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Go gourmet this Christmas at restaurants around town
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BEIRUT: Christmas is a difficult season for those of us with poor time management. There are presents to buy, cards to mail, friends to visit, cookies to bake, decorations to hang. And last but certainly not least, after the living room has been turned into a wrapping paper graveyard, there will be a holiday feast to prepare. Here’s a rundown on what’s on offer at the city’s top hotel restos for families and couples giving themselves a vacation from the kitchen this Christmas.


This year the iconic Phoenicia Hotel in Ain al-Mreisseh is putting the emphasis on Christmas Eve, with a set six-course menu (LL149,000 per person) and live entertainment at its rooftop restaurant Eau De Vie Lounge Bar and Restaurant.

Eau De Vie offers a stunning view of Beirut’s high-end marina and commercial Downtown. The main course on the 2013 menu – if you can discern one – is lobster, braised beef and venison medallions. Sides and starters include a winter salad with maple vinaigrette, asparagus, mashed parsnips, roasted forest mushrooms, pepper and goat cheese tart, crispy duck confit, a cranberry amuse bouche and a sampler of desserts from Germany, Austria and France.

Soft drinks, juices and one glass of champagne are included.

Eau De Vie is also open Christmas Day for its regular a la carte menu.

Hilton Habtoor Grand

Sitting atop a steep hill in Horsh Tabet and overlooking Beirut, two of Hilton Habtoor’s eateries, Le Ciel and Venezia, are offering set menus Christmas Eve. Venezia, a high-end Italian restaurant, is offering a four-course set menu with open house wine ($65 per person), and up on the rooftop – with an objectively better view – Le Ciel has a similar offer ($75 per person).

On Christmas Day, Le Ciel is offering its annual Christmas buffet brunch ($45 per person), which staff at the restaurant said would be traditional international Christmas fare, including roasted turkey. There will also be entertainment and children’s activities.

Le Gray

Indigo on the Roof at Le Gray is planning a Christmas Eve set-menu dinner ($95 per adult, $42 per child) including soft drinks. A traditional Butterball turkey will take center stage, a member of the marketing department told The Daily Star.

Mains will also include lobster and Wagyu beef imported from the Australian Outback, veal medallion and langoustine. Appetizers include Scottish salmon and scallops, with bread pudding and buche de noel for dessert.

Regency Palace

For those looking to get out of the city, the Regency Palace Hotel is holding a Christmas Eve party and Christmas Day lunch. The traditional Lebanese restaurant Al-Sabil is hosting dinner ($50 per person) with a live band and dancing until 4 a.m.

For a calmer atmosphere, lunch will be served Christmas Day with a guest appearance from Santa Claus and a family-friendly menu ($50 per adult, $25 per child).

Le Vendome

For groups or families with pickier palettes, Sydney’s restaurant at Le Vendome is offering its standard a la carte menu with a few holiday caveats.

A special roast beef dish will be offered ($44 per plate) and the restaurant will put out a holiday dessert buffet ($20 per person).

A decorator recently gave Sydney’s a facelift with an emphasis on some Scottish tartan carpet. Cozy and festive, nothing says Christmas like red and green plaid decor.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on December 18, 2013, on page 2.
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