A Typically French Breeze: Villa Clara

Finally! We have a French chef in Lebanon for more than just a couple of months. Olivier Gougeon, ESCF-Ferrandi certified, has settled in a few years ago and is here to stay! After developing several projects such as Aziz, he has worked for over a year on developing his boutique hotel concept and has also opened its new restaurant.

You can come here for a very casual last minute drop in for proper French cuisine at any time of the day, or just for teatime around the Napoleon III chimney. Soon we will be looking for cozy places to snuggle up to a comfy couch and have a good old hot choc by the fire. My choice of Kusmi Jasmine tea was served in a beautiful Japanese teapot, as I listened to the list of homemade deserts like the chocolate mousse, floating islands, gauffres, or tarte tatin.

The Architect, Ramy Boutros, created the charming atmosphere of this old home from the 1920s, where you can find carefully chosen pieces such as couches from the French Senate, or a zinc bar also dating back to the 1920s. Mrs. Gougeon gathered old tiling from traditional Lebanese houses that were being destroyed to pave the beautiful flooring.

‘We wanted to create something that ‘looks’ like us: fresh food, reasonable pricing, a no-fuss atmosphere’ say the Gougeons. They go out of their way to source their products from different regions across the country and abroad: white milk fed veal from Laqlouq, bio salmon from Scottland, fresh mushrooms, cepes, morilles, from Rungis in France, free-range and corn-fed poulet fermier, fresh trout from Anjar.

As a starter, the soft chunky leaks delicious to the crunch are a must, cut en biais and covered with vinaigrette sauce, a feast for the eyes! As a main, the homemade tagliatelles, was made with fresh porcini caps straight from Bordeaux, a lightly seasoned olive oil sauce, with a touch of wild thyme and rosemary that he plants himself in his little garden. What I loved was that everything was delicately balanced.

The menu changes a bit depending on what our chef unearths at the market on the day. Here you will find it is a ‘cuisine de marché’ he explains. Gougeon also enjoys getting to know your tastes and preferences to come up with a special dish, just for you.

You will discover two outdoor areas, one for your cool hang-outs, and a separate  one for children, which is a small grass area with slides and toys, especially designed without steps or levels. Don’t forget to try your hand at the pétanque on the little field for a typically French drink!


Average price per person Terrace bistro corner: 25dollars, restaurant: 50dollars, French or Lebanese style brunch: 10-15 dollars all inclusive

Internet Access Yup!

Dress code Big time casual with a chic attitude

Contacts M: +961 70 995 739, P: +961 1 566 898

Location Mar Mikael, next to Badran gas station, go up khenchara street and you will find it on your right


Pictures: villaclara.fr