A girl of two cities, native Londoner Nikki Baltrop moved from her hedonistic hometown to the Lebanese capital of Beirut to work as the restaurant manager at Eau de Vie. As the signature restaurant inside the recently-revamped Phoenicia hotel – read more about its impressive new upgrade here – the eatery is sleek, modern and undeniably glamorous. Hg2 chats to Nikki about the restaurant, the city she now calls home, and the capital she left behind.
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Name: Nikki Barltrop.
Where are you from? London, England.
What do you do? I am the restaurant manager at Eau De Vie in the Phoenicia Hotel, Beirut.
What kind of clientele do you get? Our clientele is really mixed, from heads of industry to glamorous socialites, tourists and locals of all ages.
What meal would you recommend (starter, main course, dessert…)? That’s a tough one! Probably the veal Carpaccio with capers, lemons and olives to start, then the sea bass with Mediterranean vegetables and sea scallops for main, followed by the crunchy chocolate praline, salt caramel and chocolate coated ice-cream to finish. Or eggs benedict, if it’s brunch!
In Beirut , what is your favourite…
Hotel? I love the old-style elegance of Le Vendôme.
Restaurant (aside from the one you manage)? I always take friends visiting from overseas to Abdel Wahab to sit on the roof terrace and order far too much Lebanese food,  so either there or Couqley in Gemmayze.
Bar? For cocktails it’s Buddha Bar, and I’m looking forward to Améthyste reopening for the summer season, too. If not, anywhere in Gemmayze will do!
Club? I was blown away by Sky Bar when  I arrived in Beirut, but if you want to dance then it’s got to be B018 or Chocolate. I am also really excited for Whisky Mist to open, too – as a Londoner, that’s huge!
Spa? SPA Phoenicia in the hotel – I love the range of Ayurveda treatments available, and the Keralan therapists are excellent.
Shop? Vintage for its excellent wine selection.
Cultural must-see? Baalbeck ( I know it’s not in Beirut, but still – wow!) If not, the Beirut museum is wonderful, absolutely jam-packed with ancient relics. The film that’s shown about how everything was restored after the war is just amazing.
Architectural landmark? I love the ‘egg building’ near Martyrs Square as it seems so weirdly modern and futuristic. Also, the beautiful old Lebanese townhouse next to Falamankis that is being restored is stunning.
Beach? I like swimming in the sea, so Edde Sands stands out for me as ‘real’ beaches in Lebanon are few and far between.
What are your favourite London hangouts? How long do you have? If I am being sophisticated, then Scott’s is a real favourite for seafood, but I also adore St. John, Polpo and Terroirs. Drinks-wise, I love the tiki-style cocktails at Mahiki, 69 colebrooke row in Islington is where you will probably get served the best cocktail of your life, and The Portobello Star is a great place for a cocktail when you’ve finished shopping in Notting Hill.
What’ s next for you? Hopefully, Beirut will be my home for a long time to come, so who knows!