You know it as the lofty house perched on a hill. You remember it from your childhood as a special place where occasions are celebrated and stunning views of Jounieh Bay, Harissa, and the entire Keserwan mountainside can be inhaled as you tuck into a square-folded crepe.
La Crêperie has been a dining institution since 1968, serving up a selection of French fare with an emphasis on – you guessed it – crepes. After its extensive renovation and reopening in 2015, the eatery preserved its culinary character, continuing to dish out specialties regulars had for years sought out.
This summer, however, the restaurant garden is donning an identity of its own, transforming into a sanctuary dubbed Jnaynet La Crêperie where soft Fairuz tunes, eclectic Lebanese cuisine, and fresh-baked lavash-like tabbouné bread are the name of the game. While most of your mezza favorites can be found, from a tahini-rich hummus to spiced lahm baajin, you’re in for an adventure of twists on the Lebanese spread.
|Bread baked on premises around the clock: markouk and tabbouné|
The first thing you’ll notice are the resplendent plates channeling every hue in the color spectrum. With delicate rose petals gracing nearly every dish, the presentation appeals to the senses. A correct tabbouleh, a tangy fattouch, and a very lemony baby thyme salad will get the gastric juices flowing. Be sure to swipe pockets of bread laden with baba ghannouj in between bites of greens to temper the acidity. The inspired fruit cocktails also help (sip on mango-cherry or pomegranate).
|Baba ghannouj, or roasted eggplant pulp with tahini, crowned with pomegranate seeds|
If you’re fond of the sweet-salty yin-yang duo, try the stuffed grape leaves blanketed in a creamy raspberry sauce (10,500 LL). Not exactly enticing to visualize, but the execution truly astounds the palate with its velvety feel.
|Stuffed grape leaves smothered with raspberry sauce|
Riding on the tailcoats of that blend are the Kebbet el Sheikh, bulgur and meat hats brimming with meat, stewed cherries, toasted pine nuts, and fresh herbs (13,500 LL). Use a fork and knife so you don’t forego any element of this tantalizing assembly.
|Kebbet el Sheikh bulgur hats brimming with a medley of ingredients|
In the hot mezza category, don’t miss the minced meat pies on thin flatbread, as well as the arayess jebneh oozing with molten akkawi, halloumi, and cheddar cheeses sandwiched between sesame-studded Arabic bread pressed like a panini (9,000 LL).
|Minced meat pies aka lahm baajin|
|Cheese pita pocket, panini style (arayess jebneh)|
Fried cubes of potato tossed in garlic, cilantro, crushed red chili and roasted sesame emerge crispy on the surface with a pillowy flesh (7,500 LL). Taste these, and you’ll start to understand how overrated fries are.
|Lebanese patatas bravas: cilantro, garlic and sesame seeds form the garnish|
After a bit of a breather, it’s time to dive into dessert with Om Ali, the bread pudding of the Levant baked from puff pastry, cream, sultanas, pistachios, almonds and a hint of vanilla (12,000 LL). Served in a steel pan, this stuff’s like a decadent hot cereal you wouldn’t mind having morning, midday and night.
Yes, there’s arguileh. No, it doesn’t diminish from the overall grandeur of the outdoor space. In fact, you’ll be so bewitched by the vista before you, you will hardly heed the gentle murmur of conversation fluttering about you, let alone the little billows of smoke from the water pipes. A warning about mosquitoes, which often taint any terrace – they come out to play after sunset. So dress appropriately, unless pock marks are a fashion accessory in your wardrobe.
And stay tuned for the launch of the seasonal summer menu at elder sibling La Crêperie. The new chef has high expectations to live up to, but having proven his flair at Jnaynet, I think we’re in for a treat. Or shall I say un grand plaisir.
Open daily from noon to midnight