Thursday, July 7, 2022

Tucking into the Eastern flavours at iTowers’ Liban restaurant

With the hype surrounding the tallest building in Botswana, the iTowers comes amid an immense versatility of lifestyles in the 21st century’s popular culture. There is a combination of places and eateries to cater for revelers from all four corners of the universe.

Earlier this week, Sunday Standard was treated to a true Lebanese cuisine courtesy of a relatively new restaurant, Liban, located at the foot of the iTowers on the first floor. First impressions do last as the kaleidoscope of colours that comprises part of the restaurant’s d├®cor immediately rivets one’s attention.

After we settle down at a table on the terrace, a young, friendly and eager waiter named Leano is assigned to attend to our every whim.

Not conversant with the menu, he calls the host, a bright bubbly woman named Bonnie to lead us through it. Bonnie explains that their food is rich in flavour and that they take pride in their use of lemon in many of their dishes. She further explains that they hardly use spices, instead taking pride in using fresh herbs.

For starters, we settle for their chicken livers and an assortment of breads they call the mixed bakers platter. Bursting with flavor, the livers are a tad shocking for the taste buds; the pastries are stuffed with ground beef and another one with six different cheeses which manage to tone down the livers. In a way, they complement each other.

The party then begins with the main course ÔÇô a lamb chops platter. The lamb chops are crispy on the outside, succulent on the inside. Mildly flavoured with just a hint of salt and pepper, they may pass as a bland offering.

There was also the chicken platter, which has a rich citrus taste and aroma. Bonnie explains that it had been soaked overnight in their lemon marinade. The citrus salad is quite ordinary, though for others it can surprise the taste buds as the dates in it lend it some attitude.

By the time we are done with the main course, we are stuffed and convinced we cannot take another bite.

Bonnie, however, insists we try their desserts which prove to be rather interesting. There is the Mohouhalabiye, a Middle-Eastern pudding made using ground rice which is clearly not among the favourite, not because it has a bad taste, but because of its unfamiliarity.

The Katayef with ice cream, however, is very nice with small sweet dumpling filled with walnut and garnished with fresh mint taken with good old fashioned vanilla ice cream.

Throughout the meal, it is a sheer pleasure to sample their very many cocktails. First is the breezy and blue ‘Sex in the Sky’, followed by the rich and creamy ‘Passion fruit daiquiri’. It is not a cocktail fest without the ‘Long Island Ice Tea’. With the bartender’s recommendation, we have one simply named ‘Old Fashioned.’ All of this is washed down with a bottle of crispy Chardonnay.

The Liban decor is very picturesque, the scenery of the city by night amazing. As they wine and dine us, the strains of native Middle Eastern music is loud enough for customers to hear but also low enough for them to hold a civil conversation among themselves.

The menu has to grow on you and could take a lot of getting used to. The Middle Eastern flavours are certainly different from our own.

Given the liberal use of herbs and lemon and very little fat, it may well be a haven for health-conscious diners. One thing is guaranteed: the food leaves a lasting impression.

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