5 star if­tars

Treat your­self to a lav­ish spread come sun­set with one of th­ese fab­u­lous feasts

Friday - - Leisure -

The Ad­dress Dubai Ma­rina

With its Con­stel­la­tion Ball­room decked out in re­gal silk drapes and a mouth-wa­ter­ing se­lec­tion of global gourmet food on of­fer, The Ad­dress Dubai Ma­rina is the epitome of if­tar style.

Big enough to hold 550, the fourth­floor sump­tu­ous set­ting still man­ages to be warm and invit­ing, mainly due to its decor – tra­di­tional Ara­bian with a chic twist. “It feels like we’re at a wed­ding but with­out a bride and groom,” my hus­band whis­pered as we chose a ta­ble, and he was right.

Fam­i­lies, friends and col­leagues all sat to­gether, a hum of ban­ter and laugh­ter fill­ing the air, as we waited for sun­set so we could be­gin our feast. And what an im­pres­sive spread it was – the menu was al­most as large as the venue. Along with the usual if­tar fare of cold mezze – de­li­ciously creamy hum­mus, fat­touch and tab­bouleh, along with veg­e­tar­ian warak enab (stuffed vine leaves) there was an ar­ray of in­ter­na­tional dishes.

At the salad sta­tion, I piledmy plate high with Greek and toma­toand-moz­zarella salad, cous­cous and roast-pump­kin salad, then happily mademy own Cae­sar side salad, topped with crunchy crou­tons. My hus­band mean­while had dived straight into the mains, com­ing back first with a tra­di­tional lamb ouzi – what else? – and Ara­bic grill, mak­ing sure he had enough room to sam­ple the chicken shawarma. His smile said it all as he cleared his plate, then went back for more lamb with Ara­bic rice.

I have al­ways loved the tiny warm mezze so de­voured a cou­ple of spinach fa­tayer, cheese rolls and falafel next be­fore try­ing to de­cide be­tween an Asian, In­dian or Ital­ian main dish. There was fresh sushi, plump dim sum, tempt­ing egg-fried rice, a live pasta sta­tion with chefs cre­at­ing made-to-or­der far­falle car­bonara, penne arrab­bi­ata and fusilli po­modoro (the fusilli was just like my Ital­ian mother-in-law makes) and a de­li­cious and au­then­tic-tast­ing veg­etable lasagna.

For chil­dren (and their par­ents) there were hot dogs, mini burg­ers, chicken nuggets and fish gou­jons, while en­tire fam­i­lies were tuck­ing into the In­dian cui­sine. I’d left just enough room for a taste of veg­etable jal­frezi, biryani and but­tery naan bread, but it was a squeeze to fit in any dessert.

Luck­ily, as well as baklava and umm ali there were mini tiramisus,

berry tri­fle, crème brÛlée, lemon meringue tart and crème fraiche cheese­cake, so my hus­band and I man­aged to try a few, each more de­li­cious than the last, be­fore ad­mit­ting de­feat.

We left vow­ing to re­turn. This if­tar was amaz­ing. To­gether with the stylish venue, and rich and invit­ing am­bi­ence, it was a five-star feast for all the fam­ily.

De­tails: If­tar buffet avail­able from sun­set un­til 9pm, suhour menu avail­able from 8pm on­wards. If­tar buffet at Dh155 per per­son, the suhour is à la carte with no min­i­mum spend. Call 04 436 7777 or email meet.dubaima­rina@thead­dress.com.

Radis­son Blu Deira Creek

One of my favourite child­hood Ra­madan mem­o­ries is hav­ing been in­vited for if­tar at my best friend’s house.

I would watch qui­etly as she and her fam­ily prayed to­gether. When they were done, my friend would look up at me with her big eyes – huge with pride that she com­pleted an­other day of fast­ing and even big­ger with ex­cite­ment at what was wait­ing for us in the kitchen. I’m no longer 10 years old and, sadly, no longer have ac­cess to my friend’s mum’s home-cooked feasts. How­ever, I re­cently re­mem­bered those good times as I headed to an if­tar at Radis­son Blu Deira Creek’s Shabestan Restau­rant.

The lo­ca­tion may only be the sec­ond floor of the ho­tel but en­ter­ing Shabestan is like tak­ing a jour­ney to a very dis­tant time. At the en­trance is a tra­di­tional clay oven that is manned by a faith­ful 26-year-vet­eran bread-maker with Radis­son Blu. If he were in my kitchen mak­ing his bread for me ev­ery day, I would have to in­vest in some se­ri­ous gym time! The bread is pip­ing hot, de­li­cious, and fresh out of the oven a minute af­ter you get to your ta­ble – per­fect for dip­ping into your hum­mus and us­ing in­stead of your cut­lery. The buffet spread was set beau­ti­fully with dishes that smelt so good they held the prom­ise of a very full and very happy tummy. Prom­ise kept, in­deed. Fine tra­di­tional Ira­nian and Ara­bic dishes were on of­fer, so don’t hes­i­tate to in­dulge in the fresh­est of sal­ads, tasti­est mar­i­nated meat ke­babs, per­fumed rice, homely yet classy stewed fish – which I couldn’t get enough of – and a whole lot more to keep your taste buds en­ter­tained.

And don’t for­get to seal the evening with a sweet kiss from the dessert ta­ble.

My top tip? Ask for one of the ta­bles in­side the pri­vate rooms.

De­tails: Dh139 per per­son in­clud­ing Ira­nian tea and Ra­madan juices. Call 04 205 7333 or email in­fo­cen­ter. dxbza@radis­son­blu.com.

69

Raf­fles Dubai

The mo­ment I en­tered Azur, Raf­fles’ all-day din­ing restau­rant, I re­alised that lav­ish can be el­e­gant too. Con­verted into a very classy yet ca­sual ma­jlis set­ting to suit the oc­ca­sion, it was the mas­sive spread of food that caught my at­ten­tion.

A buffet with around 65 dishes (I counted) as well as live cook­ing and carv­ing sta­tions manned by very ef­fi­cient and af­fa­ble staff were well spread out on one side of the room, en­sur­ing that there was enough space to move round.

As I nib­bled on del­i­cately crafted, golden-brown fa­tay­ers, sam­pled de­light­fully de­li­cious beet­root moutabel, dug into suc­cu­lent pieces of meat with flaky cheese-stuffed saj bread and pon­dered over sin­ful minia­ture desserts, I re­alised that Azur is one place where charm, com­fort and culi­nary ex­cel­lence all come to­gether to give you an ex­pe­ri­ence that is truly sa­ti­at­ing.

De­tails: Dh185 inclusive of soft drinks, juices and wa­ter. Call 04 324 9888 or email at din­ing.dubai@raf­fles.com.

Grand Hy­att Dubai

Ra­madan as a time for re­flec­tion and re­straint, but also a time for fam­ily, food and friends, is the con­cept that runs through the heart of this in­dul­gent if­tar.

Grum­bling stom­achs and sugar crav­ings need look no fur­ther, as the de­lec­ta­ble au­then­tic Ara­bic cui­sine in Al Ameera will have even the fullest of stom­achs reach­ing for round two!

The Grand Hy­att’s op­u­lent ball­room has been trans­formed into a warm, Ara­bian haven at this time of the year where ob­servers can end their fast with tra­di­tional dates and sooth­ing teas. From sun­set the room is heady with abun­dant aro­mas of tempt­ing treats em­a­nat­ing from live cook­ing sta­tions. Chefs from Jor­dan, Le­banon and Syria com­bine re­gional flavours and culi­nary ex­per­tise to pro­duce a med­ley of Mid­dle Eastern favourites.

You can choose from an ar­ray of dishes in­clud­ing tan­ta­lis­ing Tu­nisian lamb cous­cous, Jor­dan’s Chicken mousakhen, Le­banon’s healthy hind­beh bil zeit or dandelion leaves in olive oil (pre­pared even bet­ter than my

Teta’s!) and the Emi­rati dish of the day. But it wasn’t just the ver­sa­til­ity and qual­ity of the feast that was a star at­trac­tion dur­ing my visit; the way the food is cooked and pre­sented is a real draw.

Tra­di­tion­ally dressed Abu Ala Al Hal­abi poured Ra­madan juices at the ta­bles, and the guest chefs from Jor­dan’s Habiba Kitchen made kn­ufa (se­same bread rings filled with cheese and honey) so well that there was a con­stant queue.

Whether you have a sweet tooth or not, you’ll want to watch the tra­di­tional beat­ing of worl­drenowned Syr­ian bak­dash ice cream.

The Al Ameera if­tar is all about lo­cal spirit and fam­ily ties and, while the fo­cus is cer­tainly the menu, the in­gre­di­ents in­clude an au­then­tic am­bi­ence, Ara­bian decor and re­gional en­ter­tain­ment. Whether you’re fast­ing or not, this is well worth a try!

De­tails: Grand If­tar Dh175 per per­son in­clud­ing soft drinks. Call 04 317 2222 or email dubai.grand@hy­att.com.

Al Qasr Dubai

Over­look­ing the invit­ing pool and gar­dens of the ma­jes­tic Al Qasr ho­tel, Khay­mat Al Ba­har of­fers a per­fect, re­laxed set­ting to savour au­then­tic Ara­bic cui­sine this Ra­madan. It’s the first year the restau­rant has run an if­tar buffet, and it is dish­ing up an ar­ray of de­li­cious food from dif­fer­ent Ara­bic coun­tries. End your fast with a se­lec­tion of hot and cold mezzes – from de­li­cious spinach fa­tay­ers, to hot-out-of-the-oven cheese man­a­keesh and vine leaves – be­fore start­ing on the mains.

There is a wide se­lec­tion of hearty dishes to sate your ap­petite. I be­gan with the ten­der and aro­matic chicken tagine – a Moroc­can spe­cial­ity – and the mixed grill (a plat­ter of lamb and chicken ke­babs, and lamb chops) be­fore sam­pling the de­li­ciously creamy veal har­res (veal shank and wheat, cooked for eight hours then blended to­gether and coated with lo­cal ghee) – a def­i­nite must-try that com­ple­mented the da­wood basha (prime lamb meat­balls braised in an in­tense onion and tomato sauce) won­der­fully.

To end the evening, I in­dulged my sweet tooth with a se­lec­tion of Ara­bic and Moroc­can pas­tries and pud­dings. The umm ali was my over­all favourite dessert, so del­i­cately sweet and per­fumed with the sub­tle flavour of rose wa­ter. Al­though this tra­di­tional dessert is usu­ally made with cow’s milk, dur­ing Ra­madan the restau­rant is mak­ing it with camel milk in­stead.

De­tails: From sun­set to 8.30pm, Dh190 per per­son in­clud­ing bev­er­ages. For reser­va­tions call 04 366 6730 or email MJrestau­rants@ jumeirah.com.

The suhour ter­race at The Ad­dress Dubai Ma­rina serves many of the same Ara­bic spe­cial­i­ties it of­fers at the if­tar

The Ad­dress Dubai Ma­rina’s if­tar ball­room is swathed in red

drapes

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UAE

© PressReader. All rights reserved.