Mar Maroun Church Street, Saifi, Beirut, Lebanon
Tel: +961 (0)1 575 858
Website: Not supplied
Style: Restaurant bar
Price guide: High-end
Images By: diffordsguide.com
A cylindrical lift, complete with sofas for lounging on, brings you up from the ground floor French restaurant to this extraordinary space, a giant cylinder, custom-made, and plonked atop the converted house that houses Centrale. During summer, one side of the cylinder retracts, creating an alfresco: the vine-clad garden downstairs is for diners only.
The wine wall in the restaurant shows that Centrale take their liquids seriously, and the list here runs to five close-printed pages including Pomerol and St-Emilion, along with a good range of fizz, and 14 Lebanese wines.
When we visited, they were redoing their cocktail menu. Bar manager Michel Mhanna prescribed a Basilico Addicto, a long, green refreshing house creation with gin, lemon, lime, Cointreau and lots of basil, which hit the spot perfectly.
Established over a decade ago, Centrale is still going strong. The restaurant is well-regarded, the decadent bar snacks are to die for, and the bar crew know their stuff.