Exactly 20 years ago, Ayn Al Jawzat at the village Sa’een became my favorite restaurant. It’s owned and managed by a very nice guy by the name of Majed. “Ayn Al Jawzat” is my refuge in times of joy and trouble. To drive to Sa’een you have to be really hungry. Although it’s only 20 km east of Tartous, the final 8 are a serpentine road twisting down a deep valley. The road is not for the faint of heart. If two cars are to meet, one of the drivers has to have the sense to completely stop and give the right of way to the other. Once you are there, however, the owner will personally welcome you at the front door near the spring. When it’s cold, he will gladly light up a fire for you. Comes summer, you will be lead outdoors, to a table in the shade of the giant Walnut tree (hence the name Ayn Al Jawzat = Spring of the Walnut Trees) The food is good, the service great and the price very decent. Now, don’t go expecting to find a 5-star joint. You go there, because you are a simple human being who happens to love to feast on a delicious Mezza , drink a Batha (1/4 liter) of homemade Arak and listen to Melhem Barakat. When you feel you’re halfway through the Mezza, ask for Farrouj 3al Fahem (Chicken on Coal: how about that for a translation!). For your sweet tooth, end it on a high note with a piece of Hreesse and a cup of coffee and stay there for an additional half an hour. Enjoy the stillness, feel the buzz and just plain fuck it all.
Driving Directions: from Tartous, drive east on the Dreikish road. Pass Bmalke (12 km) and continue for another 6 km. There is a fork in the road about 2 km out of Bmalke, ignore it and continue straight (don’t go left yet). Just when you reach a village by the name of Hbabe and near some large trees, look for a road forking to the left sharply, take it and drive for 2 km down the steep valley until you get to Sa’een. Ask anyone where Majed is. Enjoy your meal.
Yeah, one more thing, you can tell Majed that Abufares had sent you :-)