Saturday June 15th, 2024
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WATCH: How a Lebanese Grandma Inspired Egypt’s Byblos Restaurant

Each dish at Byblos, the Four Seasons' best-kept secret Lebanese restaurant, is inspired by Lebanon's storied neighbourhoods.

Scene Eats

Sleek interiors, a picture perfect view, and a quietude that almost echoes the sounds of forks and knives mask a bustling kitchen; one filled with spice, flavour, and soul. As we inhaled mouthfuls of hummus - in all its variations but most importantly in its classic traditional recipe - Lebanese Chef de Cuisine, Wissam Kayrouz, walked us through his story, and with it, how a diverse menu was crafted and constructed around Lebanese neighbourhoods with each dish representing a flavour.

Naturally, a maternal figure inspired his love for the kitchen - a ‘setto’ or grandma, whom he was so enamoured by that he followed her into the kitchen, observing and taking notes. While Wissam is now adept at cooking the abstract and avant-garde, he remains loyal to the traditions of Lebanese cuisine and his grandma’s teachings, reserving experimentation solely for presentation.

From the classic Lebanese appetisers to a guest favourite - and a personal favourite - fish cooked in a creamy tahini sauce, everything we tried was fresh and new, yet also familiar to the taste of Lebanon. While a shrimp fatteh might seem like an unlikely mix, we would say it’s one of Byblos’ must-try dishes. The tangy yoghurt sauce and crisps of bread, with sautéed shrimp glistening in garlic butter and cilantro, just work. In Cairo, Lebanese cuisine is as familiar and favoured as Egyptian cuisine, except it’s lighter. But let’s not delve into a comparison that might stir up nationalistic feelings or debates about molokheya preferences.

Observing Al Kayrouz in the kitchen, amidst the hustle and bustle, he manages with precision and caution to approach his ingredients. The spices he deems essential to Lebanese cuisine - sumaq reigns supreme - and the flavours he refuses to compromise on.

Byblos invites guests into a serene and relaxed setting, blending indoor and outdoor dining spaces by the poolside. The restaurant's interior is bright and airy, featuring comfortable beige banquettes, elegant white columns, and a ceiling of mirrored panels reminiscent of French doors. Floral patterns in greens and blues, inspired by Lebanon’s Beqaa Valley, adorn pillows, wall art, and decorative ceramics, adding vibrant touches to the soothing decor.

The dark green marble flooring extends seamlessly to the outdoor patio, where sunlight filters through a slatted wooden roof, casting dynamic shadows throughout the day. From the patio, diners can enjoy views of the open blue sky and the pool area, surrounded by carefully maintained greenery. In the evening, the patio transforms into a shisha lounge, offering a variety of exotic water pipe flavours to be savoured under the stars.

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