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Em Sherif

Beirut, Lebanon

Pioneering restaurateur revives romance of Beirut

In a nutshell: Beirut's reputation as the 'Paris of the Middle East' may have waned in the face of recent upheavals, but a taste of the city's glamorous heyday can still be had at Em Sherif – an opulent contemporary Lebanese restaurant in the Ashrafieh district.

Some background: Mireille Hayek's passion for food was first inspired by cooking for her family at home. Encouraged by her husband and brother to set up her own restaurant, she opened a grill house called La Parrilla in 2006 and the Indian-influenced Yasmina in 2009, but it was Em Sherif in 2011 that made her name.

On the menu: Guests are treated to wave after wave of authentic Lebanese dishes, starting with cold and hot mezze, through grilled fish and meat to an array of desserts. Standout dishes include fattoush with aubergine, 'bourghol banadoura' (bulgar wheat in tomato sauce) and 'meghlia' (a spiced rice pudding dessert). It is food to be shared with family and friends.

What's in a name: Em Sherif is named after Hayek's son. It translates as 'mother of Sherif'.

Did you know? An astute businesswoman, Hayek has franchised the Em Sherif concept with outlets in Dubai and Jeddah.

On the pass

  • Mireille Hayek

Style of food

  • Lebanese fine dining

Standout dish

  • Fattoush with aubergine fritters