What was once a relatively quiet bohemian street parallel to the Mar Mikhael main road has begun bustling in recent months. While artistic types have long visited the art and architectural book shop Paper Cup and the Spanish library here, the increased footfall seems due to a little diner called Frosty Palace, which boasts the best burgers in town. The diner has been a well-kept secret since it opened its doors in February 2012 , but as word of the quality of food spread, customers came to taste what the fuss is all about.
Tell me more, tell me more!
Frosty Palace is originally the name of the diner from the movie “Grease” where Sandy, Danny and the rest of the gang used to enjoy their burgers and shakes. Today, Zalfa Naufal has brought Frosty Palace to Beirut, with three booths and a bar running the length of the place. Frosty Palace is not for those who want “to see and be seen” while enjoying their meal, nor does it pretend to be: its small size sends the message that the focus is on the food itself, and not on catering to extroversion.
To step into the restaurant is to walk back into the American 1950s. No detail is spared to invoke the essence of a classic American diner; even the sugar and straw dispensers are reminiscent of those in the old time eateries. A checkered black and white floor, monochrome photos on stark white walls and icy blue booths all set the mood. The atmosphere is completed by the music, which features old time classics as “It’s Raining on Prom Night” and “Heartbreak Hotel”.
The crystal chandeliers dangling from the ceiling may seem out of theme, but can be considered a quirky charm, and one can tell a woman’s taste is behind the retro yet elegant setting.
Like the original Frosty Palace, burgers, shakes and fries comprise the menu’s signature items. Other offerings, (including vegetarian options) include sandwiches and salads. The chicken salad, a Thai style conception, is well done and the portion is generous. The brunch menu, offered from 11:00 am, sports tantalizing sounding items such as poached eggs and buckwheat pancakes with strawberries.
However, Frosty Palace’s reputation is built between the buns, and one must stay focused. The Frosty Palace Burger arrives alone on a plate, topped with salad leaves, tomatoes and pickles. Additional toppings, such as caramelized onions, cheeses or bacon, come at prices which vary from $0.75 to $2.60. The burger itself does not come cheap, priced at $13.50 without the side orders which usually come with burgers (fries cost $3 extra). It is, however, a delicious gourmet burger, with premium quality Australian meat cooked just right, with that barbecue taste in every bite. The bun is soft, and goes well with the burger, not overwhelming the taste of meat. The thick fries are served with dipping portions of homemade mayonnaise and tomato relish, a fresh alternative from ketchup.
In the tradition of 1950s diners, Executive ordered a shake to wash down the burgers, and again found it to be on the expensive side at $8. While the taste of the homemade strawberry ice cream in the shake was amazingly fresh, the drink could have used extra milk to make it more of a milkshake, and less of a fruit smoothie.
Frosty Palace isn’t easy on the pocket, but for those with the cash to burn it’s worth a visit, serving up a burger the 1950s would be proud of.