One of the longest-standing Armenian restaurants in the capital, Al-Mayass began as a labor of love 13 years ago when Armenian-Lebanese chef Chant Alexanderian opened the small Beirut eatery with his son, using their perfected traditional Syrian recipes. 

 Over a decade later it seems Mayass has lost none of its family feel; its Middle Eastern mezza made with a homemade Aleppo twist and its friendly waiters ushering you into the cozy, low-ceilinged cottage help retain the sense of intimacy. 

The restaurant’s staff, (many related to the ageing owner) adorned in modern crimson and white uniforms, delicately offset the low-key rustic charm of their setting, offering a welcome retreat from the horde of over-priced and over-designed bistros in the Christian heartland of Achrafieh. 
In fact you could easily walk straight past it. Quietly nestled between beautiful old Lebanese houses, Mayass does not announce itself quite like most of its competition. 
But this is not to say that its culinary brilliance has gone unnoticed: featured in last year’s Food and Wine’s Go List, Mayass is known for doing good food well. 
Perhaps the discerning American magazine was referring to the mehammara when it awarded the restaurant the honor. A crusted walnut and spicy pepper sauce, the dish’s nuanced nuttiness proved a powerful accompaniment to the toasted Arabic bread, and a perfectly simple appetizer to balance the rather complex milieu of flavors that followed. 

 The spicy potatoes, or batata harra, and the tan­gy grenadine-soaked fattouche offered a much-needed break from the otherwise heavy menu. 

 However the next course of saebeurek, an unambitious and rather stodgy layered cheese pastry pie, did little to excite a palette still savoring the sharp coriander of the potatoes that proceeded. 

For all the excitement lacking from the saebeurek, the kabab be karaz more than made up ground. One of the most popular Armenian dishes on the well-conceived menu, the sweet ground meat apparently never fails to impress. The Mayass recipe relies on the sweetness of the cooked cherries and the unique elegant twist of pomegranate, which was beautifully complemented by the seasoned and tender lamb. 
A traditional Armenian coffee, strong in taste and thick as mud, makes for an ideal way to cap the savory meal.
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