with a history dating back more than 5,000 years, beirut has always been a crossroads of many cultures, and this rich legacy is still very much reflected in many aspects of urban life today. the lebanese capital ranks as one of the liveliest and most sophisticated in the region, and these past few years quite a few interesting new shops and hospitality establishments have popped up that cater to the discerning palate of its fun-loving inhabitants. a bright new star has arrived in beirut's culinary scene by way of paris, and it's called liza. restaurateur couple liza soughayar and ziad asseily made quite a name for themselves with an eponymous restaurant in the french capital, serving lebanese dishes with contemporary twist. in collab with a local partner the duo have returned to the cradle of their beloved cuisine and opened a dining spot at boustros palace, the former residence of one of lebanon's prominent old families. it's a lavish mansion, built in the 19th century in florentine-ottoman style, and is ornately decorated throughout.
interior designer maria ousseimi has paired the historic splendour with a subtle mix of modern furnishings, walls clad in stunning wallpaper designs - there are luscious banana leaves, old lebanese banknotes and even skyscrapers - and carefully picked traditional handicrafts, forming a dazzling, exotic backdrop for liza's refined cuisine. the food at liza is based on classic lebanese recipes and the innovation lies in the 'rearrangement' and use of only local ingredients that make each dish lighter and more authentic. the lunch menu lists a variety of simple yet tasty bites from the region, including all-time faves like hummus and tabbouleh. but the true culinary magic is reserved for dinner time when the lights go dim and lounge music fills the lofty space. there's an alluring range of exotic concoctions, such as grilled mutton with five spices, sfouf cake with saffron and stuffed pumpkin with pistachio cream, all served with mezze of course. a selection of fine lebanese wines is available, but if you'd rather sip a cocktail, you're more than welcome to order one. location: 35 rue trabaud [achrafieh].