clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

A Chef Dreams of Chicago’s Only Lebanese Tasting Menu Restaurant

Beity, which translates to “home,” is the name of an upcoming River North restaurant

A round plate holds pistachio-encrusted lamb.
Beity is aiming for a summer debut in River North with dishes like a pistachio-crusted lamb.

A new French-Lebanese restaurant will showcase its ambitious young chef’s unique culinary approach, honed through his extensive travels.

Beity, the first venture from 25-year-old Ryan Fakih, spotlights the nuances of Lebanese cuisine which the chef says is a genre often lumped in with little fanfare under a banner of Middle Eastern or Mediterranean food. Beity provides Fakih a platform to challenge diners and demonstrate the French cooking techniques he learned as a student at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris.

“[Lebanese food] can be fine, it can be complex, it can be challenging to one’s palate,” Fakih says. “We want to provoke people’s sense of what they thought was good Lebanese food, and show them what it really is.”

Fakih aims to set Beity apart with a more formal dinner menu, with a la carte options such as shish barak, Lebanese meat dumplings with garlic yogurt sauce, and pistachio-crusted lamb with honey-glazed cumin carrots and date sauce. He’ll also offer brunch options like an ample Lebanese mezze breakfast (soft-scrambled eggs, labneh, grilled halloumi, fava bean, olives, mint, tea), traditional manakish (flatbread with akawi cheese and/or za’atar), and viennoiseries.

Though Beity’s opening menus are complete, its location remains an open question. Fakih says he and his investors are in negotiations for a location near Dearborn and Hubbard in River North.

High-end Lebanese restaurants are rare in Chicago, though the city is home to numerous casual alternatives like Taste of Lebanon in Andersonville. Another casual option, Evette’s in Lincoln Park, mixes Lebanese with a dash of Mexican. Many Chicagoans are introduced to Lebanese cuisine through fusion. Lately, the menu at a few modern French restaurants, like Le Sud and Le Select, reflect that country's immigration patterns with influences from places like North Africa and Lebanon.

Fakih didn’t envision opening an upscale restaurant with both a la carte selections and rotating seasonal tasting menus in 2019 after graduating from the French cooking school. Initially, he thought that a fast-casual approach might allow him to test the waters: “But I found that it wasn’t as motivating or passionate as it would be to be as creative as I could with my work,” he says.

While living on his own after graduation, he began to regularly cook for himself and became hooked on a steady diet of food media — in particular, a 2016 episode of Netflix series Chef’s Table featuring famed Alinea chef Grant Achatz. The episode made such a significant impression that Fakih moved to Chicago in early 2022 to work at the three-Michelin-starred icon, first as a stage and then as a full-time employee.

The stint, however, didn’t last long. “It wasn’t exactly as I expected it to be,” he says. “I developed hand tremors, which made it difficult to deal with that fast-paced culture.”

Beity translates from Arabic as “home.” Born in Ohio to Lebanese parents, Fakih only spent a year in the U.S. before his family moved back to Lebanon, and later, relocated to Dubai. When he turned 12, his parents sent him to boarding school in Switzerland until he became an adult.

Stay tuned for updates on this project.

Beity, River North, Scheduled to open this summer.