Experience… Experience… Experience!
Give me the most “Chichi” restaurant to find or a dime-store, I’d still pick the one with the better “experience” on its menu. (For that, I should be scoring high on the Openness to Experience, one of the Big 5 traits of Personality – also known as OCEAN Model – acronym for Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism).
Couple of days ago, I knew that “Reservoir Beirut” re-opened, with a new flair.
To those of you who don’t know, Reservoir Beirut was one of the few – actually the only – pub to exist in Ramle Bayda, Beirut. The shop was closed in early 2000s. I know about this place, because back then, when I was a young teen, pubs were still a no-no for my generation yet older people talked about it as if it was the “Hub”.
Flash forward and here I am, on the main entrance of Reservoir Beirut, the place that kept the name, yet changed the feel… Indian Style this time.
I entered the shop. Different from the images I created across the years in my head. Different yet Interesting much.
Welcomed by the co-owner, I sat with my friend waiting for the menu.
I told you earlier, it is the experience that keeps me going to such places. And that’s exactly what the co-owner managed to show me!
Here, I will highlight the main experiences that will make you want to go (or in my case, go back):
1- The Story behind this place:
When welcomed by the co-owner, the place was a bit quiet. Only two other customers were present (to be fair and square, it was 6:00, a usual dead time in Beirut – right after moving from work and just before heading to dinner).
She was very pleasant, introduced us to the place and told us some info on the Indian traditions and the type of food presented. The interesting part of the story is that, this co-owner was a waitress who used to work in this place long ago, before it closed. Days passed, and after studying abroad, she came back, passed by this place full of early adulthood memories for her, and set her mind to revive the place again. And she did 🙂
When asked about the reason behind choosing Indian for a cuisine, her answer was that through the years of study abroad, most of her friends were from the Indian Community. As a result, she learned some recipes and discovered her “talent” in cooking.
Few years later, the entrepreneur student managed to actually co-open a place that is worth checking.
2- The spirit of this place:
One of the things that I liked in Reservoir Beirut when it comes to the setting and display is the actual authenticity. The place is not complicated. No extravaganza, no glitter. A simple place serving simple authentic soul food. The kind of food that doesn’t exist much in the area (Hindi being the only main Indian exception). This simplicity is rare to find in nowadays restaurants.
When I entered, I felt that like I am there, in a local Indian ‘westernized’ restaurant, with true authentic people sitting around one table. The wall dressed with beautiful local portraits and the menu is as simple.
The time we ordered and waited, the co-owner chitchatted with us, and with the other table. Few minutes later, the 5 of us (Our table, the owner and the second table), joined conversations about the place’s history. It felt authentic and real. And that is one experience I genuinely enjoyed.
3- The food inside this place:
Let me tell you something… This place is so “HOT” – take it in any sense you want, and it’ll fit – , you must try it out!
We’ve tried: The Indian Samosas, the Chicken 65, the Indian Corn (Oh my lord, that one is to die for) and the Butter Chicken. Of course, one cannot eat Indian without actually using the traditional Indian bread (Garlic Naan).
- The Indian Samosas, quite like our Lebanese puff pastries, yet with a twist. Triangular in shape and filled with potatoes and peas, oh I can feel the crust. Very delicious and fulfilling as appetizers.
- The Indian Corn, I don’t know what that is… It is one of the simple yet exquisitely made items that will make visit again. Regular corn on the cob, marinated with different spices along with butter and lemon. Simply delicious. Highly recommended as a starter.
- The Chicken 65, small fattening cubes of chicken, marinated with spices and fried with ghee (Let’s add 2 kilos to my already overweight body :D). Quite frankly, a good average dish. Even though mixing it with the garlic naan made it even better, the dish wasn’t somewhat of a signature.I would replace it with another item next time.
- And finally, the Butter Chicken. Okay let’s be real now. Butter + Chicken + Cashew = Deliciousness. Perfect creamy sauce watering the chicken with cashew gave the entire dish quite an identity. Full of flavor and nicely displayed. A ne pas rater!
Cutting things short, the place is new yet one must give it a try… For the simplicity, authenticity and the good – unusual – taste.