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“French Gastronomic Week, Amazing Food with Chef Jean-Pierre Jacob”

Al Dente ristorante
Ranked #129 of 962 Restaurants in Beirut
Price range: $65 - $1,000
Cuisines: Italian
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Restaurant details
Good for: Romantic, Business meetings
Dining options: Late Night, Reservations
Reviewed January 2, 2012

There are things in life one should not miss. In my case, since I have such a strong passion for good food and fine dinning, attending the French Gastronomic Week in Lebanon was a must.  This event is special in many ways... Not only do we get to try dishes prepared by outstanding chefs from France, this year's edition marks the 10th anniversary of its well renowned "French Gastronomic Week" at the Al Dente restaurant.
Under the patronage of H.E Mr. Denis Pietton, French ambassador to Lebanon, the Hotel Albergo Relais and Chateaux Beirut celebrated this event together with the support of Libano Française – Finance, Laurent-Perrier Champagne, Vintage Wine Cellar, Air France Airlines.
More so, this year’s Festival of French Gastronomy coincides with the 1st anniversary of UNESCO declaring French cuisine “World Intangible Heritage.” This international recognition seeks to protect cultural practices in the same way as UNESCO protects sites of cultural value or great natural beauty. French gastronomy has been singled out by UNESCO experts as a “social custom aimed at celebrating the most important moments in the lives of individuals and groups.”
So I booked myself a table on the second day of the event to check out how Chef Jean-Pierre Jacob from “Le Bateau Ivre,” Hôtel Ombremont, Le Bourget du Lac will impress us. Here’s what Chef Jean-Pierre prepared for the night with my humble opinion on each:
"Opera de Foie Gras, Gelee de Figues"
A four layered cake-like preparation of two slices of Foie Gras, laid on a crunchy brioche "Blinis", all covered with a thin red fig jelly accompanied with a dark chocolate slice: the mixture is to die for. Your teeth travel from one layer to the other leaving the honor for the tongue to feel the different aromas combined in this extravaganza entree. Half of fresh Lebanese fig decorates the plates with a certain class.
"Royale de Brochet, Emulsion D'ecrevisses"
Brochet is a fish with an elongated form and pointed head, thus slightly resembling a pike. It is highly colored and has an oscillated spot at the root of the tail that explains the yellowish aspect of the dish. It is an inhabitant of the fresh waters of South America and Trinidad.
It is prepared in a mousse style, with a crayfish emulsion. The combination of fish and freshwater crustaceans resembling small lobsters is a marriage that no one thought about before. Topped with grilled almonds it makes you say 'mmmmmm.'
For the occasion, before passing to more serious details, we had the special edition "Laurent Perrier champagne 2002" adding a majestic touch to this tasting journey.
"Homard, Jus a la Verveine"
Crunchy adequately cooked lobster, cut in cubes, all surrounding a freshly mixed Citronade with a verbena green juice. Plates are simple, clean and clear, full of taste and creativity where every bite tells a story of passion and love. I won't call that eating, but more an enjoyment of life.
"Lavaret du Lac du Bourget, Jus Acidule au Parfum de Gingembre et Citronnelle"
Lavaret is a European whitefish found in high lakes. It was prepared in a sushi style roll. I'll be honest by saying that the presentation of this dish was not that appealing, but after tasting this dish, my perception surely change.
"Soupe Cremeuse de Lievre aux Marrons, Raviole de Polente, Epaule Confite en Pastilla"
This dish is intriguing. We receive a plate with 4 pieces, placed one next to the other. We didn't understand what is it was exactly and where we should we start.
The waiter passes afterwards and adds confit and ravioli the hare chestnut dark soup on the pieces. A superb and excellent dish.
After enjoying the creativity of Chef Jacob, it was time for desert. 
"Pomme Grammy-Smith, en Coulis, Semi-Confite, Mousseline de Caramel, Sorbet"
A well prepared creative ensemble of biscuit, apple confit, and caramel mouseline one layer over the other in tower-like shape, floating in green apple sweet sauce.
Wines served include Les Domaniers Blanc 2010, Domaines ott Chateauneuf du Pape, Les Cedres 2007, Paul Jaboulet 2007
The overall experience, the ambiance, the charm of the restaurant were amazing, adding to it the welcoming note and the tombola games prepared by the sponsors. All made this made the experience unforgettable.
I was one of the lucky winners who won a champagne bottle, while others won plane tickets, and vouchers to go meet with the chef himself in France.
 The average price was fair for such an event, and especially cheaper than similar events around town. We paid $180 person all inclusive.
Waiting for next year, I will surely reserve earlier to find a table for every night.
Will give the overall experience a 09/10

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Thank AnthonyRahayel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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33 - 37 of 46 reviews

Reviewed November 10, 2011

Its located in the first floor but with a separate entrance. Our concierge recommended it and did the booking for th last table. We had dinner with family and friends and enjoyed it. We had a warm welcome by the hostess whvich was a good first impression. The place was full When we arrived but was not noisy. The decoration has nice designs and i liked the chandelier unique style.
The service was actually good with knowledgable staff compared to normal Lebanese restaurants. The waiter tried to help us with alternatives when we didn't find what we wanted.
Bread was freshly baked and served warm which is a first in Beirut and we liked it. However we had to ask for the O Oil and Balsamic!
The salads were ok but dressing was over normal,
The fried calamari was properly cooked and was not over cooked. That was a good
All our pasta orders wetherc the sea food ines or the fettucini were good. The steak was also good though they didn't serve any sauce with it.
Again like most of the other places in the same area it is pricey.
It has only 2 outdoor tables on 2 different corners.

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1  Thank Khawla A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 1, 2011

Everything about this restaurant from service to comfort and décor is beautiful and ornate. The menu wonderfully simple and delicious. Finally a restaurant with professional service where you can feel like you have had a wonderful romantic meal out.

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Thank Beirutiya
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 17, 2011

Confotable/ luxury setting, although i felt seating was too low. Starters were OK but no real character and not matching the price list.. I took fish (Bar) for main course priced at 50$ , obviously it was a farm fish with no taste and not motivaron to finish. I guess this is a restaurante for those on business expense since place was practically empty for dinner.
Net: a boring menu and a boring retaurante . My wife took me there for my birthday and she feels very bad about it... hopefully she will make it up today

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1  Thank BEKMaster
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 15, 2010

The restaurant is located at the Albergo, a Relais and Chateaux hotel.

The setting is very nice, and it certainly would be a good choice for a romantic dinner. But one does not go to a restaurant just for the location: Food (and wine) certainly are what matters!

On that front, I can only express my disappointment. Meals are nothing special really. You will find much better Italian restaurants in Beirut. Don Giovanni is way better for instance.

Back to Al Dente: entrees were below average. No finesse at all.
The main dishes were also disappointing: a spaghetti with truffles recommended by the waiter was just disgusting, with Lidl-type pasta. The other meal was ok. But just ok.

All of this for quite steep prices. You certainly pay for the place; definitely not for the food. That was enough for us, and we did not even bothered trying dessert.

The wine list is poor: only strong reds (which obviously does not go well with the food on offer); the choice of white wine is limited and not good quality. Some Italian could do, but it is on the cheap side (I mean here low quality).
The only decent wines one could find are VERY expensive. Not worth it given that the food is below average.
How disappointing that even the quality of Lebanese wines on offer are not the best ones (they only have the usual Ksara and Kefraya)

Service is nothing special. I should mention that it took us 20 minutes to get the bill.

Overall, very poor value for money. A restaurant living on the reputation of the place, with a food way below average, and definitely not deserving the very steep price.

Not recommended.

If you are looking for a fine dining experience, I would recommend "Au Premier" at Vendome Intercontinental; or "Racines" at Abdel Wahab street. "Eau de vie" at Phoenicia Intercontinental is also a decent choice.

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4  Thank strawberita
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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