Along with our new best friend Jennifer, from the Vendome PR team we enjoyed a lovely girly meal, chatting while sipping wine and sharing the plates of food. Sydney’s is currently the only restaurant at Vendome but later this year La Petite Maison will open downstairs serving simple and delicious French cuisine.
It was early evening (everyone eats later in Lebanon) and the restaurant was eerily quiet. The most striking feature of this restaurant is its epic panoramic view which spans the whole venue. A few Beirut boys had mentioned it as their favourite ‘date’ location in the city! It is easy to gaze out of the window and get lost in your thoughts, but we had food to eat and gossip to share, so I resisted daydreaming. It is a luxurious and homely environment, the lounge is kitted out with comfy armchairs and tables – a calm place to indulge in an evening cigar. Sydney’s seems like the ideal venue for a meal anytime of the day with friendly accommodating staff and quick service; it is an enjoyable and relaxing place to dine.
The menu offers a selection of continental style food, it was a shame not to see more Lebanese inspired cuisine, a style of food I have grown quite attached to. We were brought homemade ultra thin potato crisps and dips to nibble on, all very moreish, whetting our appetite for the meal to come. Knowing the menu and its assets well, Jennifer advised us on the most popular dishes. I love Lebanese wine and the white we were offered was perfect, crisp and light and very drinkable – it accompanied our meal perfectly.
We started with the homemade foie gras made from duck liver and goat’s cheese and fig salad. I am not a big foie gras fan and found it too rich and sadly too oleaginous to enjoy. The salad was a lovely light and fresh first course, a combination of sweet and savoury ingredients that married well together. The vibrant contrast of dried figs and vinegary sweet dressing was delicious with very fresh crunchy leaves and lovely soft cheese that I would have liked a bit more of!
We chose Italian style mains: and found that the ravioli and risotto was enough to provide for the three of us. Both were wonderful, the rice laced with fresh basil and other herbs and really accentuating the lively Mediterranean vibe. I am highly critical of ravioli as it is my favourite food, and the recipe at Sydney’s was very appealing. Ricotta and Spinach filled pasta with a light and subtle tomato sauce, sprinkled in parmesan. The pasta was cooked perfectly and I was appreciative of the sauce which had clearly been made with whole cherry tomatoes rather than the easier tinned.
The speciality basil pesto risotto was very simple and classic: I never order risotto, usually finding it too heavy but this recipe was delicious and I could have easily started on a second portion! The Vendome clearly understand that over-complicating Italian food can ruin it and here the high quality ingredients were left to shine.
Desserts are offered first on a platter, so you can look and pick which takes your fancy… an absolutely brilliant idea I thought… although if your eyes dictate your eating, it could be dangerous as they all look so good. Eager and greedy, I actually tried to lift my chosen puddings off the tray not realising that the waiter would bring us new fresh portions! The Baba au Rhum was divine… flavoured subtly with rum – it was melt in the mouth soft and oozing with sugary sauce. Our second dessert was the Sydney’s Tiramisu which looked too enticing on the tray not to try. Light but lavish with dollops of fresh whipped cream, coffee-soaked sponge and chocolate – we scoffed it down in minutes.
Sydney’s provides guests at the Vendome with a charming restaurant for every meal of the day. The food isn’t show-offy, but the setting is and for an evening meal with friends, it is a lovely place to eat and admire the breathtaking views of the Mediterranean.
Visit the website for more information here.
Thoroughly Modern Milly travelled with bmi, British Midland International. British Midland International flies direct from London Heathrow to Beirut offering ten flights per week. Flights are twice daily on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays with a daily service on all other days. Fares are available from £485 return including all taxes and charges. For more information and to book visit www.flybmi.com