Layal Al-Mahmoud headed to new eatery, Em Sherif, for Mediterranean cuisine with a taste of her Lebanese homeland.

I often avoid going out to crowded destinations during the weekend. However, this recently opened spot sparked an exception as one of the interesting new additions to the culinary scene on the island. Fasten your seatbelts and ride along…

Location: the waterfront shopping centre The Avenues-Bahrain. Destination: Em Sherif Sea Café is a seafood concept with a beef bar corner created by acclaimed restaurateur Mireille Hayek, AKA Em Sherif, as an homage to Lebanon’s Mediterranean face.

Past the welcoming counter, you enter an indoor space with marine-inspired design. A grandeur imposed by the high ceiling, the huge cylinder poles dressed in gigantic ropes, the cosmic chandeliers and, most significantly, the charming sea mural in blue. The water is your companion outdoors (when the weather is right).

The furniture is quite simple yet comfortable. You absolutely can sit on those chairs for hours, thank God! The one detail that captured my heart would be the bag stand that they offer the ladies.

The menu is vast featuring a variety of fresh seafood dishes with a rainbow of other options for any meat lover. And, with the diversity of Lebanese cuisine, vegetarian and vegan foodies will not be disappointed. With the Catch Of The Day display counter, guests can select their favourites from a range of fish and shellfish, to be expertly prepared to their liking.

To start from the beginning with a few cold mezzeh dishes, such as shrimp or regular mutabel, hummus, a refreshing seafood cabbage salad and fattoush, is always a must!

From the innovative creations, we encourage you to try the Fish Kibbeh, a bed of kibbeh dough topped with pieces of grilled fish, nibbles of orange for that zesty freshness and a glorious tahini sauce. It was a winner!

Mixing the mains with hot mezzeh is always a good idea. The mixed grill had to be put to the test and it passed with an A. But the fish shawarma sandwich was the discovery that ticked all the boxes, it is glorious! It reminded me of the famous Samki Harrah a speciality of El-Minaa in Tripoli… OMG! The butterflied seabass was a super delicious, figure-friendly pleasure, the fish was perfectly prepared and the assembly of green on top with semi-sundried cherry tomatoes added a layer of bright freshness. Deep fried calamari? Why not! And Batata Harrah, or spicy potatoes, are an absolute must, perfectly crispy and delectable. They’re not too spicy but you can always ask your host to spare the green chilli slices.

Of course, you can settle for water or take a soft drink but we decided to try different kinds of mocktails. The combination of jasmine tea, pineapple and soda was bitter sweet, great for tea fans. The Passion Fruit Mojito was sour perfect.

When the food is good, we often sacrifice the sweet ending. But why would you do that? Great food probably means great sweet creations as well! Yes, I thought of that all by myself hehehe… go ahead and order Um Ali if you are a fan. Or go for the Ashta ice cream Usmaliyeh because you can. You won’t regret it.

So, my thoughts on Em Sherif? Mouth-watering, high quality Mediterranean food prepared to perfection and presented to please all the senses with five-star service… I am in!

Life is short my friend and if the recent pandemic taught us one thing, it is that we must enjoy every moment with the company of those we care about, be it family or friends. If you haven’t been to Em Sherif Sea Café, make the trip and live your own food discovery. You can thank me later! ✤