If you’re familiar with Beirut, you’re familiar with Element. Chances are the name itself will put a smile on your face, and prompt the question of where it has gone after leaving the imposing structure in Bechara El Khoury. Well, Element is gone, but the person behind it has taken its soul to a new place: Gilt.
" What happens when you bring together years of experience in gastronomy and music with a passion for arts and design? Good things."
Marwan Keyrouz is someone of an understated enfant terrible- an unassuming nightlife and hospitality guru. And what happens when you bring together years of experience in gastronomy and music with a passion for arts and design? Good things. Good things that materialize in Gilt’s concept. Good things that jump to your eye right upon entering the space. “How do you define this, Marwan? We feel that we are in a space that defies categorization”. He smiles. “It’s an upscale restaurant bar that serves cosmopolitan food”. We can add great music to that.
Gilt came from a clear gap in Beirut’s offerings. The city is not short on international restaurants, but rare are those cosmopolitan restaurant bars that seamlessly blend cuisines. Gilt’s dishes are inspired by Peruvian, French, Italian, Asian and Mediterranean cuisines - a culinary synthesis created by Chef Maroun Chedid. The city also lacks a true restaurant bar hybrid. It’s either the hardcore clubbing venues geared at the youngsters, or restaurants where nothing happens after 11:30. At Gilt, Deep House, Indie Dance & Nude Disco keeps things interesting even after dinner hours.
Marwan’s obsession with design was the trigger to the initiative he launched a year ago: #giltplatformfordesign. The initiative provides Gilt as a platform for Lebanese designers to create unique installations for Gilt. The platform showcased The Cloud, the interwoven black-painted chair installation by Architect Issam Barhouch, then showcased FLUX the installation by Jad & Gaith and as we speak a new installation is being developed and will be launched end of this year in collaboration with an upcoming talented designer.
" Rare are those cosmopolitan restaurant bars that seamlessly blend cuisines."
From the architectural forms of Issam Barhouch that revolve around triangular oak planes, to PSLab’s stunning lighting system, Gilt will always be a platform for local designers. Creativity diffuses all the way from the space itself down to the dessert dishes prepared by Pasty Chef Pierre Abi Haila who won this year’s Valhrona Competition for Easter Egg Design.
Marwan and his team keep scoring for new creators to play with.
“We want it to have a Bilbao effect on the city” he says “just like the opening of the Guggenheim museum made an attraction of the sleepy city of Bilbao.
We want to have a strong positive impact on Beirut’s architecture and nightlife”.