Dispatch From an F&W Editor On the Road - Beirut
Beirut is starting to feel like its old self. With its residents eager to resume the long, leisurely dinners they missed during the civil war and its messy aftermath, the city's restaurants are filling up again. On a recent trip, I made some new discoveries.
Abdel Wahab Restaurant The Lebanese specialties here—such as the fatte, made with grilled eggplant and layers of garlic-spiked yogurt—are some of the city's most outstanding (56 Abdel Wahab El Inglizi St.; 011-961-1-200-550).
Hotel Albergo Opened in 1998, this Relais & Châteaux hotel in a restored 1930s house in the Achrafieh district is Beirut's chicest—although the Four Seasons, which is rumored to be opening a property in the city in the near future, will likely give it some competition (doubles from $215; 137 Abdel Wahab El Inglizi St.; albergobeirut.com).
Massaya Winery People are starting to talk about Massaya, a small six-year-old winery in the Bekaa Valley, east of Beirut and the site of the ancient Roman temples of Baalbek. Massaya specializes in Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc blends, rosé and arak (the pastis-like Middle Eastern anise spirit), and it recently opened a weekend-only restaurant, Le Relais, serving dishes like chargrilled quail (011-961-3-735-795 or massaya.com).
Robert Mouawad Private Museum This small museum opened this past summer in an ornate mansion, formerly known as Pharaon Palace and now owned by Lebanese jeweler Robert Mouawad (his fans include Heidi Klum, who has designed items for him). The exquisitely curated collection of rare, well-preserved pieces consists of tiles, medieval Islamic pottery and Turkish kilims (Army Road, Zokak-el-Blat district; 011-961-1-980-970).
Tamaris Megastar chef Alain Ducasse has arrived in downtown Beirut. Last year he teamed up with local confectioner Patchi to create a dessert restaurant serving macaroons in a variety of flavors (Patchi Building, Weygand St.; 011-961-1-996-500).