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Review – The 2015 Mini Cooper


Earlier this month I got a media kit about the new Mini Cooper 2015 models. And being a fan of Mini ever since I was a little kid, I thought of checking with Bassoul Heniene if they have a car available for a weekend test-drive, and luckily enough I was driving one following a few calls.

I actually got the traditional two-door hatchback. And the minute I picked it up I knew I’ll be in for a fun weekend. Just like all its predecessors, the 2015 Mini maintains a young cheerful look, and I was quite thrilled with its driving experience.

Body and Interior Design

I personally think what distinguishes the Mini from other hatchback cars is the playful design inside out. The 2015 model got some minor makeover especially with the taillights which no longer look very rectangular, but other elements such as the grille and oval lights remained unchanged. So there’s no dramatic changes here but rest assured the car will keep on turning heads on the street.

And to complement the body look, I found the interior to be trimmed with good materials. It actually looks appealing with some cool details like a ring of led lights around the central display that changes colors according to your driving style.

The base model I had included the following features: automatic headlights, rain-sensing windshield wipers, a six-speaker audio system, an auxiliary audio input, Bluetooth, a climate-controlled glove box, and steering wheel-mounted audio controls.



The driving position feels commanding with a wider viewing angle than other cars. However, while it felt relatively spacious up front, the rear seats seemed sufficient for children and short people. I also tried to mount my kid’s car seat but he ended up with his legs almost touching my back. But that was the two-door version at the end.

Driving Experience

It’s fun, so fun actually! I personally love to be in total control of the car when driving. That’s why I find some cars like Mercedes to be somehow boring. I mean regardless of the top speed you can reach with some cars, you feel like they’re guiding you and not the way around, but that’s not the case with a Mini. The comparison might sound a bit weird, but with control and fun I was having it felt more like I was playing with an RC car!

The Mini has three driving modes that you can choose from: Green, Mid, and Sport. The green and mid modes are fuel efficient and best suitable for driving in the city and when stuck in traffic. The sport mode on the other hand is much more fun, and you’ll get to feel how responsive the car becomes once you switch to it.

I was eventually driving in sport mode most of the time, and I can assure the turbocharged 1.5L engine did deliver! The car acceleration was pretty impressive and the whole driving experience was pretty thrilling due to the sharp handling and responsive steering you will feel, and that’s only the base model, so I wonder how S model or even the John Cooper Works will feel! Needless to say, driving back my original car didn’t feel very good!

It’s worth noting that the Mini has a start-stop function that automatically shuts down the engine when the car is not moving in order to reduce fuel consumption.

My Take

As I said before, it’s a fun car, but everything comes with a price. The model I had (1.5L two-door hatchback) is priced at $31,500 which is relatively high for a hatchback car… But is it worth every cent? Damn yes. Actually If I had that budget for a new car I honestly wouldn’t think twice before buying one. Feel free to call this review a biased one, but I just fell for the Mini!

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My best sushi experience


Three years ago I hated sushi. Today, it is one of my favorite type of food. I won’t bug you with the story of how I became a fan, what I will do however, is share with you the best sushi experience I had lately which can be summarized in two words: WOK W.O.K!

I visited WOK W.O.K at Phoenicia hotel on a Thursday evening, which is one of two weekdays when they offer open sushi/salad/dessert (2nd open sushi night is Monday). This not your average cheap sushi you find on open sushi day at some other places. What was available was actually a large variety of fresh salads, mouth watering sushi, and satisfying desserts. The bar offered a wide range of salads including beef, chicken, crab, salmon, etc, the tastiest sushi and sashimi that I’ve had so far (their salmon is just wow, uber wow) and the desserts themselves were not bad at all considering it is not WOK W.O.K‘s specialty.

In addition to the great food experience, the service of the super professional staff made my evening very enjoyable.

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You can devour as much salad, sushi and dessert as physically and humanely possible for 45$. I highly recommend you give WOK W.O.K a try.

First photo is via

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Review – Beirut… Tarik el Jdideh


Last weekend I watched the comedy play “Beirut… Tarik el Jdideh” by Lebanese poet Yehia Jaber, and it’s by far one of the funniest plays I’ve watched.

Unlike other comedy plays, Tarik el Jdideh doesn’t make fun or disrespect the inhabitants of that area but rather uses black comedy to tell their stories since the beginning of the 20th century till today, while shedding light on the sectarian conflict between Sunni and Shia.

Throughout two hours, actor Ziad Itani (who performs alone by the way) gets you to know the people of Tarik el Jdideh by portraying their weddings, celebrations, funerals, and eid rituals, in addition to telling about real events that took place such as some incidents that happened during the Lebanese civil war and when the Syrians came later on. A significant part of the play also describes the clashes that used to happen between Al Ansar fans and those of Al Nejmeh and how it all started.

Tarik el Jdideh is highly recommended not just for being super entertaining, but also for the strong message it delivers at the end.

It’s currently showing at Metro Al Madina and will last till the end of March as their events schedule show. Tickets are for 25,000L.L and you may reserve by calling 76-309363.

Below are some short parts of the play as well as interviews with its writer Yehia Jaber and actor Ziad Itani by Now Lebanon.

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Ka3eb 3aleh كعب عالي

ka3eb 3aleh

I’ve been hearing a lot about Ka3eb 3aleh by Jacques Maroun so I decided to go watch it with a group of friends last night.

Starring Talal el Jurdi, Ammar Chalak, Rita Hayek, and Nisrine Abi Samra, the play is an adaptation of “Spike Heels” by Theresa Rebeck, and explores sexual harassment, misplaced love, and the possibility of a four sided love triangle.

I personally loved the performance of all four actors especially Ammar Chalak. And the the change from one scene to another or from one mood to another felt so smooth.

The play is by the way restricted for people over 18 years old due to some scenes being a bit sexual in addition to Rita Hayek showing in a hot pants and bra sometimes (looking extremely hot!), still nothing seemed vulgar which shows how talented the actors are. And that’s something we’d all love to see in other Lebanese plays and movies I guess!

Ka3eb 3aleh will be be showing tomorrow and next week for the last 5 shows in Monot theater, so if you want to watch it you better reserve as soon as possible through Virgin Ticketing Box Office.

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Shake Shack now open at Beirut City Centre

shake shack 1

I’ve been waiting for Shake Shack to open at Beirut City Centre for so long now and it finally did today. The place is fairly spacious with glass barrier around the kitchen so you can see where all the magic happens, and the staff is quite friendly and welcoming.

I ordered a signle ShackBurger (American cheese, lettuce, tomato, and ShackSauce) and was glad to experience the same great flavor I once had in Shake Shack Dubai.

shake shack 2

Once you get your order you can’t but notice that their burgers are kind of small, but as soon as you finish your meal you will realize you actually got the right portion due to the fatty beefy meat which will make you feel full (or almost full depending on how big is your apetite!).

shake shack 3 shake shack 4

However, and despite being really really good, I felt like their prices are a little bit high. For example, you pay 11,000L.L for a single ShackBurger, and an additional 10,000L.L for regular fries and Pepsi. But then again, they follow the same pricing scheme almost everywhere. Still, this certainly wont stop me from totally recommending it. Do go try it and treat your taste buds to some great burgers!

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Roadster diner’s new burger – Route 66

So I went to Roadster diner on Friday to try out their new Route 66 burger and totally loved it!


Basically the first thing you’ll notice is how thick the new patty is compared to their other burgers (even thicker than the diner-mites’ 220g patties), as well as the new potato dippers that no other diner serves I guess.

You will learn why the Route 66 stands out among the other burgers as soon as you have your first bite. The patty being cooked to medium is so juicy and goes well with the cheddar cheese while at the same time not being overshadowed by the other ingredients. Moreover, and despite being served with a thick patty, the best thing about the Route 66 has to be that it holds well together and the ingredients don’t easily escape out of the bun.

The potato dippers on the other hand tasted pretty good as well and I hope Roadster will be offering the option of serving them with the other burgers as well.


There’s only one thing I wish the waiters would do though, which is to tell clients beforehand that the patty will be cooked to medium since some pregnant women might have a problem with that. I also wish the potato dippers portion was bigger because one can never have enough of those!

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Onno Restaurant – Bourj Hammoud

Onno Bourj Hammoud (8)

Back when I posted about Varouj, several people recommended that I go try Onno, another Armenian restaurant in Bourj Hammoud, and I totally regret not doing so until lately as I found it really fantastic!

The restaurant is located right underneath the bridge that connects Achrafieh to Dekweneh facing Life Center, and it is quite small and cozy with a few tables that fit around 20 people I guess. So don’t go there expecting something fancy, as the focus there is the food, which is cooked by the family who owns the place.

Onno Bourj Hammoud (1) Onno Bourj Hammoud (2) Onno Bourj Hammoud (3)

We ordered the following: Basterma with quail egg, two pieces of soubereg, cherry kebab, batata harra, mouhammara, soujouk, and two soft drinks.

Onno Bourj Hammoud (4) Onno Bourj Hammoud (6) Onno Bourj Hammoud (5)

The portions were pretty generous and tasted quite good as well, I especially loved the cherry kebab and basterma since it was the first time for me to try it with quail eggs. And the best part had to be the bill, which came at 55,000 L.L for everything we ordered,which is less than half what you would pay at other places like Mayrig or Mayas, for much more authentic Armenian food in my opinion.

Onno Bourj Hammoud (7)

Needless to say, Onno is totally recommended, and I’m planning to go again soon to try the other stuff they have like manti, quails, and frog legs. Check below what Alain Bourdain had to say about it in his travel and food show No Reservations back in 2011.


For those who are interested, Onno’s phone number is 03 801 476.

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Fatburger at Beirut City Centre

fatburger sign

Fatburger is the new burger joint in town and was among the places I’ve been waiting for to open at Beirut City Centre since I enjoyed trying it in Dubai last year.

Their menu is quite simple as they offer burgers, hot dogs, and chicken strips along with some other side items.


Ordering is quite fun by the way since the cashier relays back everything to the rest of the team and they all end up shouting whatever you have ordered. Anyway, I ordered a single Fatburger and it tasted good as everything in it was fresh but I felt the patty was a bit overcooked.

Price-wise, Fatburger serves single, double, triple, and quad patty burger, at 9,500L.L, 12,500L.L, 15,500L.L, and 19,500L.L respectively, plus an additional 6,500L.L to make a meal.

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The Hangout Gemmayze

Hangout Gemmayze

After blogging about their competition last week, The Hangout were kind enough to invite for a dinner two days ago.

The first thing you’ll notice when entering the place, is that unlike what its name tells, The Hangout is more of a fine dining restaurant than a place to really hangout at with your friends. It’s nicely decorated, spacious with indoor and outdoor areas unlike most of the places in the neighborhood, and the staff is quite friendly and welcoming.

We sampled the following items from their menu:

  • Onion soup (11,000 L.L)
  • Foie Gras (26,000 L.L)
  • Chicken rolls (13,000 L.L)
  • Pan fried mushroom with halloum (13,000 L.L)
  • Charcoal grilled sojok (14,000 L.L)
  • Beef Stroganoff (27,000 L.L)
  • The Hangout gourmet burger (24,000 L.L)
  • Fondant au chocolat (12,000 L.L)
  • Pain perdu (13,000 L.L)

The Hangout Gemmayze (1) The Hangout Gemmayze (2) The Hangout Gemmayze (3)

Given that The Hangout is still operating in soft opening stage, I found the food to be quite good. I totally loved the Foie gras, the chicken rolls, the fried mushroom, the grilled sojok, and their gourmet burger. I also overheard at an adjacent table that the salad bar is pretty good too. The other items were good as well, but I thought they could be improved a bit.

The Hangout Gemmayze (4) The Hangout Gemmayze (5) The Hangout Gemmayze (6)

For example, I would have preferred the onion soup to be a little thicker, and the beef stroganoff meat a bit tender. The desserts on the other hand need to be re-worked, and don’t get me wrong, they’re seriously not bad, but I personally believe a great dessert can turn an average meal into a memorable event, and that’s what one would expect from a place like The Hangout.

The Hangout Gemmayze (7) The Hangout Gemmayze (8) The Hangout Gemmayze (9)

Anyway, the overall experience was very pleasant, and the restaurant’s atmosphere alone can set you in a good mood even if you just went there for some drinks or wine at the bar. It’s definitely worth a try.

The Hangout Gemmayze (10) The Hangout Gemmayze (11)

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eezmeez graffiti

For those who don’t know about it yet, is a Lebanese online t-shirt store offering cool and sarcastic designs. I got to try them earlier this month and was quite happy with the t-shirt I got.


My main concerns when it comes to buying clothing items online is how good the fabric will be, and if I’ll get my size correctly, but fortunately eezmeez got these two covered.

The overall ordering process was quite smooth and easy. Regarding the size, I had absolutely no difficulty choosing the right one thanks to their T-shirt size guide which specifies the dimensions of each size they have. And when I got the t-shirt, it turned out of a really superior quality.

tshirt 1

The t-shirts prices start at $20 for kids and $24 for adults (for both men and women), which I believe is fair given their original designs, plus an additional $4 delivery charge if you’re in Beirut and the surroundings, or a bit more depending on how far from Beirut is your location, and it’ll take up to 7 days for your t-shirt to get delivered.

Make sure to check their collection if you would like to order one of their t-shirts. I personally got the jongar one in the above photo, which along with the other designs make a cool gift idea in my opinion.

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