SET UP & SITE
I first ate at Beirut in September last year, at a special meal for all five flatmates that we enjoyed so thoroughly we still talk about it. I had no idea Beirut did brunch, and so glad I found out they do. I went on a rainy Wednesday morning, taking an eager flatmate with me to the small barn-like (if a barn was all dark wood and glamour) bar section that is open for breakfast.
SUSTENANCE & SWILL
"This actually smells like Palestine," my Palestinian friend said as our za'atar with soft-boiled egg, parsley, lemon oil chickpea and flatbread ($10) was delivered to the table. It smelled like thyme and toasted sesame seeds. A soft-boiled egg split in half sat on a bed of something pureed (I forgot to ask what) and a smattering of crispy chickpeas, generously sprinkled with dark green za'atar spice mix. It tasted earthy from the parsley and slightly tangy from the lemon oil and was completely delicious. Nothing could compare, however, to the smoked yoghurt labna with fava bean falafel, fennel, olives and fried flatbread ($12). I could write a love poem in honour of this thick, creamy, delicately sweet labna and its complex smoky flavour. Served in a bowl and dotted with crunchy falafel and strikingly sugary olives (I asked - they're pickled in a sweet brine), this is labna as it should be: the star of the dish with a yoghurt to bread ratio of three to one - not smeared on the plate next to your meal like an attractive afterthought. Next came the freekeh with caramelised milk and lavender, baklava and plum ($8) however, despite its beautiful presentation it was essentially just porridge and a little underwhelming.
SERVICE & OTHER STUFF
Considering Beirut's reputation, I couldn't quite believe the price of its breakfast dishes. Sitting around the $10 mark, these easily shareable dishes make for an extremely reasonably priced meal out and offer something altogether different and more exciting than your usual brunch fare. On top of that, the dishes really fill you up. As we ordered, I was already planning to finish my meal with a second coffee and one of the counter treats, perhaps a rosewater custard filo roll with pistachio ($4). By the time we'd polished off our three dishes I couldn't fit in another bite.