Go inside Jounieh at Walsh Bay and you’ll be struck by what’s outside. There's a panoramic view of the sea and the wharf. Even inside, thanks to the floor-to-ceiling glass doors, you'd very hard pressed to sit anywhere in the restaurant without a view.
The interior works hard to remain in the background. A colour palette of warm timber tones, cool stone and ocean hues deftly captures the resort feel of Jounieh, a popular holiday destination 16 kilometres north of Beirut.
Chef Charlotte Gonzalez-Poncet's background influenced the menu: she’s French, was raised in Gabon in central Africa and cut her teeth at Jean-Luc Rabanel’s Michelin-starred restaurant L’Atelier in Arles, France. She came to Australia and did the rounds at Sydney hospitality group Merivale (Fred’s, Felix, Uccello, Coogee Pavilion) and then Song Kitchen, a not-for-profit cafe owned by YWCA. She’s adept at working with diverse flavours and using traditional French cooking techniques.
That French style still shines through in most of what she cooks. That means grilled king prawns that play on sweet, sour and heat care of a saffron-laced beurre blanc (white-wine butter sauce) and Aleppo peppers. The Kibbi Nayeh is a finely ground lamb fillet given the tartare treatment with crushed wheat, radishes, mint and chilli, served with pita bread. The standout is the cauliflower, which gets cooked in buttermilk, toasted in chickpea flour and fried up. It's all topped with a lemon vinaigrette, pomegranate, mint and roasted almonds.
The cocktails also incorporate Middle-Eastern flavours, like za’atar-infused gin, cinnamon, rosewater and figs. The wine list has bottles from Australia, Lebanon’s Beqaa Valley and the wider Mediterranean region.