There’s little left in central Beirut that predates the city’s second Renaissance. Since the early 90s, much of what the city was has been ground up, mowed down and ground under to make room for new development, new architecture; a new city superimposed over the old. Yet every once in a while, in a hidden corner or quiet alcove, you find an exception to this rule. Roomers, the recently owned Bar, Restaurant and Lounge, is one of these.
Walk into the dimly lit interior and immediately you are transported back in time to an age of classic elegance. Beyond the ample entryway and arched doorwats you find yourself in a high-ceilinged salon, a snapshot from the pre-war period French style. This is certainly no coincidence. The house itself is an original, preserved through time and finally renovated by the lounge’s ownership.
“We haven’t changed a thing,” says Walid, who, along with his brother, own and operate the lounge. “The doorways, rooms and architecture are as they were. We saw no reason to improve – instead, we kept the original design but adapted it to our and our clients’ needs.”
The restaurant’s layout is highly novel, spacious but private. True to its name, it is broken up into a series of chambers surrounding the central foyer and bar, each with a different color scheme, capable of hosting up to twenty guests. The bar is the only part of the restaurant that feels intentionally avant-garde, with jet-black countertops and a strong jazz lounge feel.
Walid stresses that the venue is a lounge first, a restaurant second. “We want our guests to feel at home, comfortable,” he says. “This is a place you come to relax. You can eat at the bar, at a table, whatever you want.”
The cuisine, however, is anything but casual. Prepared on-site it is a fusion of French, pan-European and international, all with a Lebanese twist. The ingredients are rich and fresh – the flavors titillate the taste buds.
Steak, fish, shrimp and vegetables blend in electrifying harmony, mingling with subtle sauces and dips. Presentation is not lacking either, with each signiature dish presented on a unique style of serving platter. A luscious decanter of local wine compliments the meal.
The cocktails make a stunning compliment to the cuisine, many of them prepared on-site by the lounge’s talented bartender. When asked about the name of one fruit-filled cocktail, he simply shrugs. “I made it up,” he says, adding with a wink, “just for you.”
Check out your surprise when you visit!