Dining Out Magazine

Al Mandaloun: Reviving Lebanon’s Reputation as “Paris of the Middle East”

By Nogarlicnoonions @nogarlicnoonion
Anthony's Rating: 95/100 X

Welcoming:9/10 Menu Choices: 9/10 Food Presentation: 10/10

Food Temperature: 9/10 Food Taste: 19/20 Service: 9/10

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

Total: 95/100

Al Mandaloun: Reviving Lebanon’s Reputation as “Paris of the Middle East”
More about: Mandaloun Patisserie

If you are driving through the internal road of Dbayeh, you’ll see an old house that has been retouched and fitted with the latest state of the art baking ovens, offering a fine selection of bread, pastry, cookies and gifts. I stopped.

As I opened the door, I was welcomed by a beautiful strong smell of fresh baked products embracing my every sense. The smell had a magnetic power over me… I felt like I was somewhere else… I remembered Paris, the beautiful Paris and its bakeries.

I was actually in Lebanon, and how proud I am to say this… I was at the newly opened Mandaloun Bakery…

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With this step, I strongly believe that this year, 2014, Lebanon will be seeing a revival of upscale bakeries and pastry shops…That said, a new pastry shop by Nicolas Audi is also planned to open this open this month.

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Patisserie Al Mandaloun is an architectural piece of art:
  • You can access the place from two sides, one for the Dbayeh road and the other from the restaurant terrace
  • An old Lebanese house has been preserved and retouched to produce some fine bread pieces
  • The first room is the shop where a selection of fine alcoholic beverages are displayed as well as kitchen utensils and cutlery
  • The second room is a replica of a kitchen fitted with a main center piece that is the dining table setup with a colorful and joyful ambiance. On the walls cupboards and ovens display more interesting kitchen gadgets
  • The two last areas are the bakery and pastry spots
  • A long display of bread produced “a la minute” is setup in front of the baking paradise. Two chefs, fully dressed in white, prepare a selection of interesting creations that will make your mouth water
  • The last room is the pastry where cakes, cookies and other homemade creations are on display – amazing eye candy. You can’t but order all
  • Some of the walls are painted in blue, while others are left in white with natural stone covering
  • The floor has a reflective marble flooring decorated with strips of black stone
  • Look closely at the old and designed wood tables, with metals and thick pallets. The contrast is beautiful

My journey continued with the nuts and emmental brioche. A subtle sweetness, an enjoyable crunchiness of the nuts, empty caves of melted cheese and a dough that’s so moist and tender. Wow. A must try.

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The choices on display today:
  • Sandwich rustique
  • Mini baguettes (céréales, sésame, son, nature)
  • Bâtonnets olives vertes
  • Bâtonnets chocolat
  • Croissant (nature, fromage, chocolat, amandes, thym)
  • Fougasse tomate
  • Fougasse olive
  • Baguettes (viennoise, thym séisme, nature, rustique, bout pointu)
  • Bâtard multicerales
  • Bâtard germain
  • Pain au fromage
  • Brioche

Bread is different:

  • I personally was amazed. I took a moment to remind myself what I’m doing here. I was expecting to eat bread, like I do in most places around town. A simple baguette, you know the ones you spread some labneh on, with some cucumber slices… I was very impressed: Al Mandaloun’s baguette among their other creations are different. There’s an added finesse to them.
  • Brioche bread with figs: As you crunch into the cooked fig and feel its caramelized envelope, here is where you understand why this bread is unique. A tender yellowish dough coupled with chunks of figs… Exceptional.
  • Don’t miss the fugasse of dried tomatoes and oregano. Wow, a cocktail of flavors, textures and aromas.

Palmier salé: the crunchy feel of the palmier biscuits you know but this one is salty wrapped with cheese, Zaatar or plain.
If I may add a suggestion: It’s crucial to smell each bread before devouring it. The journey starts with a feeling… the aroma, each dispersed will activate one of your senses while the tasting will do the rest.

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Some of the things I liked that are displayed for sale:
  • Nuts in jars
  • Sweet Pretzels in pots
  • Mon Jardin bio (organic boxes)
  • Spices in tubes
  • Les gourmandises (cotton candy, marshmallows, candies)
  • Mini dragées in jars: tiny little ones of all colors
  • The ice cream freezer
  • Cereal bars with honey, no sugar
  • Flourless cakes
  • Angel cakes
  • Cookies in bags

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Now was dessert time:
  • I spotted a cake that looks like an ordinary one, yet carried an interesting name: Pistachio and Raspberry. As I cut into it, I discovered a green colored dough, where a juicy filling of raspberries fill the bottom. A moist cake, adequately sweet with an enjoyable moist couli. Lovely.
  • Wait, the best was saved for last: the lemon cake! A yellowish colored dough covered with dried sugar decorated with lemon confit cookies. Majestic to say the least. If a bite needs ten seconds in the mouth, a different flavor is enjoyed each second… The crunching sweetness of the sugar, the juiciness of the dough, the richness of the lemon flavor were all enjoyable. While the lemon confit added finesse to the whole mix turning a simple marble cake into a piece of art. I never thought a cake could taste that good.
  • A collection of macarons in nine colors were on display. Nice in colors, perfect in size, each macaron enjoys an adequate and rich texture. I loved their sweetness, their slight crunch followed by an enjoyable chewiness. The chocolate has an intense dark flavor, which I loved, the rose and its aroma were exceptional, the strawberry with white heart, as well as the lemon flavor and its elastic feel.

Before leaving, I went to the bakery section and ordered a selection of bread to take home. Baguettes were carefully placed in paper bags and closed with wooden pegs with printed logos. Then they placed the nice package inside a nylon bag to take home.

I was happy to spend time in this newly developed space. It’s a treat for all your senses. I am planning another visit soon as I know that there is much more to appreciate. If you live in the Metn area and want to indulge in tasty and unique pastries as well as freshly baked bread… 

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