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Mezza House – Where better to get some Mezza?

Mezza House is one of the oldest restaurants in Downtown Dubai and are famous for their wide variety of Lebanese food and especially Mezzas.

That’s not all though, Mezza house has a beautiful interior, great food, shisha and even outdoor seating with a view of Burj Khalifa, when the weather is good.

When they invited me over, it was a great opportunity to see if Mezza House still has the flare it once did.

Mezza House - Interior - 5

The interior of Mezza House is a very special place, full of turquoise, golds and wood making it a very calming place to be. They have Arabic music playing and a lovely ambiance for lunch, dinner or just lounging.

Here are some more pictures of the interior:

Mezza House - Interior - 2 Mezza House - Interior - 3
Mezza House - Interior - 1 Mezza House - Interior - 4

The staff at Mezza house are a mixed bag, there are some members of the team who are super nice, some causal and some too busy to focus on anything other than what’s on their plate. Some servers were happy to serve, while others just did their job.

We were welcomed by the front desk and were offered any table we felt like. Once we picked a place they handed us their extensive menu.

Mezza House - Table Setting

Their table setting is pretty simple, a turquoise mat and some simple yet old fashioned cutlery. There is always plenty of copper and metal at Mezza House.

Mezza House - Menu

The menu at Mezza house is huge. The selection of Mezzas fill about 4 pages, with plenty of main courses, salads, grills, sea-food, traditional dishes and much more! I like concise menus as I feel the restaurant has a speciality, and the same happened here, I couldn’t tell what they specialize in due to the sheer size of this menu.

We started off with a few Mezzas to try out some classics.

Mezza House - Tabbouleh, Vine Leaves & Fatoush

We started off with these three, their Fattoush, Tabbouleh and Vine Leaves.

Their Fattoush (on the top right) was exceptional. Nice cuts of vegetables, topped with crisp bread rolls and tossed with pomegranate sauce and vinaigrette. Lovely flavors, crunch and crisp, all in one.

The Vine Leaves were delicious, although a little too creamy, it was served cold and had a lot of juiciness to it. They serve 5 pieces in there, topped with cream, pomegranate and pomegranate sauce.

Mezza House - Tabbouleh

The Tabbouleh was pretty standard, finely cut greens and tomatoes with lemon juice and olive oil – nice but ordinary.

We also selected another appetizer platter which they had recommended, the Kibbeh Platter. This is one of the times where we wished the service was just a little bit better. We wanted to know what each item was, but we had to figure it out ourselves.

Mezza House - Kebbeh Platter

The platter had 4 different types of Kibbeh:

  • Kibbeh Akrass – the conned out Kibbehs stuffed with mince meat and pine nuts. These are probably the most common type of Kibbeh with the coating a little harder than the soft insides. They were delicious and very well cooked.
  • Kibbeh Ruman – Circular Kibbeh with walnuts, onions and pomegranate seeds in the center. These were ordinary tasting, nothing too special. Would skip these as they had a little too much onion compared to the rest.
  • Kibbeh Sajiyeh – The ones on the bottom of the corner pieces. Like Akrass but are flat and fried – they were nice but a little dry. Good flavor though. I would have wished these were served with some Tahini sauce or so.
  • Kibbeh Mabroumeh – These are filled with minced meat, pistachios, onions and cinnamon. Good flavor but I preferred the Akrass overall.

While waiting for two main courses, we moved ahead with another starter/main dish.

Mezza House - Shrimp Platter

This is the Mezza House mixed shrimp platter, which includes three type of shrimp:

  • Battered fried shrimp – probably the nicest one of the three, which has nice flavor, not too much batter and lightly crispy
  • Breaded fried shrimp – very regular tasting shrimp, reminded me of fried shrimp found in most places – decent flavor but a bit bland
  • Pastry thread coated fried shrimp – these were a bit unique, very crispy with decent flavor, but i think the shrimp is a little too exposed while frying, so it was a little dry

Fries were really nice, slightly herbed and was crispy.

Moving on to one of their main traditional dishes, we had the classical Egyptian Vine Leaves with Lamb Chops

Mezza House - Mahshi with Lamb Chops

These are very typical Egyptian, and being half Egyptian, they had to nail this to get some plus points!

First of all, the Vine Leaves were alright. The stuffing (cooked rice, herbs and vegetables) was very little compared to the amount of Vine Leaves, and they were all unified, which means they used a rolling machine rather than done manually. I completely understand this is a restaurant and turn around time is important but maybe use less leaves in the roll.

The Chops were very well marinated in the cooking process but were dry.

The bonus that came along with the dish is two pieces of Marrow stuffed with the same Vine Leaves stuffing. I call it a bonus because aside from the Vine Leaves and Chops, the Marrow was the most delicious part of the dish! The Marrow was soft and juicy and the stuffing was soft and well prepared.

I would order a dish of the Marrow if it was an option the next time I eat at Mezza House!

And now for the main dish of the day, the classic Mezza House Mixed-Grill Platter

Mezza House - Mix Grill Platter

Lets talk about whats in it and then break it down, shall we? You get a skewer of beef cubes, chicken cubes, kebab, lamb chop and an arayes (a grilled sandwich of minced meat in bread)

This was actually the most phenomenal thing we have eaten at Mezza House! The beef cubes were extremely succulent, exploding with flavor, the chicken cubes were marinated from here to the moon and delicious beyond belief, the kebab were nice along with the lamb chops – typical grilled marinated meats, and the arayes was crispy, well marinated and yummy.

Definitely my Mezza House recommendation.

Overall, Mezza House offers a great Levant dining experience in the heart of Downtown Dubai, with a wide variety of lovely dishes, fantastic interiors and even nice music. The menu is huge so you’re spoilt for choice, which may not be a good thing, but they have key menu items that are certainly outstanding. I, without a doubt, would suggest sticking to core best sellers of salads, mezzas and grills for a dining experience you will not forget.

The service: This is one where I have my concerns, there are a lot of staff but they are always up to something or the other and are not freely available to serve. At the beginning we were served very quickly and then as the place got packed, they were all running around making things happen. We had to wait to be served a few times, regardless of the number of servers around. Once you get their attention, they do their best, but asking three times for once request was excessive.

The value: With a menu this size, you can go in have a few salads or a proper meal, and you’d be satisfied either way. Mezza House would have a check average of about AED130 per person if you’re to go for a mezza, starter, main course and drink.

Ratings:
The Place:   7 / 10
The Service: 5.5 / 10
The Food:    7 / 10

Overall: 6.3 / 10

A great place with lovely food with key exceptional dishes, lovely ambiance and dining space, just be patient with the service. I would definitely recommend Mezza House if you’re up for some Arabic food in Downtown Dubai

 
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Posted by on May 20, 2016 in Dine In

 

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Doner Deli – Another one?!

The popularity of Doner Kebab (Or shawerma where we are from) has undeniably grown over the past few years and has given us an alternative to our typical go-to easy and quick food.

I have tried several Doner places and to be absolutely honest, they have all been “ok”. Some too oily, bland, or cut costs by maintaining a salad to meat ratio of 80:20. I heard about Doner Deli and thought of giving it a shot.

Doner Deli - Main Entrance

They have a handful of locations around Dubai and the Al Barsha branch had just opened and was around the corner. Perfect The place is cool with simple decor, and a mix of dark and lightly colored areas. I am not a fan of the plastic colorful tables and chairs as they remind me of cafeterias, but for a quick bite they are alright.

Doner Deli - Sign Board

As we walked in the staff were super polite, greeted us and offered us any table we’d like with a lovely cheerful attitude. While at the counter, the kitchen is actually visible, so one can see the sandwiches being prepared.

Doner Deli - Menu

The menu couldn’t be more straight forward. They serve Doner sandwiches, Doner boxes and Doner salads, with the option to opt for meals. They also have a few kids meal options, side dishes, desserts and interesting beverages but as far as food goes, they do one thing, Doner.

It was time to see if this specialty came out of experience and good food, or just blabber. Lets go!

Doner Deli - Gourmet Doner Sandwich Mix

To start things off, the classic Doner had to be the one to go for. The Doner Sandwich above had vegetables and a mixture of veal and chicken kebab with a mixture of sauces served in an open German pita bread. This was their signature sandwich.

Verdict?

It was pretty good. I would be lying if I would say it was significantly better or different than other Doner places, but there was one thing we all said, at about the same time; Doner Deli seemed cleaner, and the sandwiches looked, felt and tasted like it had a lot less grease, fat and oil than its competitors. Great start!

As always, the sandwich is a little hard to maneuver but one gets the hang of it right away. I also tried their passion fruit smoothie, was was pretty decent although did not have a strong passion fruit taste. I think the ratio of ingredients overpowered the passion fruit.

Doner Deli - Gourmet Doner Sandwich Cover

This is a very similar Doner sandwich with just chicken. Similar flavor but actually turned out to be a little nicer to my liking. Again, that part is subjective to people liking one flavor over the other but the sandwich itself was juicy, crunchy, with a good balance of sauce, salad and meats. Yumm.

Doner Deli - Gourmet Doner Sandwich Flat Bread

The other type of sandwich is their flat bread, which is served in a roll. It does not look as visually appealing and appetizing as the original German pita bread. Ingredients remain the same, and was a little lighter on the bread.

The only issue I had was, it looked unappealing and it was served as lazy fast food. The sandwich was clearly wrapped and then sliced with the wrapper. Not to sure how I feel about that. Pita for me please.

Doner Deli - Doner Box Chicken With Sauces

Now that the sandwiches were out of the way, and we basically got a taste of the salad anyways in our sandwiches, it was time to try their Doner box. Offered in meat + fries or meat + rice (which is a different option in a Doner place) we opted to try the Chicken with Rice box. Sauces provided on the side but more on those soon.

Here, we really got to taste the raw side of the Doner Kebab. The chicken strips were popping with flavor and we got to experience the different sauces individually. Unfortunately the rice (it has peas in it too) made us wish we went with fries instead as it was extremely bland, like I literally wouldn’t know if it was rice without looking at it. I really hope they turn that around because Doner and Rice could be a great box!

Doner Deli - Herb Yoghurt, Spiced Tomato and Garlic Sauce

Alongside the Doner box, they served the three signature sauces, which were garlic, herb yoghurt and spiced tomato. All put together gives a Doner incredible flavor but even individually they are all very nice. The Garlic was light, not too overpowering and quite creamy, the herb yoghurt was typical as the name suggests but the spiced tomato was very nice. It actually was full of flavor, a little spice and just the right consistency.

Doner Deli - Caramel Apple TartDoner Deli - Cheese Cake

We also gave their dessert a try, but unfortunately they were mediocre. Could have passed as store bought, so not much to say there except they were nice but ordinary, supermarket slices nice.

Overall, definitely a mixed bag of feelings. The overall place is nice, the staff are polite and the menu is fairly simple. Their signature Doner sandwich is one of the best Doner sandwiches I have tried compared to rivals, but everything else on the menu had a small “but” to it.

I enjoyed the Doner sandwich but hard to say I enjoyed much else. I think they need to work on improving the small little things that affect the overall experience, and once they do that, they could easily be the best Doner place out there.

The service: Pretty straight forward quick restaurant style so there is not much interaction going on with the servers. When we reached the place was nearly empty so the service was quick, easy but I doubt the service can be of any lower standards as it is all about preparing and serving sandwiches. There were times where the server was not a 100% sure about a thing or two off the menu, she must have been new.

The value: Again, they are doing it right by setting their price point around or better than some of their competitors. I would say a full on meal, smoothie and a dessert would average around AED60, which is the general Doner average.

Ratings:
The Place:   6 / 10
The Service: 5.5 / 10
The Food:    5.5 / 10

Overall: 5.7 / 10

It is hard to place a conclusion for Doner Deli.. If you want to experience more than just a Doner sandwich and have dessert, I wouldn’t recommend them but if you are in a hurry or just want a Doner sandwich itself, you should give them a try.

 
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Posted by on May 8, 2016 in Dine In

 

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Famous Dave’s – The Legendary Pit BBQ now in Abu Dhabi!

If you love proper smokey BBQ, there is only a handful of places that does it right. I got invited to Famous Dave’s new location in Abu Dhabi for a full review and what an experience it was!

They have a wide variety of starters and main courses that could satisfy the most picky customer. I was hungry, haven’t had a decent BBQ in a while and the timing was perfect.

We arrived at Abu Dhabi Mall and could easily find the gorgeous, rustic looking restaurant and couldn’t wait to get in. The staff were extremely excited and energetic, but the restaurant manager was exceptional. He literally, could be Dave himself. We checked, he wasn’t.

Famous Dave's - Main Entrance Famous Dave's - Interior Shot 3 Famous Dave's - Interior Shot 1 Famous Dave's - Interior Shot 2

The interior was nice but it was a mixed bag of design and ambiance. Plenty of seating options in a variety of lighting conditions. We particularly liked the section with the large windows and outdoors-like lighting.

The manager had come by introduced us to Famous Dave’s told us about the background of the true smokey BBQ style, iconic flavors, signature sauces and recommended dishes for us. He was extremely well informed about the brand and the menu. What a great guy!

He brought us the menu while he went ahead to bring us samples of their signature sauces.

Famous Dave's - Menu Famous Dave's - Menu Back

We were seriously lost, but in a good way. We wanted to try everything, but guess what? They have a feast for that! But with a range of steaks, ribs, combos, appetizers, burgers and salads, the feast could barely keep up.

Famous Dave's - Table Placement & Sauces

Typical table settings at Famous Dave’s is a bucket and a tray of sauces. I was wondering if the bucket was the typical “Here’s a serving of peanuts while you wait” or if there was more to it. There was.

They have several signature sauces and we couldn’t wait to try them out and within a few minutes he had arrived with a serving of chips for the sauces.

Famous Dave's - Sauce Taster

Basically, they have a range of lovely sauces from sweet & zesty (children friendly), standard barbecue, and the more spicy Devil’s spit. It turns out they have another sauce they do not bring out except to order, Dave’s Revenge. I mean, how could we not try that?!

It was very spicy, and would burn your taste buds. So, great to try but if I wanted to enjoy the food, I had to stay clear.. for now.

Famous Dave's - Traditional Wings

We started off with their traditional wings with the Texas pit sauce, which was their signature barbecue sauce with a slight kick to it.

The wings were cooked very well, with a nice smokey flavor to it. It was served with celery, carrots and blue-cheese dip. Lovely flavors there, which was a great start of our experience.

Famous Dave's - Burnt Ends

We also tried another recommended appetizer, their Burnt Ends. These are tender pieces of Texas beef brisket seared and caramelized with their sweet and zesty barbecue sauce. Mouth watered yet? It was definitely delicious. The beef was a bit chewy and charred just right, while the sauce made it all come together perfectly.

The sides were crispy onion and pickles, which had a slight sweetness to them. We really enjoyed this appetizer and just made us really hungry.

Since we wanted to try out as much of the menu as we could, we got a feast that was upgraded with a few additional meats.

Famous Dave's - All American BBQ Feast Angle

Just look at that picture! Where does one begin?

Let’s start with the boring stuff. There was a side of corn, potato wedges and biscuits. They were nice and the biscuit was a bit sweet, which was all very nice but we couldn’t focus on those longer than 2 seconds.

They love their beef, and it shows. The middle of the feast had three more sides; down-n-dirty rice, which had an interesting flavor to it and had some beef bits, baked beans which had some beef bits and fortunately their creamy coleslaw didn’t have any beef.

Now, let’s get to the meat of it.

We had two types of ribs, the beef back ribs and lamb ribs. These were really delicious. Surely very fatty but the smokiness was spot on, the cook was just perfect and the flavors (coupled with the sauces) made them just right. One of the best ribs I have had from a casual american restaurant.

Famous Dave's - All American BBQ Feast Top

Moving on to the roasted chicken, it was nice, but nothing to should about. They are all about the beef. It was cooked well and were juicy.

Two more things left! The brisket was really special and definitely a great continuation of our appetizers. The brisket was very smokey and full of flavor, I was actually sad we had only 4 slices. Final thing on the feast was the sliced leg of lamb, which was tender and juicy but lacking a little of flavor for me personally. Perhaps I was spoilt by all the ribs!

It was only after all the meats that we came to appreciate the sides. They were quite nice but nothing really stood out more than the beans. The rice was nice but slightly bland, could do with more seasoning, and the coleslaw was fresh but had a weird flavor to it, not sure what they had used to make it taste a bit funny.

If you think that was it.. it wasn’t!

Famous Dave's - Cedar Plank Salmon with Grilled Pineapples and MacAndCheese

The manager insisted we try their cedar plank salmon. It was served on a plank of cedar and not just served, but actually smoked with it, so there was an extremely rich aroma and flavor seeping through to the piece of salmon. It was cooked really well, and had a great flavor to it. I am not the biggest sea-food fan, so I cannot judge it spot on but my friend absolutely loved it.

The sides did not match the dish, but it was just for us to try more sides. You are free to order which ever sides you like at Famous Dave’s. The grilled pineapple was nice and the mac-n-cheese was interesting but slightly bland to me, definitely could use some more seasoning.

At this point, we couldn’t breathe, but I was just too curious about their desserts, because it could be a point where they fall short.

Famous Dave's - Dave's Famous Bread Pudding

Let’s just say, they didn’t fall short. The dessert menu wasn’t mind blowing but they recommended the Famous Dave’s bread pudding.

It was quite nice, soft and with the pecan and praline sauce, it was actually quite a lovely dessert. I particularly liked it because it was not very sweet, almost a savory dessert, which was just fitting with such a meaty meal.

Overall, it was a very good experience at Famous Dave’s. It is a place to go for a very hearty meal, and meat lovers. Keeping in mind that this is a place focused on briskets and ribs, expect to get messy and make good use of that bucket for all the bones. The food is very good, quite on the fatty side but it is expected from this kind of cuisine. The atmosphere, staff, menu and food make it an all-round great restaurant to visit every once in a while for a good change. I don’t think many people can have this kind of food regularly, which is why I think they needed and nailed having variety on their menu.

The service: the staff were all new and excited about serving, although some of them had not fully grasped the menu and there were times when they did not know everything. On the up side, they were always around and happy to help, and we were always no longer than a minute away from being served. The manager was phenomenal and knew this place inside and out! He was the biggest fan of the place, and was extremely friendly and helpful.

The value: It would be hard to sum it all up considering this could vary hugely depending on what is ordered, but overall, I would say it is around the average of this american style restaurant with a check average of around 120 AED.

Ratings:
The Place:   6.5 / 10
The Service: 6.5 / 10
The Food:    7 / 10

Overall: 6.7 / 10

I would recommend giving Famous Dave’s a try as a great alternative to the quite typical american restaurant you would find in malls, and especially if you’re a barbecue and ribs fan.

 
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Posted by on March 5, 2016 in Dine In

 

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Zaroob – The hotspot of Lebanese cuisine

Zaroob has secured a spot in Dubai’s nightlife, and people flock over there after their parties and nights out but there has to be a reason, aside from them being simply open for business and I had to find out for myself!

Zaroob offer a wide variety of Lebanese and Arabic dishes with quite an interesting menu including breakfast, snacks, sandwiches, and more.

Upon arriving, they have a welcome stand outside where they welcomed and seated guests. The servers are mainly Arab, are polite and quite hip and happy!

Zaroob - Table Placement

They have quite an interesting theme, full of color, Arabic nostalgia and an industrial feel to things. They like a lot of wood and metal and have implemented this all over the restaurant.

We were brought to a table, outdoors (but shaded) as the weather was quite pleasant and were presented the menu. Their menu is unique as you simply tick on the items you want to order and give it to the server. Of course, he can come and do it for you, but its a Zaroob thing.

The menu revolves around the Lebanese cuisine with Sajs, Manakeeshes, Levant salads, Shawerma and even goes to Egypt by serving traditional Koshari. It was recommended to stay on the Lebanese path though.

After giving in our order, the server asked if we wanted some juice, and we thought that would be a great idea.

Zaroob - Fresh Orange Juice

Fresh orange juice was served in a few minutes and was quite refreshing and served in a very nice jar like mug. More of the Zaroob personality started to appear with every passing plate.

It was fairly early, so it was a good time to start off by some breakfast

Zaroob - Egg and Potato

One thing that caught our eye was the eggs with potato dish, which was conveniently served in the pan it was cooked with (we assume). Lovely flavors, fresh, and the potatoes were cooked just right, soft. There were some herbs on top but needed a little salt and pepper to bring it all out.

Zaroob - Bread Basket

They had brought on this.. a bag full of.. bread bags. A Bag of Bags.. Bag-ception if you will.

Typical Lebanese bread from the nearest bakery.

Moving on from breakfast, we wanted to start off with some appetizers and try out their little bites.

Zaroob - Halloumi Cheese and Falafel

We started things off with their 8-piece Falafel plate (served in a tiny metal bucket) and their Halloumi, which was a server recommendation. The Falafel were quite nice, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, not grainy or gooey as I have seen in some places. It was just right.

They did forget to bring the Tahina sauce with it but when we asked for it, they brought it right away and was quite delicious too. The Falafel were served with some yummy pickles.

The Halloumi was quite nice too, served with some fresh veggies, they were soft and with a slight crisp on the outside and was served quite warm.

Now the time for the main act! We had asked what were the two most popular menu items and they had told us the Garlic Chicken and the Turkey Ham Saj sandwiches. So it was!

Zaroob - Turkey Wrap and Garlic Chicken Wrap

They were both served with a side of french fries, which were actually very nice. lightly seasoned and had good flavor. Ordinary fries, but with a slight Zaroob touch of flavor.

Time for the wraps! They have two types of bread, one a Saj bread and one a Wrapped Manakeesh (thicker bread, used on their open Manakeesh)

Zaroob - Garlic Chicken Wrap

Starting off, we tried the Garlic Chicken, which is a favorite at Zaroob.

Within a few minutes, it made sense why it was a favorite! The wrap was a Saj bread, that was soft, thin, and inside it was quite a mouthful of chicken, lettuce, tomatoes and garlic sauce. Unlike I was expecting, the sauce was quite creamy rather than an over-powering paste. The chicken was cooked just right with good bite that wasn’t dry nor undercooked. It was just right. It was oozing the sauce so it did get a little bit messy, but aside from that, it was a very nice wrap. Definitely recommended for any Zaroob visit.

Zaroob - Turkey Wrap

Next, we went on to the Turkey Ham wrapped in Manakeesh bread.

The flavors were there and it was definitely fresh tasting but it was off-balance. The contents of the Garlic Chicken was quite a mouthful in its Saj bread, but here, there wasn’t enough on the inside to balance out the thicker wrap, so you do feel you have more bread than anything else in every bite.

That aside, the ingredients were all fresh, juicy and delicious. I only wished they had stuffed it a little more, just like the Garlic Chicken. The Bread was really nice too, with a little crunch on the outside and it flakes off as well as you can see in the image above.

We were really stuffed but there was one menu item (among a few) that I really wanted to try out, against all stomach-capacity-concerns.

Zaroob - Fatteh Hummus

This is their Fatteh, which is essentially a Levant dish made from yogurt and toasted bread, which then gets soaked and goes soft. This is served with a selection of ingredients; hummus, lahmeh (meat), or shawerma.

We tried the basic Hummus one to get a taste of it, and although the taste was nice, it had slightly excessive garlic flavor. I would say it was nice but not great. Perhaps the shawerma one would have given it more of a flavor balance since the yogurt, hummus and garlic had nothing to balance out the flavors. I could hardly taste the hummus.

Speaking of shawerma, we also tried their regular Lebanese bread chicken shawerma. Tasted quite nice, quite similar to the Garlic Chicken, but with more shawerma like flavors. I would still suggest their wraps over them.

We were stuffed, so we ordered some Moroccan tea to calm things down.

Zaroob - Moroccan Tea

It was nice, steaming hot and just delicious after such a meal, but it wasn’t over yet, the server insisted we have some dessert!

Zaroob - Nutella Saj with Banana

This is their Nutella Saj with fresh Bananas. It was actually quite nice because the Saj bread itself was quite thin, which meant the balance of Banana to Nutella to bread was just right. We had a few bites but couldn’t finish it. Yummy though.

Overall, it started to all make sense why Zaroob has turned into a hotspot. Yes, they are open till late at night but they also have a nice place to sit, a very rustic and industrial look and feel and they serve good food. The servers are all happy, hip and quite funny too!

The service: It was quite nice. By the time the main dishes arrived, the place was practically packed but there were a lot of servers going around and were all quite busy. We always were able to get the attention of someone or the other within a few minutes when we needed anything and they were always more than happy to assist with a smile. Good service.

The value: Zaroob surprisingly is quite decently priced. Their average wraps are around the mid-twenties and everything on their menu doesn’t fluctuate too much. Definitely an average check price of around 50-60 AED per person or so, which is quite reasonable.

Ratings:
The Place:   7 / 10
The Service: 7 / 10
The Food:    7.5 / 10

Overall: 7.2 / 10

I would really recommend trying out Zaroob if you haven’t already. They have quite a large selection but as everyone keep saying, stick to the general core Zaroob elements, Salads and Wraps for the best experience.

 
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Posted by on February 20, 2016 in Dine In

 

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The Art of Brunch – Mövenpick Hotel Bur Dubai

I have not always been a “brunch” person. I like my meals separate and individual.. or maybe I just like the idea of 3 meals instead of 2.

I recently got an invitation to the soft launching of The Art of Brunch at the Mövenpick Hotel Bur Dubai, and when I went through the presentation, I was surprised at the amount of variety they were offering! Naturally, I had to try this out.

The setting takes place at the Fountain Restaurant, which is at the lobby of the hotel, and once you pass the reception, you will definitely not miss it. There’s food everywhere! Food Heaven!

My experience was definitely a pleasant one, and surely not knowing where to start, I’ll go station by station.

First off, the appetizers in a place I called the Appetizer Kitchen.

The Art Of Brunch - Movenpick Hotel - Appetizer Kitchen 1

I absolutely loved the setting, it literally looked like a Kitchen Island and Kitchen counter prepped to the edges with food.

The Art Of Brunch - Movenpick Hotel - Appetizer Kitchen 2

The Art Of Brunch - Movenpick Hotel - Appetizer Kitchen 3

The Island had an awesome variety of appetizers from many cuisines ranging from Arabic, French to Italian. I had tried at least 6 – 8 different appetizers and they were all delicious and definitely oozed freshness in every bite. I specifically liked their selection of Bruchetta and Arabic salads.

The Art Of Brunch - Movenpick Hotel - Appetizer Kitchen 4

The Kitchen counters were where they stocked their breads and sliced meats. They looked nice and although I tasted a few, they were typical and I enjoyed the salads quite a lot more!

Moving over to the other side of the counter, there were some prepared dishes and the Fountain Restaurant had a few stations filled with International Cuisines from Mediterranean, General International Mixes and Indian.

The Art Of Brunch - Movenpick Hotel - International Selections 1

Here we had some Moroccan prepared Tajins, Kebbe and more. I liked how everything was not just placed there for consumption but there are bags of beans, some cook books, etc. They really got the ambiance down just right!

The Art Of Brunch - Movenpick Hotel - International Selections 2

Moving out of the “Kitchen” there was a station with a variety of Pork options ranging from Roasted, Dried, Sausages and quite a lot more followed by some Indian dishes. Of course, as with before, there was a variety of breads, spices and starter sauces.

Before we could start jumping in, we were seated and offered complimentary champagne and the set menu..

The Art Of Brunch - Movenpick Hotel - Complimentary Champagne

The Art Of Brunch - Movenpick Hotel - Set Menu

What? A menu? With all of this food? Well.. Apparently, Yes!

We went ahead with the seafood platter but substituted everything with Shrimp. To be honest, me and my guest love Shrimp and we saw some other people have it and it looked absolutely stunning. So we ordered 2, and then another 2! These people are generous!

Back to station hopping, there is a lot more to show you guys.

The Art Of Brunch - Movenpick Hotel - Sushi & Sashimi Station

If you’re into seafood, there is no shortage of that here, there is an exquisite Sushi and Sashimi station.

The Art Of Brunch - Movenpick Hotel - Sushi & Sashimi Station 2

The staff are incredibly friendly and more than happy to explain every single detail

Not enough seafood?

The Art Of Brunch - Movenpick Hotel - Fresh Oyster Station

There is even an Oyster Bar and a Prawn & Mussel station too.

The Art Of Brunch - Movenpick Hotel - Street Food Station

This is another unique station – The Street Food Station, where they create stir-fry mixes to your liking with beef or chicken. We tried a mix of beef and chicken and although spicy, it was a tad too greasy.

Okay enough food!

The Art Of Brunch - Movenpick Hotel - Ice Cream & Crepe

Time for dessert! They had a beautiful selection of Movenpick Ice Cream and a Crepe station.

The Art Of Brunch - Movenpick Hotel - Dessert

And the widest selection of desserts I’ve ever seen at a buffet!

The Movenpick has definitely got a winner with The Art of Brunch, and I have certainly not seen anything with this variety before, I don’t even understand how they can make this much food, but what I do know is they had some beautiful dishes, brilliant appetizers and I would definitely recommend anyone to try The Art of Brunch.

I don’t often give out pricing, but the deal is so good, I had to! Prices start at AED 195 with soft drinks and AED 295 with house beverages. Both packages come with access to all these incredible stations, helpful and informed chefs and happy staff to assist you. Awesomeness!

 
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Posted by on January 31, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Circle Cafe – Best Chicken In Town!

Circle cafe is commonly known in Media City for being a nice restaurant with calming ambiance serving fresh and healthy food from an interesting menu. I had tried their food and juices a few times, but never written a full-on review.

Fortunately though, they had opened a new branch in Jumeirah, Beach Park Plaza and it was about time I reviewed them!

Circle Cafe - Interior Shot

Circle cafe is such a warm place to be. A lot of warm looking colors, beautiful simplicity in every corner and feels like a modern comfort hub.

I really like their decoration and furniture as they are really pleasing to the eye.

Circle Cafe - Interior Shot - Tables

The Jumeirah Beach Park Plaza branch has plenty seating options all the way from outdoors (which is essentially in the mall) to comfortable warm seating inside, it is quite medium sized branch.

Walking in, we were welcomed by the staff as the location wasn’t really busy so we caught everyone’s attention and were offered to sit anywhere we felt like. Thinking outdoor would have been a nice change, we picked a table overlooking the mall.

Circle Cafe - Newspaper Menu

As soon as we settled on a table, we were presented with a Newspaper called Circle Times. This is actually their menu, but there is a classical element to Circle Cafe, and this Newspaper menu was just right!

Circle Cafe - Menu

Their menu is quite large (The above image was left high resolution to see their entire menu) with a broad range of healthy options ranging from starters, salads to main courses from all over the world.

The waiter was extremely helpful and had quite a lot of suggestions for us to try, and since I am writing this after the experience, he did not disappoint.

We did have quite a feast at Circle cafe, which is what makes this review a good mix of their menu, but for starters, great experience just visiting here.

We started things off with two small bites (Appetizers):

Circle Cafe - French Fries

Their french fries were pretty straight forward. I was hoping to see something different here, but they were regular fries and were fried well. Nothing special and nothing disappointing. This was served with some Ketchup on the side.

That was probably the least interesting thing in this review. Moving forward, I have a lot to say!

Circle Cafe - Pumpkin, Beetroot and Green Pepper Hummus Trio

This is another special small bite at Circle Cafe called “Pumpkin, Beetroot & Green Pepper Hummus Trio” which came served with basically baked slides of bagels with herbs. This was quite delicious actually and just the right starter for our meal!

The Pumpkin, Beetroot and Green Pepper Hummus was delicious, creamy and light flavored. It was just right. The baked bread did get everywhere and was a bit of a mess, but a delicious one.

Before jumping on to the main courses, we tried one of their bagel sandwiches.

Circle Cafe - Grilled Chicken Salad With Quinoa Tabbouleh

This is their, recommended, Grilled Chicken Sandwich with Quinoa Tabbouleh on the side.

The sandwich has grilled chicken breast, iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, mustard and mayo. it tasted very fresh, light and the flavors were perfectly complimenting each other. There is a special thing to this sandwich that made it a unique one.. The chicken!

The chicken we often get in the UAE, frankly, is a bit bland. It is often spiced up and marinated to give it much flavor, but this chicken was a tad more stringy, juicy and actually flavorful by itself. At first I thought this was probably very good marination, but later came to find out, it wasn’t just that.. more on that in a bit!

For now though, that is a very nice sandwich. The quinoa was fresh, and had a little tabbouleh-ness to it, but still was nice.

Lets move on to the mains, shall we?

Circle Cafe - Circle Lamb Kofta With Vegetable Couscous

The first main dish we ventured into was the Circle Lamb Kofta, served with Vegetable Couscous.

This was very nice as well! The kofta was very succulent, marinated well and grilled to a good temperature. It was well done, but hardly dry.

I would have expected some more flavor to it, but it was very nice. It was served with a garlic yogurt sauce on the side, as this is supposed to be an Arabic style dish.

The Vegetable Coucous though was very nice. I had a bit of couscous before, but never really liked them. This was very nice, soft, full of flavor and the vegetables were very nicely cooked. It did feel a bit like it was home-cooked.

Circle Cafe - Flattened Chicken

The star of the show for me would definitely be their Flattened Chicken. This was served with spiced sweet potato fries, thousand island and peri-peri sauce.

The fries were delicious, very well fried and full of flavor. Definitely better than the regular fries and the herbs on top gave it more flavor too.

The chicken was incredible! The grilling was perfect, the flavors were spot on (as mentioned before) and the peri-peri sauce was actually very spicy, just the way I like it!

I was still very curious about the chicken, and when I asked the waiter, I found out that the chicken is actually brought in from Brazil, which is why it distinctively tasted different than local chicken. Without a doubt, this chicken is worth trying.

We were absolutely stuffed but the waiter insisted we try a dessert, so we did..

Circle Cafe - Four Layer Cake

This is their Four Layer Cake, essentially four layers of chocolate cake. It was actually quite nice, thick and quite chocolate-filled but did not have anything special except that it felt like it was, again, home-made.

Lets face it, home-made food is delicious, but doesn’t necessarily blow your mind. I was still happy with this.

Overall, this was a very good dining experience. The place was just beautiful, the staff were very friendly, the menu was unique, fresh and healthy and the food was very appetizing and unique.

The service: It was brilliant. The staff were always smiling and helpful, we had a lot of questions and requests which were all catered for with a smile and when we had questions that the waiter did not know, he was more than happy to go find out. Overall, I could not complain about the service and they were always very quick to come, listen and serve.

The value: Circle cafe is known to be slightly pricer than average, but when you think about the lovely ambiance, location, staff, menu and quality of food, I think the place is quite reasonable. I would definitely pay as much and more for that Brazilian chicken again, that’s for sure!

Ratings:
The Place:   8 / 10
The Service: 8 / 10
The Food:    7.5 / 10

Overall: 7.8 / 10

I’d really recommend this place if you want a great selection of fresh, healthy and delicious dining options. It even gets better, they have a few branches located around Dubai.

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2015 in Dine In

 

Johnny Rockets – Is their new menu really new?

If there is one thing I dislike, it would be when restaurants I like change their menu. It isn’t fear of change or anything but they tend to lose their edge at times, or remove something that was actually really good. I heard that Johnny Rockets had a new menu and I really needed to check this out!

Johnny Rockets, apparently, is the first Burger place in the UAE (excluding fast food, of course) and only in the past few years started to really come out of its shell and open up in various locations and has gained a lot of popularity. I personally have visited nearly half their branches because I do like their burger and the whole atmosphere, but I will take this on, unbiased!

Johnny Rockets - Coke

I went to the Mall of the Emirates branch for this review.

Walking into the restaurant was typical Johnny Rockets. It looks, feels and sounds like a proper American diner with little Jukeboxes, pop-up straw holder, classic tissue holders, etc

Johnny Rockets - Table Setting

I really like this look and even the booths are in red leather and the counters look like old-school graphite. They have an identity, a style and a theme which I really like.

Walking in, the staff were excited wished and welcomed me as I walked in (Do note, they did not know I was reviewing them, as I like to do) and they showed me to a booth and was presented with their new menu.

Johnny Rockets - New Menu

If you’ve been to Johnny Rockets, the menu doesn’t look like it has changed, right? (The image is a high resolution so you can go through it) and the fact remains that, aside from a new strategy and a couple of new offerings, the menu is the same.. BUT

They have reworked their prices and patty sizes. Let me explain; in the past, their burgers were a bit bigger and costed roughly 36 Dhs on average. Some people found the burgers too big, so with this new work-around strategy, you will pay roughly 29 Dhs for a buger that is a bit smaller, but if you double the patty for 7 Dhs, to roughly 36 Dhs, you’d end up with more meat than you did before. Win Win!

How can you complain about better value for money?

The only concern I had with the location of this Johnny Rockets branch is the noise. It sits exactly where the Mall’s children play area and video games are, which gets a bit noisey. There is also quite a lot of noise from the foodcourt below too, but with a great view.

I ordered quite a few things to see if the change was noticeable and tried a few new menu items too!

Johnny Rockets - Smoke House Burger

To start things off, I went with one of my favorites, their Smoke House burger (single patty) which has; single beef patty, beef bacon, cheddar cheese, and their special Johnny Rockets barbecue ranch sauce.

To my satisfaction, there was no change in taste compared to before, which is a win. As for the taste itself, the burger is very nice. It is a tad on the greasy side, which some people may not like, but the burger is very flavorful, and delicious. There are bits where the beef bacon was a bit hard, but that is expected too. One thing in the burger that is not mentioned in the description is crispy onion rings, which was yummy and crispy. A lovely burger if you like meat with barbecue sauce.

Second on the list, is a new entry, their Garlic Teriyaki Chicken

Johnny Rockets - Garlic Teryaki Chicken

The part that surprised me in this chicken sandwich, and the part which I think is a rare occurrence (As I wouldn’t expect this all the time) is the extended piece of chicken!

The Garlic Chicken Teryaki has a delicious chicken patty, special bulgogi teryaki sauce, deep fried garlic, fresh lettuce and fresh tomatoes.

The chicken was tender, very nice and was juicy. Unfortunately, I did not get enough garlic or teryaki flavors as I would have expected. It was a very nice chicken sandwich, but I expected more flavor to be honest from the sauce department.

For sides, I had two. I started things off with their Jalapeno Poppers, which is a new entry on their menu.

Johnny Rockets - Jalepeno Poppers

In a way, these are the basic Jalapeno Poppers that you’d expect. Crunchy on the outside, filled with cheese and jalapeno, and it had nice flavors but nothing really blew my mind. It wasn’t too spicy or anything. I would say it was averagely nice.

Following the Poppers, I had ordered their Rocket Wings.

Johnny Rockets - Rocket Wings

I did not really enjoy these, which was disappointed as I love Chicken Wings! I ordered half in barbecue sauce and half in traditional buffalo sauce.

Before going into the sauces, the wings were small, and very dry. They were overcooked to my liking.

As for the sauces, the barbecue was nice, although I would have preferred more sauce, and the traditional buffalo sauce was super weird! It was not very spicy but had a very weird chemically kind of taste. It was weird, new to me and slightly strange, and definitely confused me. They may need to revisit the sauces, cooking their wings and amount of sauce they offer.

To accompany all this food, I had ordered their Vanilla Milkshake, as I know their milkshakes are always yum!

Johnny Rockets - Strawberry Milkshake

The flavors of the milkshake was really good and they give you a stainless steel cup which has some more! That was definitely a lot of milkshake, but it was so good! It had Ice cream too (thus the spoon) and was popping with flavor. Definitely delicious and thick!

Overall, the Johnny Rockets experience has not dipped at all. They maintain their amazing staff, good food and their delicious menu entries. Surely there are a few things that need working on, but as long as their burgers remain top-notch as they always have (which was my big concern with their new menu), I am happy!

The service: As expected, they maintained their service levels. Staff are always happy, smiling and serve with a passion. Everytime I would order a drink or so, they’d come over with a smile carrying the straw holder and lift it to pick one up. I was checked up on twice during my visit if I needed anything and the greetings when arriving and leaving are always appreciated.

Service is quick and there is always someone around to assist if needs be. When asked for recommendations they were familiar with the menu and had suggestions with certain orders. The only downfall would be that not all the staff are fully aware of why this new menu was created or how the mechanics work. I personally think if I can tell my customer that they’re getting more value for their money, they’d be happier than ever, and the staff did not know how to portray this to me.

The value: Considering their new strategy, I think the Johnny Rockets value has grown more than ever before. I would say they are priced a little bit below their competitors, if not similar and that is good thing as I do find their quality and selections quite big.

Ratings:
The Place: 7 / 10
The Service: 7 / 10
The Food: 6.5 / 10

Overall: 6.8 / 10

If you love burgers, and like me, want to try them all, I would definitely recommend Johnny Rockets. They have a great selection of delicious burgers. They even give you more burger for your money than ever before, how could we complain about that?

 

 
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Posted by on September 30, 2015 in Dine In

 

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Chickenow – Best Tenders In The World?

If you have read a few reviews on IhabDines.com, you’ll know I love to take bold claims to the test. Chickenow has quite a big one, claiming to have “the world’s best tenders”.

You can imagine how that must have intrigued me! So, to take them on, I visited their Shiekh Zayed Road branch which is very conveniently located in a busy area right beside the Metro station. They have ample interior and outdoor seating but being that we are in Dubai and the weather couldn’t get any worse, I was definitely sitting inside.

Chickenow - Sheikh Zayed Road Branch

 

The only issue I have with Chickenow is the fact that the interior and outdoor lighting is extremely yellow! My pictures are edited to remove as much yellow tint as possible and after a while it was a tad too much for me.

They certainly went for a wood cabin look and the place looks nice and with a cozy feel. The counter is a typical fast food looking counter but quite well spaced out, you wont feel that your food is coming from the back of a dungeon as with other places. The salads are made right in front of you on the counter.

The staff were very nice, polite and welcoming when walking in.

Chickenow - Menu

Chickenow has an interesting menu with a variety of burgers (their highlight is that you can build your own burger), salads, chicken tenders and fried chicken (which can be ordered in different buckets)

Some branches have additional meals such as chicken kabsa, biryani and a signature Chickenow dish with gravy sauce.

Since this was my first visit, I needed some help ordering and thankfully, the staff were more than happy to assist me with my selection.. and boy what a selection I went for!

Chickenow - Cutlery And Condiments

I sat by the window where I found an interesting metal tray where they had stuffed in tissues, cutlery and some condiments. I have some mixed feelings about this and am concerned if the staff maintains the cleanliness of these, but they looked pretty clean to me.

Food did take a little time, but I heard that food at Chickenow is made quite fresh, so I was willing to wait and hoping it was worth the wait.

Within a few minutes, the food started to come… time for some excitement!

Chickenow - Nachos

Lets kick off with a few starters shall we? I started off with their Nachos and they were alright with little flavor, yummy jalapenos and two side sauces; a cheese dip and a garlic tomato sauce. The cheese dip was typical melted nacho cheese dip but the garlic tomato sauce was odd. Maybe they were thinking salsa, but the execution was quite different. It wasn’t bad but it was just different to what I was expecting and the garlic was a tad too strong.

All in all, it was a decent way to wait for my main dishes to come.

I had also sampled their coleslaw, mashed potatoes with gravy and sweet corn while waiting for my food. The coleslaw was not bad but not as flavorsome as I’ve previously had but the crunch of it felt fresh. The mashed potatoes were quite nice with good flavor and finally, the sweet corn was.. well.. as you’d expect from canned sweet corn.

But enough with the starters, lets get into the good stuff!

Chickenow - Southwest Salad

I had ordered their Southwest Salad with grilled chicken and yes, I was expecting some criticism ordering salad from a fast food place, but I wanted to try it out and see what it would be like.

The grilled chicken was very nice, tender and juicy. While some ingredients were really nice like the kidney beans and carrots, the rest had a bit of a refrigerated taste to it, which kind of killed it for me. There were some grilled potatoes on top, which were cold too. Perhaps try their Edamame salad, but i’d pass on the Southwest one.

Chickenow - Mediterranean Tortilla Wrap

First of the main dishes was the Mediterranean Chicken Wrap and before I get into it, there is one aspect of Chickenow which has to be mentioned, and that is that customers can order fried or grilled chicken options for all the orders of burgers and wraps.

Being that I had ordered 2 grilled chicken dishes, I went for fried chicken for this one. At first I wasn’t sure what flavors were they trying to achieve but in the end I figured it out. It was like an Arabic shawerma. The Mediterranean wrap has french fries, pickles, garlic and mayo sauces in it.

I am not sure if fried chicken worked with this kind of flavor, but I would surely recommend the grilled chicken instead. It was quite okay, but did not blow me away.

Chickenow - Meal For One - Chicken Tenders

Just when I was feeling a little skeptical about my dinner at Chickenow, the server brought on my Meal For One – which consists of three chicken tenders, french fries, coleslaw and a serving of grandma sauce.

Grandma sauce is Chickenow’s specialty sauce which is a south western style home made sauce that has amazing flavor! it is slightly salty, a slight tangyness to it with spice – delicious sauce!

The french fries were nice, had good seasoning and a good crunch. Are you ready for the tenders review?

The world’s best chicken tenders is the official claim and although I cannot ignorantly say they are, I can admit that they are very very good!

Without a doubt they beat any fast food chicken tenders I’ve ever had!

Chickenow - Juicy Chicken Tenders

I wanted to share how good the tenders are, so I cut it in half just to show that these chicken tenders are all Chicken! Some places have very little chicken covered in a huge amount of batter, while others have little of both resulting in super thin tenders. At Chickenow, it is clearly a thick cut of chicken that is super tender and juicy with a nice thin later of batter giving it the right amount flavor and crisp it needs. Great tenders.

Chickenow - Original Grilled Chicken Burger

Along with my tenders, they had served the Grandma Chicken Burger I had ordered with grilled chicken. It had chicken breast, turkey bacon, american cheese, iceberg lettuce, pickles, tomatoes and of course, grandma sauce!

It was a nice chicken burger with nice flavors, tender and juicy chicken breast and a nice soft bun. I would say this was a well put together burger. Considering you can create our own burger, you can tailor it to your exact liking but as far as ingredients go, it was pretty good.

Overall, If I had the choice between Chickenow and a competing fried chicken place, I would pick Chickenow without much thought. The restaurant is clean, nice and cozy, the staff are nice, down to earth and helpful, the food is quite decent but if I am visiting again, there is only one thing I would order and it is the same thing I would definitely recommend, the chicken tenders!

The service: As expected from a place like Chickenow – good, smiling and helpful staff who know the menu well and are able to make suggestions based on your mood. I had ordered two fried chicken meals and when I came to order a burger, they were like why not have it grilled instead so you can try out two fried and two grilled. This was quite nice as opposed to just letting me order what ever I wanted without thought. They were quick to serve and were around when anything was needed.

The value: The full Chickenow Menu can be found on their Facebook page, but their Meal For One tenders meal is for 38AED, which might be a little pricey compared to its direct competitors, but there are two main points to be made; the first is that the quality and flavors of the chicken tenders are on another level and secondly, there is a large variety of options on the Chickenow menu starting from 20AED or less.

Ratings:
The Place: 5 / 10
The Service: 6 / 10
The Food: 6 / 10

Overall: 5.7 / 10

If you like fast food or chicken tenders, you have to try Chickenow. The menu has a lot of options, but skip it all and go to the good stuff!

 
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Posted by on July 11, 2015 in Dine In

 

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Galito’s – Quality Peri-Peri Chicken

We all have tried at least one brand of Peri-Peri Chicken in the UAE and it is becoming more of a trend with competitors appearing regularly. Galito’s opened its doors in 1996 in South Africa and along the years opened in various South African cities and now the UAE as well. I was fortunate enough to give it a try at Yas Mall, Abu Dhabi one lovely afternoon.. Curious to know how it was? Lets go!

Galitos - Peri-Peri Sauces

Before we get into the lovely dishes, there is one thing that I learnt from my visit and chat with the general manager; the owners have not disconnected from the brand. I personally believe this is a factor that many international brands suffer from, where they franchise the name and it often goes to hell. We were told that the owners and various managers actually do visit all Galito’s branches world wide, check on produce, cooking, quality, ingredients and ensure that their true standards are maintained. This… is how restaurants should be managed!

The Galito’s promise: “We have recreated the excellence of home cooked nutrition so that you can enjoy ‘just like mom makes it’ chicken without the hassle. Our traditional marinade is made from all natural ingredients infused with selected herbs and spices. We take care to marinate each chicken for at least 24 hours until moist and tender and then they are ready for the Grill.Galito’s…Tastes like home!”

Galitos - View at Yas Mall

To kick things off, Galito’s is now open in 5 locations in Abu Dhabi, and I had the pleasure to enjoy the beautiful views at Yas Mall. Galito’s has nice indoor and outdoor seating, but as the weather was still acceptable at the time, we sat outdoors. I wouldn’t necessarily compliment their outdoor furniture as they were mostly plastic seats and ordinary shared tables.

Are you ready for the food now?

Galitos - Garlic Break and Chick-E-Naise

For the first starter, we had the Garlic Bread with Chick-E-Naise, which is essentially garlic bread with a chicken mayonnaise sauce. This is a new spin-off the traditional garlic bread, I liked it, but had a tad too much Chick-E-Naise. I’d recommend this to be ordered to share with 4 people rather than have more than one per person. Good flavors though.

Galitos - Perimmus and Pita

Alongside the garlic bread, we were presented with the Galito’s Perimmus and Pita bread. This was a very creamy and delicious hummus that was flavored with Peri-Peri. It had just the right amount of spice, thickness and texture. Absolutely loved it. If you like hummus, this will bring a new twist to your favorite starter.

Galitos - Melon Teaser, Laranji and Kiwi MojitoGalitos - African Blues

Galito’s also has an interesting list of mocktails and they certainly were not holding back on us! They brought on 4 out of the 5 mocktails from their menu.
Coco Melancia – Probably my least favorite of the mocktails. It had a nice, subtle blend of watermelon and coconut but did not entirely work for me and felt a bit bland.
Laranji – A very zesty blend of citrus flavors and strawberries. Certainly very refreshing and flavorful
Kiwi Mojito – My favorite, with the right blend of flavors and without a doubt, the yummiest mocktail they had!
Finally, they brought on the African Blues – a mix of peach and lychee. Not the flavors i had in mind and a tad too sweet for my liking, but was quite nice.

To keep it simple, the Kiwi Mojito was the only mocktail that we finished. Their mocktails were nice, but you need to find the one that works for you!

Galitos - Chicken Salad

Their Chicken Salad was as typical as can be. There were some nicely grilled chicken on top of very fresh and crunchy lettuce, tomatoes, capsicum and cucumbers with dressing on top. Nothing much to say here, other than this is definitely a nice, light and fresh salad, especially for the people looking for a healthier alternative.

Are you ready for the stars of the show?

Galitos - Prawn Espetada with O Porto Rice and Fries

 

If you’ve been to other Peri-Peri restaurants, chicken remains the highlight, and although it is at Galito’s they do give you options like the absolutely delicious Prawn Espetada that we tried! It comes with 2 sides of choice and we went with Sweet Potato Fries and O Porto Rice.

The Prawns were fantastic. A tad small, but had an incredible amount of flavor, and spice (especially since I asked for Hot spice). A certain favorite and I would recommend this if you love prawns.
The O Porto Rice was not as good as I had from competitors, a tad sticky and not as flavorful as I would expect.
The Sweet Potato Fries were standard, thick sweet potato cuts seasoned well.

Galitos - Mild Half Chicken with Salad

The moment of truth was here, the Peri-Peri Chicken. Before I jump into the chicken itself, the manager gave us a bit of information worth sharing with you. All Galito’s poultry is brought in daily from local farms, cleaned, prepared and marinated for 24 hours on a daily basis to ensure the highest quality of chicken at no compromise. They had introduced chicken livers as a dish on the menu and pulled it when the suppliers could not supply them to the Galito’s requirements… No compromise. Very nice chicken, fresh, delicious and healthy.

The chicken was definitely grilled very well, but perhaps a tad dry for my personal liking. The flavors were quite nice as we ordered mild spice and it gave me an opportunity to try their bottled sauces as well. The bottles are available for sale at Galito’s and my favorite would be the Hot spice, the rest were lacking in flavor to me.

Galitos - Burger Pizza with Fries

Visiting with children? They, too, can have some fun! There is a small kids section in the menu with interesting creations such as the Chicken Burger Pizza with Fries, which was as straight forward as can be in terms of taste with nothing special but a lot of fun for the kids.

Overall, Galito’s is a very good restaurant. They focus a lot on the brand values of taste, quality and fresh ingredients while being closely monitored by the people who initiated the brand. The staff are really helpful, nice and enthusiastic and were always there for any request. While all this is quite good, the question that is to be asked is, would you rather Galito’s or Nando’s?

I will leave that answer to you. Galito’s has its unique flavors, menu items and standards of freshness, quality and processes that are almost unprecedented.

The Service: It was very good. Plenty of happy staff serving both indoors, outdoors and always happy to serve. The manager and head chef were both around at all times to assist with any inquiries we had. They greeted us when we arrived and were happy to wish us well when we left.

The Value: One of the key factors of Galito’s message, or at least their message in South Africa, is to be offer great, fresh and delicious food at an affordable price. This is not exactly the case here in the UAE as Galito’s seem to follow the standard pricing for this kind of restaurant. The Prawn Espetada was AED109, Half a Chicken with One Side was AED45, Chicken Salad was AED26, etc.

Ratings:
The Place:    5.5 / 10
The Service: 6.5 / 10
The Food:      6  / 10

Overall: 6 / 10

If you happen to be at Al Wahda, Al Naeem, Dalma, Yas or Marina Mall in Abu Dhabi, I’d recommend you try Galito’s at least once. I would love to know your feedback too!

 
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Posted by on April 10, 2015 in Dine In

 

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Peppermill – Eastern Mangrove, Abu Dhabi

One of the best things about the UAE is the number of cuisines available, and Indian cuisine is almost everyone’s favorite. That is why I have been anticipating this review ever since I received the lunch invite!

They have several branches in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, but I was fortunate enough to get an invitation to the Eastern Mangrove one, with a gorgeous view!

Peppermill - Eastern Mangrove

Peppermill has a large indoor dining area and even outdoor seating for when the weather is just right with an exceptional view of the marina.

Peppermill - Eastern Mangrove Interior

For this review, I was seated indoors (as the weather wasn’t pleasant) and was welcomed by the restaurant manager. Can’t guarantee that my experience at the Eastern Mangrove would be the same in other branches but the manager was exceptionally knowledgeable about the food, their origins and how some dishes evolved into modern Indian menus. It was an absolute pleasure getting to discuss his favored dishes and hearing all about them. If you ever plan on visiting Peppermill at the Eastern mangrove, I recommend a quick chat with the manager!

Peppermill - Table Starters

All tables are served with the starters above, to get your palettes tickled with exceptional flavors of sweet, mint and spice.

Peppermill - Mulligatawny Soup

For my starter, I began with the Mulligatawny Soup, which is a unique Lentil Soup with a hint of basmati rice and chicken. The soup, surprisingly, resembled the light Arabic version of Lentil soup found in Levant cuisine. It was really flavorful, light, fresh and just the right start to a meal. The manager kindly walked me through the origins of lentil soup, and how the “poor man’s dish” became one of the most popular soups in indian cuisine. Definitely a great starter.

Peppermill - Karare Palak Chaat

This was an all-new for me, Karare Palak Chaat which is basically batter-fried spinach topped with mint, tamarind chutney and yoghurt sprinkled with spices and coriander. This is the first time I tasted spinach in this form, and I got to admit it was delicious. The starter did lose its form as it got soggy after some time, but while still crispy, it was delicious and popping with flavor.

Peppermill - Strawberry Colada

While waiting for the main dishes to be prepared, and boy were there many dishes waiting for me, I was presented with their Strawberry Colada, a refreshing drink if you’re into strawberries.

I often would want to try something new, but I was badly wanting to try the Butter Chicken!

Peppermill - Butter Chicken

Unfortunately for me, I was expecting wonders as I was impressed by Peppermill and the dish did not live up to the hyped expectations. Do not get me wrong, the Butter Chicken was very creamy, rich and nice, but it did not blow me away in terms of flavor. There was plenty in a serving for two people, and the chicken was tender, juicy and the cubes were just the right size. I liked it a lot, but was begging for a little more flavor. Maybe I am asking too much!

Peppermill - Garlic Cheese Naan and Pudina Paratha

The manager recommended two types of bread, the Garlic Cheese Naan and the Pudina Paratha. To be honest, they were delicious but admittedly, the Garlic Cheese Naan might not have been the best flavor to go with the Butter Chicken. The bread alone though, was amazing. The Pudina Paratha is essentially a whole wheat flat bread flavored with mint and this was just right, not too minty, and worked really well with the curry. The menu is huge and has over 10 types of bread!

Peppermill - Kadai Prawns

It wouldn’t be complete without a unique specialty dish by the chef, and I was lucky enough to get one! The dish is traditionally called the Kadai Paneer, which is Diced Indian Cottage Cheese cooked with onions and pepper, topped with fresh coriander seeds and red chilies, and the specialty dish was called Kadai Prawns, which was Black tiger prawns in a onion tomato mix & kadai spices. This was definitely the dish of the visit. The prawns were quite large, tasted extremely fresh, cooked to perfection and the spices just made it perfect! I loved every bit of it. As you can tell by now, I was served a lot of food and this was the only dish I actually finished.

If that wasn’t enough, they brought me a platter of Peppermill’s popular grills to try!

Peppermill - Mixed Kebab Platter

This platter was the only dish that wasn’t served in full size.. well.. there was no way I could eat all this food! Here are the three grills:

Seekh Kebab – Minced lamb with spices, hand rolled over in iron skewers, slow cooked in a clay oven. I really liked this and found it quite spicy. Certainly enough flavors to last you a while!
Tandoori Chicken – Chicken delicately spiced in rare spices and yoghurt baked in tandoor for enhanced flavors. This was also a very nice grill, I would have opted for more spice but certainly delicious.
Tandoori Malai Prawn – One of the nicest grilled prawns I had tasted in a while, very nice flavors, and lightly spiced.

It does seem like they are very good with prawns at Peppermill as both prawn dishes were exceptional.

Peppermill - Chicken Biryani

And just as I was about to explode, I was introduced to their Chicken Biryani

Lovely display and serving but the flavors lacked for me. The rice was cooked well, and the chicken was very tender but there was a lack in flavor. I had a quick chat with the manager as everything had a lot of flavor but the biryani didnt. He explained that there are various levels of spice that can be ordered and every level is one round of chili water applied to the biryani. I tried to have it spiced a bit and although it became a bit more flavorful, it wasn’t where I needed it to be.

I loved the rice, chicken and presentation for sure, but the overall biryani wasn’t up to expectation.

I was about to leave but then…

Peppermill - Shahi Tukda

The manager brought on the Shahi Tukda – Toasted brioche caramelized and served with pistachio ice cream drizzled with saffron sauce and topped with a pistachio biscotti (all made in house!). I cannot begin to express how incredible this dessert was. The little sponge-cake-like brioche in the bottom was super soft, the ice cream was to-die-for and together was just heavenly. I could not breathe but it would have been an absolute waste to not finish this, and so I did! Incredible dessert and not too sweet either with a lovely amount of pistachio to go around. Absolutely loved it.

Overall, this was an exceptional experience of Indian cuisine. Peppermill would be considered a high end Indian restaurant but it actually is quite decent. It was a great lunch with delicious, unique and fresh food, cooked by people who definitely knew what they were doing and served by people who knew the food just as much as the people who made it. The menu is huge, and has about a hundred or more dishes to choose from.

The Service: It was very good! I was there just when the lunch peak had begun and the amount of staff going around indoors and outdoors serving people was sufficient. Response times were decent and the staff were always incredibly happy to serve. I may keep repeating this, but the manager was truly the highlight of the staff at Peppermill. He had incredible knowledge of the dishes, their origins and ingredients.

The Value: A digital copy of the menu can be found here: http://www.peppermill.me/pdf/pappermill-menu-online.pdf and it is priced quite well for high end Indian cuisine.

Ratings:
The Place:    7 / 10
The Service: 8 / 10
The Food:     8 / 10

Overall: 7.7 / 10

If you are hungry for Indian Cuisine, Peppermill is a definitely recommendation. Great place, fresh ingredients, friendly staff and a must-have experience.

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2015 in Dine In

 
 
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