Of all the places in Beirut, few of them can be called my favorite. Favorite as in I’d actually want to go there just to go there, not as an excuse for a date or fun night out. The Gathering is certainly one of them, winning a special place in my heart with their tummy-friendly, nature-loving, history-conserving comprehensive concept of food and wine.
Whilst a few blocks away, old Lebanese houses are gutted and destroyed to make way for high-rises none of us can afford, the guys behind The Gathering decided to renovate 3 gorgeous traditional Lebanese houses on Pasteur Street and make them one of the few organic and sustainable restaurants and bars in Beirut.
The furniture was all bought from flea markets and second-hand shops, used cooking oil is distributed to local automobile garages, the outside is lit up by LED fixtures supplied with wind and solar energy, leftovers are composted into fertilizer, papers and placemats are recycled paper and glass bottles are used instead of plastic ones for water. Forgive me if I forgot anything, but that is quite an impressive (and beautiful) way of considerably reducing their carbon footprint, something I deeply respect them for.
Now on to the more important part, the food! The three buildings are divided into an Italian cuisine restaurant, a wine bar and a steakhouse and butchery. I had the fortune of dining in the Italian restaurant twice, and I must say I loved it. I’m a sucker for mushrooms and truffles, and The Gathering offer an amazing truffle pizza for just 19,000 LBP. The crust is thin and crispy, as an Italian pizza should be, with the focus on the toppings flavor and seasoning, not the dough like most pizzas we’re used to in Beirut.
The decor fits in perfectly with the magnificent stone masonry that is characteristic of Lebanese architecture. Wooden chariot wheels, empty wine bottles and other vintage, reused novelty items and books make you feel like you’re at your teta’s, both in terms of the nice setting and the perfect cooking.
I’m told they have an impressive wine selection at the wine bar, but I wouldn’t really know, so why don’t you guys fill that part in? As for the steaks, I never ate one cooked there, but I once ordered one to take home from their butchery and they made a delightful dinner with some good old fettucine I cooked up myself. How cool is that? A butchery and a restaurant, goes to show how confident they are of their meat, that they’d give it to you raw!
The three gorgeous buildings surround an open terrace with a fountain in the middle. You can sit on any table and order from any of the two restaurants and bar. What’s also nice is that The Gathering does not take reservations, preferring a fairer first-come-first-served policy which is a welcome change from the usual over-prestige ritual in good restaurants in Beirut.
Verdict: Absolutely love it. Perfect for dates or friends, maybe even business lunches.
Price: 80,000-120,000LBP should be enough for you and your date (appetizer, main course and drinks)
Location: Pasteur Street
Atmosphere: Gorgeous traditional houses and courtyard, super eco-friendly.
Staff: Great, very helpful and accommodating. Respond when you need them but otherwise don’t bug you with unnecessary questions.