If you’re heading to Gilt to reminisce about the days of Marwan Keyrouz at the helm of Element’s DJ booth, think again. Not that the music is bad here, quite the opposite actually. The music is a regal to your ears; it is just a much different style. I would dare say that, just like a fine wine, he had matured, moving away from the commercial hits that he once used to play, and that nonetheless made us dance throughout the night and all the way until dawn. The remixes he plays in Gilt now are just exquisite, and the CDs he churns out every year to celebrate his success are a testament to such. Recently having celebrated the 4th anniversary of Gilt, he now upped the level once more by moving (seemingly escaping the city, just for the summer season) to Le Plateau de Bakish. Maybe there, in the open air, your ears could handle the loud music, as it does get astoundingly loud, to the point where at times, you can’t really engage in conversations comfortably. Not to mention that the issue of air pollution would be resolved in the open air of the mountains as Gilt in the Saifi area tends to be heavily polluted when it gets crowded.
The drinks at Gilt, even though feeling light on alcohol, are heavy on the price. A Moscow Mule at 24,000 and a Stoli Red at 22,000 are rather on the high side of Beirut’s bar scene. The service nonetheless is up to par, and the waiters are professional and fast on their feet. Occasionally though, you might get the overzealous guy who, in trying to provide a personal touch, by making it look as if they know you and remember your drink by shouting with confidence: “your usual drink, Mr./Mrs. X?” and getting it all wrong because obviously he got you mistaken with another patron. The intent was there though, and the innocence of his mistake made it all worthwhile.
The food at Gilt is mesmerizing. Unfortunately, it is just not consistently so. I will give it the benefit of the doubt this time around, given that the place was packed and the kitchen was overwhelmed and probably burnt out. I will just have to go again and test it out on a slow day. But that should be no excuse, and the kitchen staff should be up to par at all times. On our last visit, the Grilled Calamari Salad was a tad too oily and the Grilled Octopus was indeed undercooked. But the Grilled Tenderloin of Beef was very tender and exquisitely tasty, even though it was grilled to a medium temperature, when it was actually ordered medium rare, and the side of broccoli and burnt mushroom that came with it was not really worthy of such a dish. Moreover, not that it needed any sauce as the meat served is indeed of top quality and delectable on its own, it was served with a side of pepper sauce, which really lacked the punch of pepper. It was more like a creamy sauce with a meager hint of ground pepper. The Veal Tenderloin à la Plancha was a great meal as well - perfectly cooked and very tasty. But their best menu item is still by far, the one and only Gilt’s Authentic Steak Tartare. If only they would not serve it with a side salad “on top of” the steak tartare, which makes the tartufo dressing seep through the meat and destroy the magic of that dish. Lest we not forget the fries that are served along, golden and crispy as they should be, that you just could not get enough of. But again, I have to stress this out again though, an “aside” serving of that salad, along with its wonderful truffle oil dressing would be better suited for that delectable dish.
As for the desserts, you can safely skip those, as you won’t be missing much. The French Pain Perdu looks like a mess, with three flavors offered in one dish, none of which really hits the mark. The Chocolate Soufflé came burnt even though it carried the Gilt name and thus is seemingly considered as a reference not to be missed. The only dessert that was worth trying was the Hazelnut Biscotti, and still that wasn’t to die for.
At an average of $120 per person, Gilt is positioning itself high up on the ladder, but the kitchen is not following suit at all times. The high ceilings and the great music, the great service and the cleanliness of the place, and even the fact that the restrooms are constantly being cleaned up to perfection do not make up for the stumbling kitchen work. Now if only I could understand the meaning of that ruler inside their WC…
Sound: Max Level = 109.4 dB, TWA = 82.6 dB
Air Quality: 39/100 (very polluted), VOC 2.7ppm, Humidity 62%, Temp +20°C
Price: Very High
We like: the music, the steak tartare, the grilled meat
Not so much: the desserts
Our suggestion: go for dinner mid-week to avoid loud music on heavily crowded nights
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