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A Mediterranean Tasting Menu with a Scandi Twist

Prismatic blue accents, textured wall appliqués and take-your-breath-away wallpaper make a strong case for the Mediterranean diet in Souk Tabule’s reno story

By Alexandra Caufin
Photography by Alexandra Caufin

Cerulean tiles, creamy cyan accents and sapphire wallpaper are just a few pieces of the design puzzle at Souk. The newest addition to the Tabule family of restaurants balances the ambiance of a Beirut street market with clean lighting, touches of gold and modern furniture – infusing generations of Middle Eastern food culture into a cookie-cutter condo campus.

Hat tip to Commute Design for that transformation. Souk owners Diana Sideris and chef Rony Goraichy turned to the interiors firm behind Byblos and Oretta with a lengthy laundry list: an elevated atmosphere; clear design divisions between the cafe, dining and market areas; and, most importantly, a nod to the restaurant’s culinary roots.

But first, they wanted to disguise the ceiling. Using wooden beams and slats, Commute created a dramatic sloped roof, an intervention that immediately warmed the space and created a more intimate height in the main eating area. For the private dining room in the back, Commute reworked a vintage lithograph of Beirut into graphic pastoral wallpaper that frames the 3.6-metre-long communal table (the site of many a mouth-watering shakshuka). Up front, handwritten menus on brown paper scrolls are nailed to the wall, and jarred cumin seed, rosewater and traditional Middle Eastern serving-ware line the nearby white oak shelving, which stretches upwards of three metres. Last but not least, a wraparound bar of textured, gold-edged tiles provides an old-world glow to the fresh saj pita being doled out by the minute.

Grounding the folklore, however, is a series of minimalist Scandinavian touches: modern spindle chairs, orb pendants and cantilever chandeliers, and a demure art installation on the wall. The result is a harmony between old and new that situates the space as both a modern TO mainstay and a trip down history’s lane. “If you’re not actually a market that’s existed for hundreds of years, there’s no point in trying to be one,” says Sara Parisotto of Commute Design. “We wanted to make it more refined, more balanced. It’s more of a nod to that marketplace than emulating it completely.”

Categories: Eat Here
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