Homely comfort food is the order of the day, steering the FACT team in the direction of Enab Beirut. Here, we visit the Lebanese restaurant for lunch, discovering why it continues to soar in popularity since its opening earlier this year.

We all could do with a little cheering up right now – such is the nature of 2020. Enter: Enab Beirut. Everything about this beloved Lebanese restaurant at The Terminal screams inviting, from the pastel walls and postcards from Beirut that adorn them to the decorative tiles, birdcages and botanicals aplenty, and flowery chairs that look like they were pulled from teta’s living room.

Just as inviting are the staff, who are both friendly and attentive, even catering to a peculiar request for olives postdessert without looking bewildered – but more on our sweet finish later. And, of course, let’s not forget the distinguishing feature of Enab Beirut branches everywhere: those floral, vibrantly coloured lampshades that hang from the ceiling and promise to beautify your Instagram feed. But we digress. The FACT team is here for the food – fresh, comforting, homestyle food that even the pickiest of Lebanese home chefs would approve of. Take our lead and head there with a group of friends in tow.

The star attraction of this show has to be the mezze, both hot and cold, that are designed to be shared. Confession: we rate the calibre of a Lebanese restaurant based on the taste and texture of usual suspects like hummus – and Enab Beirut boasts a whopping six varieties of hummus alone. Colour us impressed. Our group sticks to the classics, ordering Tabbouleh, Fattoush, pomegranate-topped Mutabal Bathenjan, and tangy Warak Enab before making our way to the two dishes that we’ll genuinely return for: Feta bel Forn and Kebbeh bel Laban. The former pairs feta cheese with tomatoes in the oven, while the latter features balls of ground meat bathed in yoghurt and served with vermicelli rice. If you’re not one to shy away from dairy, order them both, please? The mains, however, aren’t about to take a backseat to the appetisers as we learned by indulging in an array of meats.

There’s everything from skewered chicken and minced meat to grilled shrimps and fish fillet – there’s even a “Lebanese Raw Meat” section for the adventurous amongst us. We can, and will, personally vouch for the Koussa with Warak Enab and Cutlets, an Enab Beirut specialty. We weren’t expecting to take to this combination of ricestuffed courgettes, vine leaves, and lamb chops, but the meat is spiced and grilled to perfection – and the first to disappear from the plate. But as far as our favourite main here is concerned, it has to be the Manti, a Lebanese dish with Armenian influences. Pillowy and addictive, these tiny dumplings are stuffed with minced meat and served alongside tomato sauce and a yoghurt-based dip – except we actually skip the two sides entirely to savour them on their own. True story. So let’s talk calories. Rather, the calorie overload you’ll welcome once it’s time for dessert. Admittedly, we don’t know our Meghli from our Madlouaet Fostuq, so we trust the culinary experts at Enab Beirut to suggest a few options for the highly anticipated sweet finish. We are recommended the Osmaleyya bel Ashta. And, yes, we love the Osmaleyya bel Ashta. Not only is the clotted cream sandwiched within the crispy vermicelli surprisingly light, but it’s served with sugar syrup on the side, which means you can tailor the level of sweetness to your liking.

Another must-try? The Ashtalieh. The beauty of this rich and creamy pudding is how simple it is, with traditional ingredients like rose water and crushed pistachios only adding to its appeal. A word to the wise: parking in the Block 338 area will get tricky come cooler weather, so leave your car at home and grab a cab instead. Shisha isn’t being served due to government regulations at the time of writing, so let’s all make a collective wish for the carefree days when we while away our evenings on the Enab Beirut terrace, pipe in hand. Here’s hoping. ✤