Etienne Sabbagh, owner of Baron restaurant, Beirut, has 23 years of expertise in F&B and operations management. In an exclusive interview he reveals the recipe for success.
What makes Baron unique?
The thing that sets Baron apart from other restaurants is the fact that our space is local, extending from the inside out. We take an organic approach to every aspect of our operation. Our team’s background is diverse, and while we have experience from some of the finest dining establishments in the world, our goal is to simply become everyone’s favorite neighborhood spot.
How would you describe the culinary experience at Baron?
Baron presents a menu deeply influenced by the flavors of the Mediterranean. We take classic dishes and reimagine them with a fresh and innovative twist. Our culinary offerings include a wide array of Mediterranean-inspired delights, ranging from traditional favorites to creatively crafted specials. Whether guests are craving familiar Mediterranean classics or seeking a culinary adventure with our inventive specials, Baron promises a delightful dining experience that celebrates the rich and diverse flavors of the region.
How does Baron’s commitment to using local ingredients contribute to its identity?
We prioritize local sourcing — particularly when it comes to selecting vegetables — as part of our commitment to supporting Lebanese producers and promoting sustainability. By placing a strong emphasis on locally sourced ingredients, we aim to not only deliver the freshest and most flavorful ingredients to our customers but also contribute to the economic well-being of our community. Our dedication to local products is a testament to our belief in fostering a strong connection between our restaurant and the community. We ensure that our guests savor the authentic taste of our local terroir and are aware that they are part of a broader effort to sustain local producers.
Baron boasts an extensive wine list and creative cocktails. What is the importance of food and drinks pairing?
Our wine list is broad, and we offer the convenience of serving all of our wines by the glass. Thus, clients can enjoy a glass of their favorite wine or explore new ones. Additionally, those seeking a more unique and elevated dining experience can try our signature cocktails. These meticulously crafted concoctions have been designed in collaboration with our beverage consultant, Walid Merhi. Each cocktail is part of our efforts to enhance the dinner experience. We offer a fusion of flavors and an opportunity to savor the artistry of mixology alongside our exquisite cuisine.
What is the thought process when you’re preparing a new menu?
When we launched Baron, our objective was to ensure that the food we served held deep personal significance while also being undeniably delicious. We were intentional about avoiding rigid labels or categorizations for our culinary identity. This deliberate choice has allowed us the creative freedom to draw inspiration from various culinary traditions and influences, ultimately crafting a menu that reflects our passion and commitment to delivering a memorable dining experience. By not confining ourselves to a specific label, we aim to surprise and excite our guests with a diverse array of flavors and culinary creations that are a true labor of love and a reflection of our dedication to the art of cuisine. Our focus remains on crafting food that resonates with our hearts and palates and, most importantly, with the discerning tastes of our valued clientele.
What awards has Baron received and what does this recognition mean to you and your team?
We are incredibly proud to have received three prestigious awards that recognize our dedication to culinary excellence:
In 2019, we were named one of the 50 Best Discoveries, highlighting the impeccable dining experience we offer. Then, in 2022, we ranked 12 in the MENA region. We secured the coveted top spot as the number one restaurant in Lebanon in the MENA’s 50 Best awards. This recognition reflects our dedication to delivering exceptional cuisine and hospitality. Our commitment to excellence continued into 2023, where we maintained our status as the top restaurant in Lebanon. We earned the notable position of number 16 in the MENA region in the MENA’s 50 Best awards. This ongoing recognition underscores our unwavering dedication to providing our guests with an extraordinary dining experience that is truly second to none.
These awards inspire and motivate us to continuously push the boundaries of culinary innovation and offer unparalleled service.
Do you have any projects in the pipeline?
We are excited to announce that Baron is planning to expand in the region. Sharing our unique culinary experience with a broader audience, we aim to further solidify our presence in the gastronomic landscape. As we grow and explore new horizons, we remain dedicated to upholding the same standards of excellence that have defined us.