Dining Out Magazine

Mandarine Verdun: A Cosmopolitan Meeting Point

By Nogarlicnoonions @nogarlicnoonion
Anthony's Restaurant Rating: 75/100 X

Welcoming:7/10 Menu Choices: 8/10 Food Presentation: 8/10

Food Temperature: 8/10 Food Taste: 15/20 Service: 8/10

Ambiance/Music: 7/10 Architecture/Interior: 7/10 Air Quality: 7/10

Total: 75/100

More about: Mandarine

Opened in 1977, Mandarine takes you into a culinary experience that offers a savory choice of dishes from around the world, prepared with a knowhow that expands over 4 decades, relished by an atmosphere of genuineness and style and accompanied by a cultural fusion, where East and West meet and intertwine.

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I never thought of entering Mandarine or going down all the way to Verdun to eat at this restaurant, until today. My plan was to pay Bob’s Diner a visit. I was surprised to see that it was closed. No problem, will wait for the renovations and check it out at a later time.

In the meantime, I was there. Instead of getting back into the car and get stuck in the traffic, Mandarine caught my eye. Why not, let me give it a try. Mandarine is known by many for its daily dishes and variety of food choices – like their slogan says, “Serving the world in a plate”.

I loved this place. The fusion, the people, its ambiance, the menu choices, the smiling and professional waiters and the certain history that whispers in your ears. Mandarine is not one of those places that recently popped-up to close after couple of month. They have been around for a while, and there’s a good reason for that.

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A very nice and old Lebanese-style cafes decoration:

  • Leather chairs around conventional wooden tables
  • A brownish real wood flooring
  • The bar welcoming you as soon a you enter the restaurant
  • Couple of old Lebanese tiles add a to touch to the place
  • Square tables lit with individual pending lights follow the conveyor belt displaying Lebanese specialties
  • Two large design blue columns support the high ceiling
  • A salad bar occupies the restaurant’s corner

The menu sections:

  • Starters
  • The mezza conveyor
  • Salads and salad bar
  • Sandwich platters
  • Pizza
  • Pasta
  • Main courses
  • Desserts
  • Beverages
  • Cocktails
  • Coffee
  • The wine list

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We ordered:

  • Shrimp Dumplings (steamed dumplings stuffed with marinated shrimps and served with light soya sauce)
  • Warak Enab from the conveyor belt
  • Tricolore Salad (fresh mozzarella, tomato, avocado and basil with olive oil)
  • Club Sandwich (toasted bread topped with smoked turkey, tomato, lettuce and special dressing, served with fries and side salad)
  • Fur Seasons Pizza (tomato sauce, beef ham, fresh mushrooms, black olives, beef pepperoni, basil, mozzarella cheese and oregano)
  • Banana Split (fresh banana topped with chocolate vanilla and strawberry ice cream with chocolate and strawberry sauce and roasted almonds)

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The food:

  • Fries are delicious, hot, crunchy and adequately salted
  • The pizza looks appetizing, divided into four different sections, each containing a different topping: The Pizza is so good. A thin dough covered with fresh tomato sauce and surrounded with a crispy border. This light circular creation is much better than the one served at Hamra Cafe, part of the same group of restaurants.
  • The tricolor salad fits its name. Simple and non complicated
  • The dumplings are fine. As good as you expect them to be.
  • The thing I liked the least is the club sandwich. It’s weak. Lacks thickness, flavor, juiciness and taste. Although it looks amazingly appetising; I expected more.

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I loved and appreciated:

  • The warm bread basket offered at the beginning, filled with different French specialties (thyme, plain and brown).
  • The plates on the menu are clearly labelled with four different markings next to them: spicy, light, chef’s recommendation, new.
  • I enjoyed the banana split and its roasted almonds on top
  • A nice idea: press on the button and the waiters runs to your able. Unfortunately no one came. It seems that it’s only a kids game.

The minuses:

  • Mandarine doesn’t serve pork ham. None is used in the pizza or the club sandwich. Taste varies a lot. It’s a cosmopolitan restaurant in a free country: please reconsider… and offer the choice.
  • They only propose a restraint choice of our cheapest local wines. No international propositions are on the list.
  • I didn’t understand: is it “the world in a bite” or “the world on a plate”? I’m confused. One slogan is enough

It was a nice and authentic experience down in Beirut. A place I would surely visit back again soon with the older generation.

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Originally known for its good food and entertainment since the 70′s, Mandarine has once again become a focal point for trendy restaurant-goers. At first glance, the menu presents classic French and Italian starters and main courses, with a couple of pizzas and sandwiches for good measure. But there’s the Lebanese side to the menu which offers grilled meats, a special dish of the day and over 25 kinds of Lebanese starters, known as mezza. It is how the mezza is served that makes the Mandarine concept unique. Borrowing from a Japanese concept, Mandarine serves its Lebanese mezza dishes to customers on a conveyor belt. Delicious plates of vegetable-rich mezza, from classic fattoush and crispy cheese rolls to beet salad and marinated broad beans, entice clients to snatch the plates off the 25-meter belt in motion. Customers can then wash it all down with some local wine or arak.

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