Basma: A Taste of Lebanese Tradition with a Contemporary Twist

As I was driving down Charles Malek Avenue in Ashrafieh, I couldn’t help but notice a beautiful and recently renovated architectural heritage; and since the charm of old Beirut houses always captivates me, I simply had to find out what that place is. I noticed the sign read Basma, which means “smile” in Arabic.

A few nights later, some friends and I decided to try out this new place. Upon entering, we walked into a spacious covered terrace which was ideal considering the weather; so we were all a bit disappointed for having reserved indoors. As soon as we entered the restaurant, my feeling of disappointment was replaced by relief! The restaurant’s interior was just as charming as its beautiful exterior architecture. It felt like I had just walked into a pre-war Beirut in the very early 1900’s.
Just as the restaurant’s name connoted, we were greeted with smiles and ushered to our tables; typical of Lebanese hospitality. Upon being seated, I looked around me and admired the chandeliers, the old windows, and the floor tile; I had officially escaped 2010 for a couple of hours.

Our waiter was very friendly and helped in explaining the twists and special touches regarding several items on the menu. He also insisted that we order specific dishes that we were hesitant about because of their bizarre names (and I’m glad he did).

There was no delay in serving our food, and it tasted terrific! Aside to being a fan of Lebanese cuisine, I couldn’t help but try Basma’s version of it; there was a special twist on almost everything, including the way they served the Arak. My personal favorite is the scrumptious “Fraket Emm Barhoum”; it is kibbi, made according to Emm Barhoum’s secret recipe. Kibbi lovers everywhere simply must try it! I also loved the “Hummus Basma”, which is your typical hummus, made with a delicious Basma twist. Another good item on the menu is the “Batata Har’oussa bel Kezebra w Toum”.
The rest of the mezzé is great and worth trying; and although the grilled meat was a bit dry, it was still very good. The most important thing is that you leave room for dessert.
My personal favorite is the “Tarte Teffah bel Debs” (apple tart); you cannot leave without trying this. Other great desserts are the mouthwatering “riz b-haleeb” (riz au lait), which is topped with caramelized sugar, and the “Mwashah ma3 el halawa” (gateau glacé au halvah) which my friends loved.

I was pleasantly surprised with the bill; including tips, it ranges between 25 and 30 USD per person. The ambiance is also very casual, and I am always pleased to find restaurants where you can dress casually, not pay a lot, and still get to eat good food.

All in all, it was a lovely evening with good friends and funny “Abu El Abed” jokes; and I recommend every Lebanese cuisine fan to try it out.
I love how the restaurant’s concept mixes Lebanese tradition with a modern touch, and it is evident in its food and its décor.
It’s a place to have dinner and lose track of time with a fun group of friends or to have lunch and reminisce about good memories with family members.

Rating: 4/5

For reservation:  +961 1 326 327

If you have been to Basma, please leave a comment on the page, letting us know how your experience was and you think the venue can improve.