MA­JLIS AL­FA­REEJ Fu­sion meets tra­di­tion at this new Emirati out­let

What's On (Abu Dhabi) - - CONSUME -

ajlis Al­fa­reej is all about the let­ter F: food, fu­sion and fam­ily. The brain­child of a hus­band and wife team, it’s the lat­est in a slew of Emirati out­lets that have opened in the past year, but this one wants to be a lit­tle dif­fer­ent. While you will find tra­di­tional dishes on the menu, there’s a few mod­ern twists as well, such as foukhara al noukhatha (mixed seafood with pep­pers and onions and a pastry crust), a pis­ta­chio sponge cake and smooth­ies with Red Bull.

What is a lit­tle more tra­di­tional is the decor. The sand-coloured walls and low seat­ing are more be­douin in style, and there’s nods to the UAE’s past on the walls – paint­ings show camels trekking across the desert and mod­els of old sail­ing boats and steer­ing wheels line the walls.

All the dishes are well pre­sented here but veg­gies be­ware: this is not the venue for you. Even a starter of bro­colli soup came with chicken broth. Served topped with a layer of puffy pastry, it was hearty and rich and a good start to our meal. The rocca salad with straw­ber­ries and pomegranante seeds will please meat-shun­ners and was fresh and zesty, although some might find the taste a

Mlit­tle too sharp and sour. A por­tion of fluffy khameer bread from the break­fast menu was also de­cent, although the two dips it’s served with, date syrup and cream cheese, are po­lar op­po­sites and can leave taste­buds feel­ing a litle con­fused. From the mains, the afore­men­tioned mixed seafood with pastry was also a win­ner, thanks to a combo of fish, cala­mari and prawns in a rich tomato sauce. The more tra­di­tional mach­bous la­hem (lamb cooked in rice with chick­peas and lentils) was also of a high qual­ity, al­beit a tad heavy. You’ll want to snooze af­ter­wards. We sug­gest though you skip the fried fish balls: while they looked the part, they were or­di­nary, stodgy and bland. If you want to try a lo­cal dish, the chicken with oats por­ridge and ghee is un­usual, but not un­pleas­ant and works well mopped up with the khameer bread. For dessert, the pista cake, a pis­ta­chio sponge cake served with ice cream, was ex­cep­tional – light, warm and fluffy. The cof­fee and date cake un­for­tu­nately though didn’t work. It was way too sweet and had a con­sis­tency more akin to a blanc­mange. It had po­ten­tial but missed the mark.

A cou­ple of things do need tweak­ing here. Most of the dishes were served in just a few min­utes, caus­ing chaos on the ta­ble, and the staff, while in­cred­i­bly friendly and like­able, lacked knowl­edge of the menu. That’s im­por­tant con­sid­er­ing many ex­pats might not have tried lo­cal dishes be­fore.

Over­all, though, it’s a de­cent start for Ma­jlis Al­fa­reej and the restau­rant is a pleas­ing in­tro­duc­tion to Emirati food.

Dar­wish Tower, Em­bassies Dis­trict, Abu Dhabi, daily 9am to mid­night. Tel: (02) 3048255. Taxi: Be­hind the Hol­i­day Inn on Air­port Road

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