my favorite actor among the gang and he will truly missed.

All in all, Fast & Furious 7 defies all the laws of physics but it’s thrilling and fun and Walker’s final tribute is a genuine and touching one. I never thought I’d be saying that, but I can’t wait for the next one!

Rating: 4/5

Review: Yeh! Frozen Yogurt Café

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Update: One of Yeh!’s owners commented on Facebook stating that they offer different flavors every week and have in total 43 different flavors, so I guess it just happened that they didn’t have any fruit flavors when I passed by. I will make another visit and try out their crepes and waffles as well.

I’ve been hearing about this Yeh! Frozen Yogurt Cafe for the past few weeks now, so I decided to go check it out on Saturday. Yeh! is located in Kantari Beirut right next to Aziz shop. There’s no place to park in front of the shop so you have to give it to the valet or do what I did and head to the nearest parking which is right behind the building and a 4 minutes walk from the shop.


The place was half full when I went there and I decided to sit inside as it was too noisy outside. One of the waiters welcomed us, explained the concept briefly and asked if we wanted to try any of the flavors. Yeh! is a self-serve frozen yogurt concept where you fill up your cup with all the flavors available, then add all the toppings you want and then you pay for your “froyo” in weight. 1kg (everything combined) is priced at 46,000LL which is definitely not cheap.


I went to check out the different flavors and there were 8 available:
– Pineapple
– Cake Batter
– Nutella
– Oreo
– Lotus
– Original flavor
– Peanut butter
– Greek Honey


What caught my attention at first was that there were no fruit flavors except for the Pineapple. I looked up the website and there are tons of flavors there, so I’m guessing they will be bringing more flavors later on but they should have brought more than 1 fruit flavor in my opinion.

As for the flavors available, I loved the Oreo, Lotus, peanut butter and Nutella the most. Greek Honey was ok but I didn’t like cake batter. I added fruits mostly on top and ended up with 540g of yogurt which cost me around 25,000LL.


All in all, I am not big a fan of the self-service shops as you always end up putting more of one flavor by pressing a bit harder, and I remember having a bad experience with that at Yogen Fruz (which I didn’t like) at Le Mall Dbayyeh. Nevertheless, Yeh! flavors are quick good and it’s definitely worth a try if you are a frozen yogurt fan.

Is it better than Pinkberry?

I don’t think it’s fair to compare it at this point as most of Pinkberry’s flavors are fruity while Yeh! only had pineapple, but Pinkberry’s original and chocolate flavors are better than Yeh! and I still prefer Pinkberry’s concept to the self-serve one. Price-wise, they are both expensive.

Rating: 4/5

Le Bristol’s Sunday Buffet At Achrafieh’s Splendid Villa Linda Sursock

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Le Bristol‘s Sunday buffet has been known for years as one of the best buffets in Beirut and is recently being held at Villa Linda Sursock in Achrafieh as the hotel is closed down since 2012 for renovation. The only other Sunday buffet I’ve tried in Beirut so far was the Phoenicia hotel one so I was interested to see how different and special this one is.

linda via panoramio

To begin with, Villa Linda Sursock is probably the best venue they could have chosen for their famous buffet. The gorgeous villa is located on Sursock Street, a relatively calm street, and is one of Beirut’s historic landmarks. I’ve been there several times for events and I’m in love with that villa! Here’s an old picture showing the villa from outside. In recent years, a skyscraper was built right next to the villa with a small part of the building right on top of it. Even though the skyscraper is really nice, I wish they had kept the house by itself with surrounding gardens.


Moving on to the buffet, the tables are set in the big hall inside the villa that you can see in the first picture and the food is in a separate room. Once you get in, you are greeted by a hostess then seated by one of the waiters. Afterwards, you’re handed a large alcohol selection and served a small plate of mini Cheese, Kecheck and Zaatar Saj Manakish.



Once we sat down and chose a wine bottle, we headed to the room where the buffet is. There’s a bit of history in every single spot in that villa and the setting for the buffet is just beautiful around the chimney. A large table is set in the middle with all the hot and cold dishes, while desserts are around it with a large fruit salad bowl right next to the chimney in the middle. There’s also a small table on the far left next to the windows for the cheese lovers and an Entrecote station on the side as well.



There are 3 or 4 chefs ready to help you and guide you through Bristol’s signature dishes. Almost every dish is a special one and I made sure to have a small portion of each to try them all out. Starting with the cold dishes, I tried the following ones:
– Lentil with salmon salad
– Spring Rolls
– Rocket leaves with fresh mushroom and Parmesan
– Quinoa with guacamole and shrimps
– Artichoke with green beans
– Goat cheese cake with cherry tomatoes

The Lentil with Salmon was surprisingly good, the spring rolls and rocket leaves salad were nothing special but fresh and tasty. The two dishes I loved the most were the Quinoa with shrimps and the goat cheese cake with cherry tomatoes.



As for the hot dishes, they had:
– Kebbe Arnabiyye
– Siyyadiyye
– Curry Shrimps
– Raviolli with spinach
– Chicken with berries

I hate the Kebbe Arnabiyye so I didn’t bother taste it and I don’t eat Carri so I skipped that as well. The Siyadiyye, Raviolli and Chicken dishes were all really good specially the chicken dish. Their entrecote was really good specially with the steamed veggies and potatoes but the sauce should have been a bit hotter.


Moving on to my favorite part the dessert, I wish I had started with it as almost everything I tasted was amazing. I loved how they made the Karabij in forms of sticks (easier to dip), the mafrouke was really good, the profiterole, the macarons, the mini cakes, it was the perfect ending to a great buffet.



All in all, I don’t think it’s fair to compare this buffet to the Phoenicia one as they are totally different. Le Bristol’s buffet is a small cozy one where you get to try out signature dishes and the famous gourmandises du Bristol while Phoenicia’s buffet offers a large variety of dishes, which I prefer from time to time. One thing is for sure, both are great buffets and I recommend you try out both of them, specially that the service is impeccable and the waiters are extremely friendly and helpful.

Price-wise, it’s around 65$ per person without the drinks.

PS: For your reservations, call 03-500622.

Rating: 4.5/5

Review: The Fifty Boring Shades of Grey

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Before you read the review, note that I’ve never read the Fifty Shades books and I probably won’t so I don’t know much about the story except the stuff I hear from friends who are obsessed with Mr.Grey and online articles and memes about it. This being said, I was expecting to watch an erotic romance story which wasn’t the case. The movie was more of a twisted romantic story between a weird rich dude and some college graduate, and it didn’t include that many sex scenes and barely any scene involving bondage and stuff. I am not saying I was eager to watch some BDSM activity but I expected to see more of it based on what I’ve read and heard. Moreover, this whole Mr Dominant thing is quite misleading as Christian Grey is confusing and not as much in control as you’d think he is.

Overall, the movie is dull and is more like a story that never really picks up. The two things I appreciated were Dakota Johnson (Anastasia “Ana” Steele) who’s really hot, and the soundtrack which is quite good. I expect the second part to be less boring so let’s wait and see.

As far as censorship is concerned, the movie is supposed to be 125 minutes but I felt it was a bit shorter than that. I think there are a couple of cut scenes but I can’t confirm that.


What’s So Controversial About “American Sniper”?

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I finally got to watch American Sniper yesterday and I don’t understand the controversy over it. Clint Eastwood’s Oscar-nominated movie tells the story of Chris Kyle, a Texan marksman who has become the most lethal sniper in US military history and portrays what an American sniper goes through during war. The movie may seem like an American propaganda for some and a tribute to American heroes by others, but there’s nothing really controversial about an American director bragging about US troops specially those who fought in Iraq.

If people were annoyed with the first scene where Chris Kyle kills a woman and a child trying to attack an army convoy, there’s another scene where Kyle is begging another kid to drop the RPG so he doesn’t have to shoot him. There’s no doubt that US troops killed innocent civilians in Iraq and that the US intervention in Iraq was a complete mess, but let’s not forget how terrorists are using kids and women to attack soldiers as well. Two days ago, I read an article on how ISIS militants are using “mentally challenged children as suicide bombers”.

Funnily enough, the only thing that surprised me was how highly rated the movie is as I didn’t think it was that good. The story is cool but the fight scenes are real quick and I got bored at some point. It’s probably Michael Moore’s tweet that made American Sniper the boxoffice phenomenon of 2015 so far.

Rating: 3.5/5

I Watched Birdman And I’m Speechless

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birdman A Lebanon-edition poster for Birdman

My cousin called me yesterday to see if I wanted to go watch Birdman with him. I told him I’ve already seen the movie but I am not sure if I liked it or not. He laughed at first but when he finished watching it, he replied back that he got the same feeling. Birdman is a strange, beautiful and unique black comedy. It’s a movie you’d want to watch 2 or 3 times just to make sure you didn’t miss anything, and where you have to let your imagination take over. The ending is also surprising and superb. Funnily enough, the only character standing between delusion and reality is Zach Galifianakis (Jake).

In all cases, even if you didn’t like the plot, you can’t but appreciate the outstanding performance and impressive acting of Michael Keaton and Edward Norton in the movie. I am planning to watch it a second time this coming weekend.

Rating: 4/5

Inside O1NE Beirut By SKYBAR: Lebanon’s Hottest Night-Life Venue In Winter

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If Skybar is the place to be during summer in Lebanon, O1NE Beirut is the best place to party during winter. What started out as a huge pink round building was transformed into a true artistic landmark for Lebanon and the region. Talented graffiti artists from all over the world came to Lebanon to interpret the theme of music on the 3,000 sqm wall and the outcome is an awesome venue featuring the world’s largest privately owned graffiti wall.


As for the interior, O1NE consists of blank white walls that come to life at night with 3D video mapping all over them. It was very difficult to visualize the interior when my friend at Skybar explained it to me, but once I was inside, the first thing that caught my attention was the beautiful interior and how it takes you from one mood to another throughout the night. The music and the 3D Mapping synced in a beautiful way that I haven’t seen anywhere in a night club before and everyone can see the mappings as they cover the full 360 degrees.


O1NE is very spacious inside and even though I was with a group of 20 people that night, we never felt that squeezed or uncomfortable. Of course it got more and more crowded as the night progressed but it was relatively ok when compared to SKYBAR’s nights where you could barely move. Towards the end of the night, I went up to the DJ’s booth that overlooked the venue and it was pretty cool from up there. My contact at Skybar told me that there are plans to build private rooms with balconies overlooking the club in Beirut just like O1NE Abu Dhabi, which would be pretty cool but I don’t know when it will happen.

As far as the music is concerned, O1NE plays all genres of house music and has been bringing hot performers every week. Last weekend Jamie Jones was playing his sets and this week, it’s gonna get hotter with Luciano on Friday night and DJ Magnum on Saturday. Price-wise, we ended up paying around 65$ per person that night which is a very reasonable price.


O1NE Beirut is located in Downtown Beirut right on Biel’s entrance. You can call 70 939 191 to book your table and make sure to check their Facebook page as they keep posting updates there.


Rating: 4.5/5