A new family affair with Walid Merhi, co-founder of L’ Antidote Restaurant in Nice, France

A new family affair with Walid Merhi, co-founder of L’ Antidote Restaurant in Nice, France

L’ Antidote offers a unique dining experience. Indeed, siblings Manal, Karim and Walid Merhi have joined forces to introduce a fresh culinary concept in Nice, France, featuring local ingredients with boundless potential. Here, Walid shares his experiences and what inspired this new venture on the Mediterranean coast.

What led you to choose Nice as the location for your new restaurant?

Manal, Karim and I began our journey in the hospitality industry at a young age in Lebanon. Initially, we explored various concepts from coffee shops to nightclubs. Manal’s extensive experience in the French hospitality sector, particularly in Paris and later in Nice, played a significant role in our decision. Moreover, Nice captivated us with its unique blend of French elegance and Mediterranean warmth. Consequently, we saw an opportunity to bring diversity and quality dining options to the local community.

How would you describe the concept and unique attributes of your restaurant?

Located in the Carré D’or area of Nice, L’Antidote is a gastro restaurant and cocktail bar just steps from the Promenade des Anglais. Moreover, amid art galleries, design studios and offices, our aim is to provide top-quality products to our discerning clientele.

The concept of L’Antidote draws inspiration from olive oil, symbolizing our desire to create a space for patrons to connect. Furthermore, as the brainchild of a family with a history of olive cultivation, L’ Antidote aims to be a sanctuary.

Chef Marta Alemany leads the culinary team in crafting a daily-changing three-course lunch menu. She showcases the freshest ingredients sourced from local markets. Additionally, the partially open kitchen allows guests to observe the culinary magic firsthand.

As dusk falls, L’ Antidote transforms into a vibrant cocktail bar, serving tantalizing hors d’oeuvres and expertly crafted drinks. Subsequently, pre-dinner hours are dedicated to socializing and unwinding, offering a unique fusion of culinary and cocktail experience.

The bar program, curated by me and led by Julia Atrak, assures to delight discerning palates, making L’ Antidote essential. Consequently, patrons are guaranteed an unforgettable experience at our establishment.

What challenges did you face in introducing a new culinary experience to Nice and how did you overcome them?

We prioritize openness, actively listening to guests, neighbors and staff, thus we value feedback to integrate concepts organically. Moreover, we navigated legal procedures and logistical matters.

Our approach has involved observing market trends, planning measurable campaigns and adapting to foster acceptance. We believe in improvisation, adaptation and overcoming obstacles for success.

Are you planning to incorporate elements of your Lebanese heritage into the ambience or menu of your new establishment?

While Lebanese cuisine holds a special place in our hearts, we aim for L’ Antidote to transcend cultural boundaries. Moreover, our concept revolves around celebrating quality ingredients, service and preparation rather than restricting ourselves to a specific nationality. Additionally, chef Alemany, drawing on her French Riviera culinary experience, is showcasing her creativity in our “Cuisine Libre” menu.






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About author

Rita Ghantous

Rita Ghantous is a hospitality aficionado and a passionate writer with over 9 years’ experience in journalism and 5 years experience in the hospitality sector. Her passion for the performance arts and writing, started early. At 10 years old she was praised for her solo performance of the Beatles song “All My Love” accompanied by a guitarist, and was approached by a French talent scout during her school play. However, her love for writing was stronger. Fresh out of school, she became a freelance journalist for Noun Magazine and was awarded the Silver Award Cup for Outstanding Poetry, by The International Library of Poetry (Washington DC). She studied Business Management and earned a Masters degree from Saint Joseph University (USJ), her thesis was published in the Proche-Orient, Études en Management book. She then pursued a career in the hospitality industry but didn’t give up writing, that is why she launched the Four Points by Sheraton Le Verdun Newsletter. Her love for the industry and journalism led her to Hospitality Services - the organizers of the HORECA trade show in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Jordan, as well as Salon Du Chocolat, Beirut Cooking Festival, Whisky Live and other regional shows. She is currently the Publications Executive of Hospitality News Middle East, Taste & Flavors and Lebanon Traveler. It is with ultimate devotion for her magazines that she demonstrates her hospitality savoir-faire.

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