A while ago, I was invited to visit and try one of the trendiest restaurants in town “LIZA Beirut“.
Located in the heart of the prestigious Achrafieh district, in the hills near the
shore, the sprawling 500 sqm restaurant is housed in a historical venue.
Chafic El Khazen, founder of Sky Bar and a LIZA BEIRUT partner, discovered
this magical space on the first floor of Metropolitan Club.
The first governor of Greater Lebanon had lived there for a few years; followed by the Bustros family, who was there until 1995. According to Ziad Asseily, co-founder of the LIZA
brand, “the fact that the building was a family house, full of history and life, was
something that really resonated with us. We wanted to perpetuate through the
space’s new incarnation.”
This attitude of home, history and preservation continues behind the scenes
in the restaurant’s kitchen. Asseily claims that his primary ambition is to share
Lebanese cuisine the way he loves it: fresh, light and generous. “Through LIZA
PARIS I was able to transfer to our customers the taste of Lebanese cuisine, in
particular the classics. This is a constant challenge here and elsewhere. It is also a
learning experience, prompted by uncompromising standards in regard to quality
and fresh products.”
The restaurant maintains the structure of the Lebanese traditional houses of the 19th century; several rooms are symmetrically arranged on the three sides of a large central hall (the Dar), having a triple glazed arcade leading onto a narrow balcony. Only the doors were widened to allow more light to enter.
In order to create a sense of movement in the vast space—500 square meters (5400-square-feet) overall with 7-meter-high ceilings—a story was defined for each room.
Patterns cover the walls, creating an illustrated story. This decision was born from ceramic artists Maryline Massoud and Rasha Nawam’s highly work of tottering, burned and cracked Beirut building blocks, from a highly acclaimed exhibition that began at the Beirut Art Center in 2011 and then went on to tour worldwide. Photos of this work run on the walls in the Building Room and are reflected in the mirrors in the bar designed by Karim Chaya as well as
in the Main Room, which is styled as a hotel lobby.
The Money Room is a dimly lit space with simple wooden blinds; the atmosphere is sweet and nostalgic accented by strong, colorful custom wallpapers by the Italian designer Idarica Gazzoni featuring soil-cement tiles and enlarged ancient Lebanese Liras.
The Banana Room is a beautiful room especially designed for the large buffet brunches held on Saturdays and Sundays. Through the walls, we are taken to the Southern Lebanon through the large green banana tree leaves and the lamps evocative of Casablanca, the Michael Curtiz film starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. Hubert Fattal’s giant stars hang brightly, adding sparkle to evenings at LIZA BEIRUT, just as they do in LIZA PARIS, and ultimately express Ziad and Liza Asseily’s appreciation for the sparkle of life and the talented stars around them.
If you like to enjoy your Lebanese meal in a nice and cosy place, then this is the place to try!