I’m not an especially fancy diner. I love food and eating, but spending a ton of cash on a fancy meal has never seemed quite as enticing as buying a 20 box of chicken nuggets, some decent beers and gorging myself while parked up in a pretty spot. I will happily spend a silly amount on a nice handmade cheese from a farmers market, or a specialty salami from an international deli, but I have never quite graduated to the point of degustation; 10 tiny bites each containing 200 meticulously chosen, far-flung ingredients, filtered through every over-priced piece of kitchen equipment known to man.
My fine dining reviews would be the thing of nightmares; “Dehydrated milk foam; why? I see no reason to make milk hard. It didn’t work for me in the 90’s with the love them or hate them chalky milk bars, and it doesn’t work for me now. Do celebs only eat in fancy places because the tiny portion sizes keep them under nourished?” I’d be fired in a second.
But, I do like a fancy toilet. I’d even settle for a toilet in a fancy place.
So when my Mum and Aunt came to visit I was more than happy to meet them for dinner at Beirut on Fort Street , Auckland’s award winning, fancy Lebanese restaurant.
To start off, I must admit to my own idiocy. When I walked along the facade of Beirut, I got totally confused as to where the dicksplashing entrance was. You would expect it to be one of the many glass doors along the front of the building, but you’d be wrong. The entrance is located in the wooden barn style door on the far right, which appears, from the street, to be a totally different building. I wandered about, looking like a cock, for a couple of minutes before texting my Mum “How the fuck do I get in??”. Luckily she came outside to save me.
Once you get inside the layout makes more sense. The barn doors open into a bar area which is set off the side of the dining room.
Inside the restaurant proper it’s dark as fuck. I imagine it’s on trend, they call it atmosphere, I call it aberration. The decor was very nice, comfy chairs and plenty of exposed wood and candle light.
The light fittings, though low in watts, were very pretty in a deco kind of way. They acted more as glowing roof orbs than actual light pendants but still, enjoyable.
The bathrooms are located through the bar and around the back of the dining room. To access the loos you have to walk past a pair of industrial fridges and the open kitchen door. Now, I’m not keen on seeing behind the wizard’s curtain in a restaurant setting so I was kind of unimpressed that they hadn’t worked the layout better. No one, how ever unfancy and unfamous wants to walk past the kitchen to go to the toilet. It makes me feel like I’m in a cheap dumpling place on the scabby end of Dominion Road. No disrespect to the cheap dumpling places, their plastic table cloths and blank-eyed teen waitresses are far more my jam, but I would have thought for a fine dining venue, Beirut might have thought out the whole experience more effectively.
Once inside the toilet I was more pleasantly surprised. Lots of polished concrete and chrome. There are 3 stalls in the women’s toilet including a SUPER generous disability access toilet with a shower and rails and all the bells’n’whistles.
They had some nice individual touches such as the brass handles and locks. I appreciate any time a facility has little details that are obviously not from the Mitre10 standard racks. It’s the little things that show the personality and effort of the owner operators.
The Ashley & Co. hand wash smelled very nice but I found it odd that they had gone to all the trouble of fitting chrome soap dispensers to the walls, only to offer branded bottle of soap as well. I guess, as with my inability to door, some people didn’t see the soap and got pissy.
Cleanliness : 9/10 It was nice and clean, which I would expect. The most basic thing a restaurant/cafe/bar/club can do is have clean toilets and if the place is expensive and frequented by fancy pantsy people, then all the more reason.
Interior : 7.5/10 The facilities offered were of a high standard, which again, was expected. I liked the privacy the toilets offered, being that they didn’t come directly off the bar or dining room. I loved the facilities offered for people with disability access issues and thought they internal offerings to be very pleasing.
Exterior : 6/10 Marks down for the need to pass the kitchen and fridges (that’s just poor floor planning) but positive marks for the privacy of the toilet’s position. The confusing street entrance was a bit shit too. I might joke, but I’m not a dumb person and I was confused by the entrance. It’s a pretty basic thing to make the door into any kind of business as easy to access as possible, that’s just good marketing sense.
Safety : 7/10 Fort Street is not the crack den it used to be. Now re-imagined as an industrial gem, post 1990’s drug infested refurb. The whole area has been hard-out gentrified which in a way makes it far more accessible for people like me (weak pussies) but also takes away a lot of the genuine charm of the place. I quite liked the dirty bars and strip clubs. They made an evening out more of an adventure and less of an exercise in embarrassment at the lack of designer clothing you are wearing.
Snugglitude : 6/10 I genuinely enjoyed my meal at Beirut but if I’m honest the star of the evening was not the food. I was more interested in the fun of “being fancy” with my Mum and Aunt, wearing my awesome new Kat Von D lipstick, followed by watching TV’s Jaquie Brown walk out of the place with a napkin stuck to her heel. It felt almost like a bit scripted only for the enjoyment of the hostess when she told her about the offending paper towel. A comedienne making the world laugh one waitress at a time. If I were having a bad evening with panic attacks and spew guts I could for sure see this loo as being a place I could sit and get my head together. That said I saw Beirut at 6pm on a Saturday evening when no one was in the bar, so I imagine the sense of privacy and quiet would be totally lost as soon as 20-30 more people turned up to ra-ra-ra at their own self-importance.
Total : 35.5/50