The SkyDive from Le Ciel Hilton

Le Ciel - Hilton Habtoor Grand Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

“The fall that hurts the most is usually the one that starts from the highest point…”

 The one I will tell you about started from Le Ciel on the 31st Floor of the Hilton Beirut…

Two events happened there recently, “the Gueridon Night and the” “French Cultural Week Launch”

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We were heading to the Gueridon Night with, in our heads, the memory of last year’s Venezia diner: A Diner that transported us to new heights in the art of gastronomy and landed us softly with our heads still dans les nuages…

The Setup was perfect, the right lighting, the right music, the right atmosphere, everything was set for the right mood. The Salad buffet was gorgeous and you could tell that a great chef was behind the small details… Hats of Chef Jihad Dfouni

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The food was light, delightfully flavored especially the Salmon, the steak and the Jumbo Shrimps. All of high quality with the right seasoning. Those three items could’ve been the highlight of the evening and could’ve made it a huge success if it wasn’t for the presentation and service (which affected the quantity served).

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Alors ici, let me be straight: the presentation was VERY ambitious, the shrimps and meat were presented on skewers while the salmon in chunks on a plate to be served by the waiters directly into our plates. And that’s where the fall started:

The Waiters were clearly not trained or at least not trained enough for this kind of service, you could hear them nagging and whining while trying to take that shrimp off that skewer, a clear struggle was going on there, and with each successful draw, droplets of oil, dressing and/or fat was sprinkled all over our hands , sometimes faces and clothes…

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The worst though was with the meat: The waiter was pulling so hard on it to take it off the skewer that it took off and landed on the dress of my unfortunate table neighbor. She was gracious enough to take it with a smile and try to reduce the confusion off the sorry waiter…

In a matter of minutes… we forgot how delicious the food was and were appalled at the poor quality of service, quality that was, just a year ago… PERFECT at Venezia… One would expect, that at Le Ciel, we should’ve had a heavenly experience… the free fall started…

So, of course,  it was with a certain apprehension that we headed few days ago, again to Le Ciel – Hilton for the French Cultural Week Launch under the patronage of the French Embassy in Lebanon.

Personally, I was secretly hoping for a festin venu de France at the hands of chef Monasson…

The Cheese buffet display was enticing

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Lukas Abdul (The voice France) started to sing, and the waiter came to ask us what we would like to drink… :

  • We have open wine tonight, what would you like to have? he said

I looked at him puzzled

  • what is the menu again? I asked
  • Duck and Chicken, he replied

Alors voila donc how the waiters are trained to present, what is supposed to be a French gastronomical menu priced at 60$ per person at Le Ciel Hilton with open wine (sponsored by Enoteca)…

They also expect the guest to choose his wine, without knowing what the menu will be…

Again, and for the second time in a major event, the waiters were not trained properly, some even didn’t speak French or English… (yes we noticed) and please here, don’t go blaming the waiters for failing to fill their role, when the management fails so evidently in preparing them for an event that is out of their daily routine or for not hiring the right personnel for the job.

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The Duck turned out to be apparently in a salad… paté de foie de canard… which was very good, ceci dis en passant. I loved how the flavors blended together especially with the crispy bacon… Lebanese people, though, love their salads with more dressing than just what is enough for a plate decoration…

Which reminds me, a propos de bacon, some of the guests present didn’t want to have it, probably for religious reasons: One of them asked the waiter to serve her the dish without the bacon (please) to which the waiter replied:

  • The chef will be angry, he doesn’t like to change anything in his plates
  • Can you please go and ask him for this favor nonetheless? she kindly replied

The waiter left with the dish, supposedly to ask the chef, but never came back to the table, nor replied the lady…

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When he came back with the main dish, the chicken, the same waiter asked her in Arabic:

  • This is chicken, do you want it? Or shall I take it and go again? (was it the waiter talking? Or was he asked to reply that way?)

The fall reached Terminal velocity… the crash was imminent…

The Chicken was well seasoned and tasty, it was sided with broccoli and cauliflower…

Now listen, the dish was good, really, but oh so poor! Did Chef Monasson fly all the way from France to present us with this? No offense meant, vraiment, it’s a great dish any day for any average restaurant, but messieurs! Certainly not enough for the 5 Stars Hilton on the amazing 31st Floor restaurant Le Ciel!! There was absolutely no creativity in it, it was a boring dish à la portée du premier chef Libanais in French Gastronomy venu… The portion was also relatively small and left us sur notre faim…

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Le Dessert, a delicious, yet tiny crème brulée, again, not an ounce of effort with the creativity or the portion size, undeniably good… however so not in the league of what Le ciel should be serving…

Booom… we have made landfall… a hard a painful fall on my fingers as I was typing it with the greatest of reluctance…

It just reminded me… that it takes a team of great men and women to create a name such as Hilton… it takes even more great men and women to sustain it… but very few to let it fall in pieces in one night…

Gaston Sans Parachute

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