Seza Bistro is what we call a “hidden gem”, and a very well hidden one at that!
The open kitchen serves delicious authentic Armenian cuisine in the heart of Mar Mikhael. The food is more than great every time we visit, and the service is always top-notch.
We sit outside, because it’s such a gorgeous setting. A balcony ornately decorated with garlands of lights and flourishing plants and flowers. Even the wooden tables are decorated with pots of pink flowers and dim candles.
There are outdoor heaters in the cold weather, so don’t worry about getting cold outside.
Can you tell I’m obsessed with their artificial flower arrangements?
STEP INSIDE, IT’S JUST AS STUNNING.
ARMENIAN CUISINE AT SEZA: LET’S BEGIN!
As soon as you’re seated, marinated olives, peanuts, and shelled sunflower seeds are placed at your table with Lebanese bread. The olives are not to be missed!
While we waited for our order, we nibbled on Hamemvadz Zeitoun (8,000 LBP), the spicier version of our beloved olives. I would forgo this item, since they were no match for Seza’s complimentary non-spicy ones.
Start with Itch (10,000 LBP) at Seza, which is served warm with just the right amount of spices.
Follow with the deliciousy spicy Mouhammara (9,000 LBP) – a paste made with spicy red pepper pureé, walnuts, bread crumbs, pomegranate syrup, spices, lemon, and olive oil. The consistency was perfect and so was the sweet and spice balance.
Mouhammara is best enjoyed with Lebanese bread.
Served at room temperature, the Varounkov Madzoun (8,000 LBP) is also a must; fresh creamy yogurt mixed with chopped cucumbers, a hint of garlic, and dried mint.
We also had Basterma (12,000 LBP), thin slices of spicy smoked beef, and fresh Raw Meat (15,000 LBP) with Ksarak (Arak from Ksara) to wash it down.
FOR THOSE WHO ARE UNFAMILIAR WITH ARAK
Arak is an unsweetened anise-flavored alcoholic spirit originating from the Levantine region. Traditionally, it’s usually consumed with mezza or mezze (a.k.a. appetizers), raw meat, and barbecues. Usually, this alcoholic drink is made with 1/3 arak and 2/3 water, and then poured into small glass cups filled with ice. The result is a translucent milky-white colour with a sweet after-taste similar to licorice.
When you want to refill, it’s better to change your cup to avoid the separation of the anise. This is the reason why our clever waiter, Nareg, insisted we change cups when he noticed we were pouring a new glass. You learn things every day!
Do not, I repeat, do not forgo the fried potatoes with coriander and garlic (12,000 LBP) at Seza. If anything, order two of these!
The Hummus with Meat (13,000 LBP) was a delight; the puréed chickpeas had the perfect consistency and just the right amount of tahnini was used in the mix. The meat was tasty, and I absolutely loved the added crunch of toasted almonds in contrast with the smooth hummus.
Havgitov Yerchig (16,000 LBP): the fried eggs with a very generous amount of Sujuk (spicy sausages) looked and tasted delicious. Just look at that presentation!
We also tried Seza’s fried meat-less fluffy potato pillows (Patatesov Keofteh, 10,000 LBP) and Lahmajun (3 pieces for 13,000 LBP) served with roasted eggplant.
Sorry, I know this is a lot of positivity to take in and I’m making your decisions harder. Just bring the family and order the whole menu. Another option: visit Seza multiple times and then slowly (and impatiently) tick things off your list. If you’re like me though, you’ll probably re-order your favourites again and again, leaving no room for “trying new things”. Entire family it is!
The first time we visited, we tried the Fishne Kabab (26,000 LBP) dish with morello cherries, which was tasty, but there was nothing to write home about. The fried bread was a tad too soggy for my taste. Perhaps the dish was lacking the anticipated crunch.
Every time we visit Seza, we order Manti (23,000 LBP) – crispy and crunchy envelopes of dough filled with minced meat, and served with garlic yogurt, tomato sauce, and sumac. I love the Manti at Seza and definitely insist you order it if you decide to visit. However, I would prefer it served dis-assembled (i.e. with the tomato sauce and yogurt on the side) and over a small fire so that it stays warm.
THERE’S A SPECIAL SPACE IN YOUR STOMACH THAT YOU UNCONSCIOUSLY SAVE FOR DESSERT.
Complimentary traditional Meghli and Riz bi Halib are served in cute little glass cups at the end of your meal, along with sticky crunchy fingers of Saribourma. The Meghli isn’t great; the spices are a bit off and so is the consistency. The Riz bi Halib, on the other hand, is delicious; I could eat 3 of these! It was my first time trying the traditional Armenian Saribourma pastries at Seza; they’re very similar to baklava, only much yummier! Even though I would personally decrease the amount of syrup (it is pretty sweet to be honest), these sticky goodies are definitely a must-try!
It’s the perfect spot for a romantic date, and certainly an impressive one. The service is spectacular, you really feel in the comfort of your own kitchen when visiting Seza, and the food does taste like home (with a beautiful upgrade in presentation #NoOffenceFamily). It’s comfort food.
DO YOU STILL NEED A REASON TO GO?
Okay. Valentine’s Day is coming up *wink* *wink*
SEZA ARMENIAN BISTRO
Address: Armenia Street, Mar Mikhael, Beirut
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