Cordon-Courtine Culinary critiques

Carneo: A meat lover’s paradise

What I liked, liked less, and what frankly irritated me… This week, I am sharing with you the experience of the restaurant Carneo in Jeita and its meats, which will exclusively make gourmet and greedy carnivores salivate.

Carneo: A meat lover’s paradise

Outside Carneo restaurant (Photo: Cordon Courtine/L'Orient Today, 2024)

If you haven’t heard of Carneo or Chef Mario Medawar, you must have been hibernating for the past few months. It is also a sure sign that you have not spent any time on social media. Mario has invaded Instagram and TikTok, hammering us with an enduring campaign. With his charismatic personality, he successfully shared his passion for cooking (meat cuts in particular) with all his viewers.

His experience in food and beverage (F&B) started with William Cheese in Jeita and La Truffe Blanche catering. In December 2022, he opened Carneo with one of his brothers. While Carneo is today a meat lover’s paradise, offering a multitude of meat cuts and a choice of marbling intensity, Mario did not start with that current concept in mind. At first, he offered standard slow-cooked beef cheeks, and a few other meat cuts originating from Brazil.

Ribeye Wagyu at Carneo restaurant (Photo: Cordon Courtine/L'Orient Today, 2024)

So, in effect, low priced meat with minimal flavor. With time, and as his clientele started being more demanding, he kept upping the stakes until he ended up providing high quality grades such as Wagyu MB8-9 as well as Hokkaido A5 meat, which is the highest possible grade for Japanese Wagyu beef. Unfortunately, Mario was so active in upgrading his menu offerings that he overlooked upgrading Carneo’s identity along the way.

Australian Brisket at Carneo restaurant (Photo: Cordon Courtine/L'Orient Today, 2024)

Chef Mario

Chef Mario is a friendly, humble and charismatic person. He is both chef and owner of Carneo. He invested massively in his kitchen (including a Josper oven and several dedicated commercial slow cookers in which he cooks large quantities of meat over extended periods at low temperatures). One thing you cannot help but notice is that Mario keeps his kitchen incredibly clean, and his slow cooking results are second to none. He is passionate and a true carnivore. And the results are simply outstanding as Chef Mario succeeded in not only providing some of the best meat cuts, but he does so at the best prices for that quality of meat and in generous portions. It is noteworthy to detail that his meat cut prices start at $13, so there is something for everyone. For $100 you get a platter that feeds four people: you can opt for a Lamb Shoulder weighing 1.4 kg or Carneo Plate of Dream combining four of the best-selling cuts. While the prices are not cheap, they are by far lower than what other restaurants charge for the same quality.

Being both chef and owner, he puts as much weight on the quality of his food as he does on the quality of service. Ever since you walk in, the hostess welcomes you with a warm smile. One member of their friendly staff will then take care of you and offer recommendations from the menu, and the courteous manager will go above and beyond to ensure you are constantly satisfied. Then once his role in the kitchen is almost over, Chef Mario ventures out and passes by every table, committed to making sure his clients are happy, the food was delectable and the experience unforgettable. He will also engage with a conversation and tell a bit of his story to every other guest eager to listen.

The food

On our several visits, Carneo was always packed, yet service was always prompt; we tried many of the high-quality meat cuts on offer, and each exceeded our expectations. Even the appetizers were lip-smacking: The Stuffed Mushrooms ($8) is one delightful dish in which mushrooms are roasted, and stuffed with a mix of cheese, and truffle oil. As a twist on the traditional nachos, Carneo offers its own Brisket Nachos ($14). A mouthwatering twist with tortilla chips topped with cheese and smoky shredded brisket that is a sure hit. The Dynamite Shrimps ($13) is yet another delectable appetizer that is flavorful and delicious. Crispy fried shrimp pieces, substantial in size with a meaty texture, combined in a sweet and tangy orange sauce creating a perfect balance of flavors.

Stuffed mushrooms at Carneo restaurant (Photo: Cordon Courtine/L'Orient Today, 2024)

The Wagyu Burger ($25) – 200g, so it is no small patty – is cooked and served with nothing but its own delicate truffle sauce. No tomato, no lettuce, no onions, no ketchup, no mustard, no relish, no pickles. You just taste the blasting aromas of the burger – a symphony of flavors, intense beefiness, extreme juiciness thanks to the abundant marbling and subtle nuances that make it a truly indulgent and unforgettable experience. The exquisite accompanying fries are crunchy and crispy and golden brown with a tender interior.

The Ribeye Wagyu MB8-9 ($85) has a buttery tenderness and richness that make it a truly exceptional dining experience. Each bite is a celebration of flavor and indulgence, leaving a lasting impression on the palate.

As for the Short Ribs MB6-7 ($50), it came with a deep beefy flavor that had developed immensely during the long hours of slow cooking process. Incredibly tender, the meat fell straight off the bone, resulting in a melt-in-the-mouth texture and a robust flavor enhanced by the marbling.

Short Rib at Carneo restaurant (Photo: Cordon Courtine/L'Orient Today, 2024)

The Lamb Shoulder is known for its rich flavor and tender juicy meat. It has a good amount of marbling which adds to the depth of flavor. It is imported from Syria and then slow cooked to perfection; the meat is fall-apart tender and its bones slide off effortlessly. As a Carneo special, they sear it side table which makes for a good show.

“Rass Nifa” ($20) has a very specific gamey taste compared to other cuts of lamb. It is tender and succulent though. The tongue is a delicacy, smooth and slightly gelatinous with a hint of sweetness. The lamb brain with its mild flavor is included as well, for those daredevils who like its creamy texture, soft and almost custard-like. It is provided with an unpretentious sauce made out of three simple ingredients: olive oil, lemon and garlic.

The only disappointment at Carneo came from the sauces; they were really not up to par with the quality of the food. Albeit I believe not one of the meat cuts needed any sauce as they are all flavorsome on their own. At Carneo, they provide Cumin, Chimichurri, Mushroom, Himalayan Salt, Honey, Barbecue and their own Spice Mix. The mushroom sauce and the Chimichurri were bland at best. I would suggest replacing them with a peppercorn sauce and a red wine reduction sauce.

Interior design

Going back to the identity of the place, a steakhouse is primarily an upscale fine-dining establishment. What Carneo currently feels like is a cafeteria – a canteen with no style or decoration. That’s because Carneo started 18 months ago as a shisha lounge as well, and includes a Fun Yard for kids too. So, as you can see, the identity of Carneo changed along the way, but its image did not follow through. One such major mishap is the ongoing inclusion of a full set of Pizzas in the menu. Not to mention the multitude of TVs hanging on the wall, and the blasting horrible music choice. True, Chef Mario recently moved the shisha to a secluded outside terrace, but he should really make up his mind and give Carneo its own soul. If he wants it to be a steakhouse, then there is no place for Shisha or Pizza in his menu, much less an area dedicated for kids play – he should focus on his concept and supply comfortable seats, real steak knives and a vaster choice of wine by the glass, as well as work on the plating and presentation of his dishes.

More importantly, he should include a Porterhouse cut in his menu, as it is a top choice for meat lovers, as it offers both the tenderness of the filet mignon as well as the rich flavor of the strip steak. And maybe turn that fun yard and shisha area into a specialized yakiniku, where clients cook themselves directly at the table in a unique and memorable interactive dining experience that adds an element of fun. He could also take it a notch further and start aging a few cuts of his beef, and maybe add a smoker, with a variety of wood chips to provide for a great smoking. Food for thought, given he is contemplating opening in downtown Beirut very soon.

Just one time during our many visits, we had eaten normal enough portions that we could still handle some dessert. And we were thankful for that instance, as the Pain Perdu ($8) we opted for was a true delicacy. A decadent treat that complemented the richness of this steakhouse, with a crispy exterior and a soft, custardy interior. From the first bite to the last, it left a lasting impression with its delicate dance of sweet and savory notes, and provided a satisfying finale to our meal, matched with nothing less than Mario’s genuine hospitality.

Location: Jeita Roundabout, Main Road

Phone: 71 091 069

Cordon Courtine's glasses at Carneo restaurant (Photo: Cordon Courtine/L'Orient Today, 2024)


Sound: Max Level = 96.7 dB, TWA = 52.1 dB

Air Quality: 76/100 (moderate), VOC 0.34 ppm, Humidity 45%, Temp +20.2°C


Sound: 3/5

Decoration: 2.5/5

Staff: 4/5

Meals: 4/5

Cleanliness: 4/5

Rating: Very Good

Price: Expensive


We like: Wagyu Burger, Ribeye Wagyu MB8-9, Short Rib MB6-7, Dynamite Shrimps, Brisket Nachos, Pain Perdu

Not so much: the Sauces/Spices accompanying the meat cuts, Carneo Crèpe

Our suggestion: Make sure you go hungry, then opt for the Carneo plate of dream so you have a small taste of each of their top four sellers, share a Wagyu Burger and don’t miss out on the Brisket Nachos.

If you haven’t heard of Carneo or Chef Mario Medawar, you must have been hibernating for the past few months. It is also a sure sign that you have not spent any time on social media. Mario has invaded Instagram and TikTok, hammering us with an enduring campaign. With his charismatic personality, he successfully shared his passion for cooking (meat cuts in particular) with all his viewers. His...