On the top floor of the pristine Nations Galleria, with a terrace overlooking the blue waters of the Corniche, Wafi Gourmet qualifies as situated on nothing less than some of the moat prime real estate in the city. The glamorous food hall is calmly buzzing as preparations are on for the evening’s diners, while shoppers stroll the window cases, pointing out exactly how much they want packaged up for taking home to their families and friends. The tempting smells of grilled meats and freshly baked pita waft into the air as we choose a table where we can experience the outdoor terrace. We are so close to the ocean that you can smell the gentle sea breeze.
Wafi Gourmet specializes in high-end Lebanese food, without the pretention. You won’t find white tablecloths, but you also won’t find an added 10% service charge. You will however find some of the best Lebanese food that you have ever tasted. (Not to overlook Wafi’s very highly rated selection of Moroccan tagines, all of which are made completely in house by a charming Moroccan chef.) Within moments of sitting down, order the hummus. You will be brought the most smooth, thick and creamy hummus that you have ever seen. With its bright tang of acidity, a thick drizzle of fruity olive oil, and those soft, hot out of the stone-oven pitas, you will feel completely content, while yet your journey has only just begun.
The array of cold and hot mezze is extensive, covering all of the traditional staples and all executed with great care. In fact, Wafi only makes enough product for each day so that everything is always eaten fresh. The hot crispy potatoes were a favorite, fried just enough to create the unfortunately rare, crunchy exterior and soft, warm interior that you always hope for.
The main dishes are also perfectly uncomplicated and the freshness is obvious. The mixed seafood platter is grilled over hot coals in the open kitchen, where diners can excitedly watch their food being prepared by the chef. The head-on shrimp were juicy and tender, the moist hammour flaked off my fork, while the meaty grilled calamari were deliciously smoky. The mixed meat platter was also a pleaser with the favorite being the lamb skewer. Each piece of lamb is alternated with a small piece of fat, so that lean meat is grilled with the beautiful richness of its own fat, without requiring you to trim the meat yourself. Genius.
Before dessert, a stroll along the sweets counter is in order. You will be utterly tempted by the baklava, roasted and caramelized nuts (some dipped in chocolate), dainty petit fours and plump stuffed dates. There is also a range of pristinely fresh and dried fruit, and house made Arabic sweets. And all of it tastes as good as it looks. The sweets are best enjoyed with a relaxing, hot pot of their fresh Moroccan mint tea.
02 665 6077