“The ultimate Lebanese dining experience awaits you.” Byblos Sur Mer
As Lebanese restaurants go there are none quite so stylish as the upscale two-storey Byblos Sur Mer located at the InterContinental Abu Dhabi. No expense was spared in the design of this contemporary 300-seat standalone waterfront restaurant where guests are transported to the coastal city of Byblos in Lebanon.
This low-lit fine-dining venue is undoubtedly the perfect place for a Lebanese culinary journey, creative Syrian Chef Raed has over fifteen years experience indulging his passion for cooking Arabic food. Chef Raed and his team offer diners an award winning menu encompassing a range of flavours with traditional hot and cold mezzeh, soups and salads, grills and marinades, Lebanese delicacies and desserts as well as freshly baked items from the on site Lebanese baker. As well as heading up the Byblos Sur Mer kitchen Raed also oversees all the Arabic menus at the hotel.
Warm bread straight from the oven, salads and Mezzah dishes that are designed to share are always a good way to start a meal. While we may have omitted the usual favourites of hummus, moutabal and kebbeh from our order in a bid to widen our horizons we couldn’t resist some fresh Tabouleh. My halloumi was grilled to perfection and not overly salty, the Kasbeh W Rouman, pan-fried chicken livers were served with sweet pomegranate molasses and the main dish was Masshab, was a large portion of flavoursome chargrilled chicken in vine leaves.
On this occasion I chose Raheb, tasty whole roasted eggplant with vegetables and apple cider vinegar, although I highly recommend my usual favourite, Aljami. An eggplant puree topped with fried eggplant, molasses and walnuts, so divine especially when eaten with some of the warm Arabic breads. My special request of Cheese Manakish was fulfilled even though it was not on the menu, I just had a little craving for this Arabic flat bread topped with cheese.
Full from our savoury selections we still, as always, had room for dessert. The obvious choice would be the Middle Eastern favourite dessert, Umm Ali (similar to bread pudding) but it’s good to branch out with some different choices. The rich and smooth giant fig and chocolate fondant served with toasted marshmallows on sticks was very indulgent but worth the wait, the oversized baklava filled with cream was delicious too. It’s always worth trying the Halawat El Jibin Bil Assal too, a delightful combination of Ashta cream, berries, mint and cashew nuts. You cannot fault the stunning presentation and flavours of the food and as I have discovered with all Middle Eastern cuisine the portion sizes are over generous, we had way too much food for two people even though we had ordered quite conservatively.
Byblos is a Mediterranean seaside city located in Mount Lebanon, one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world founded by the Phoenician civilisation and this chic restaurant pays homage to its country’s history in the design of building, its interior and cuisine. Reminiscent of a Lebanese mountain house, it has a charming atmosphere and exudes character with little historic touches such as the stylish teal and gold menus that feature ancient Phoenician men. Luxurious gold decor and sumptuous furniture, gorgeous floor lanterns, elaborate hanging light fixtures, ornamental shisha pipes and a wall dedicated to famous Lebanese entertainers all add to the vibe.
The ambiance was set by the live singers crooning a range of modern classics, on other evenings Byblos welcomes an Oud player who performs more traditional old-world style music. It may be an elegant fine dining establishment but it’s not in the least bit stuffy, everyone was friendly and accommodating. Smartly dressed servers are pleased to make recommendations and eager to encourage you to order many dishes as well as sample a selection of beverages.
Large Arabic style windows and a sweeping terrace affords guests a stunning panorama out across the waterfront, the hotel’s private beach club and marina as well as the skyline beyond. Byblos Sur Mer is an ideal place for sundowners followed by dinner and shisha, it’s popular with the capital’s more refined diners and foodies alike, its loyal and regular clientele is testament to its success. The elegance of this restaurant is perfectly offset against centuries old culture and cuisine that has been reinvented with a modern twist, a little glimpse of Lebanon right here in the capital. So what is Byblos Sur Mer’s secret? It has to be the passionate team who are proud of their heritage and cuisine, their enthusiasm to share their culture and give guests a memorable experience that is a perfect harmony of the old world embracing the new.
Byblos Sur Mer
Location: InterContinental Hotel Abu Dhabi
Telephone: 02 666 6888
Ramadan 2017 – Daily from sunset to 3:00am
Iftar (Daily from sunset until 8:30pm) AED 225* per person including Ramadan beverages – click here to see the Iftar menu
* Price is subject to 10% service charge, 6% tourism fee and 4% municipality fee
I was invited to review this restaurant on behalf of FACT Magazine. All the views are all my own. Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this page © Jo Brett 2017. All rights reserved. Additional photos used courtesy of www.intercontinental.com
An edited version of this article first appeared in FACT Abu Dhabi – June 2017
Read more about Byblos Sur Mer in previous posts Iftar at Byblos Sur Mer | Intercontinental Abu Dhabi, Aasrouniye | Byblos Sur Mer and First Look | Byblos Sur Mer