There are few restaurants as transporting as Liza, a contemporary Lebanese establishment adding stylish flair to one of the oldest districts of Beirut, Achrafieh.
Housed within the former Abdallah Bustros Palace – a 19th century villa which once belonged to a branch of Beirut’s aristocratic Bustros famiily – Liza’s location is in itself symbolic of the timeless beauty it emulates, harking back to the grace of a bygone era whence Beirut was known as the Paris of The Middle East.
Much thought has been given to the interiors here, with Maria Ousseimi’s details curated to marry old Beirut with a whimsical vision of the modern-day reality of a city channelling chaos and cosmopolitan changes.
Bespoke wallpapers – fashioned by Italian-born artist Idarica Gazzoni – are a creative highlight, lending an individual personality to each of the capacious rooms basking in natural sunlight. The thematic aesthetics run from crowded cityscapes and vintage banknotes to banana leaves! The bar bears mentioning here as well, it’s marble-drenched texture a polished canvas for showing off shinier touches including brass and vintage mirrors.
The juxtapositions continue with the contrasting composition of the crowded tables, with the genteel chatter of chi chi locals matched by the raucous enthusiasm of visitors gearing up for a high-octane weekend in the ultimate party city of The Middle East.
Just as you might expect, the menu champions a contemporary reimagining of classic Lebanese dishes too, served with authentic simplicity.
There’s a particularly sumptuous selection of mezze, liberally-apportioned and featuring all our favourites from Labne (creamy curd elevated by hints of dried mint and thyme) to Tabboulet and Fattouche (the staple Lebanese salad is set apart here by pita chips sheathed with spiced sumac). From the signature dishes, R.R.M. plumps for the sea bass. It arrives cooked to a tender perfection on a bed of black rice, luxuriating in the subtle sweetness of crisp and caramelised onions. A strong kick of coffee is in order after, to stir us from the languid haze that inevitably follows.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, perhaps I should leave it to the visual memories of a spellbinding afternoon to recreate the magic of Liza. Truth be told, the enchanting experience is reason alone for epicures to visit the captivating capital of Lebanon.
Liza, Metropolitan Club, Doumani Street, Trabaud, Ashrafieh, Beirut District | https://lizabeirut.com/ | Opening Hours: Daily, 12-3:30PM; 8-11:30PM