Last week during a day trip to Baalbek, my driver Hussien and I stopped for two breakfasts. The first was light (relatively speaking): a thin, crepe-like bread smeared with fresh cheese and honey, then rolled. The second was a bit more substantial: syrup-soaked semolina filled with a soft cheese and stuffed into a sesame seed roll. It was one of those mornings when I feared I would never be hungry again. Yet after trekking through a large and mostly empty archeological site, the hunger came flooding back, and just in time for lunch on the road back to Beirut.
Just a few miles out of Baalbek, Lakkis Rest House is a restaurant, butcher shop, and two bakeries, each in separate spaces arranged around a parking lot. From afar, the place looks like a mini-mall. But it is actually a string of production spaces under family-ownership. The complex serves handmade food crafted from ingredients culled from the owner’s farms in Lebanon’s Bekka Valley.
Although the restaurant serves a wide range of grilled (and raw) lamb dishes, the house specialty is sfiha Baalbakiyeh, a pinched flatbread made with minced, seasoned lamb. The sfiha production is industrious and each table is served a pile of them with a side of lemon wedges.
Next door to the sfiha bakery, men work stretching and shaping dough into flat disks. They lay it on a cushion, then slap the cushion against the hot interior of the oven (tannour), leaving the dough attached to its inner wall. When it is cooked, the bread is peeled away from the side of the oven and stacked up for retail sale or for use in the restaurant.
In another room, a butcher works with whole lambs. He mixes lean muscle with tail fat, coarsely grinding them before adding chopped parsley.
The ground lamb and parsley are chopped finely with a large knife, and mixed by hand. The meat mixture (kibbeh) is packaged for retail sale or served at the adjacent restaurant.
Lakkis Rest House
New Rawdah Road, Behind El Arz Roastary | Dekwaneh, Lebanon
+961 71 71 71 09