What’s it like: Walls of twinkling candles invite you inside, where a majlis-style lounge and bar leads into the main restaurant space. Yes, there is gold and chandeliers here, but not the kind you’d expect – it is a matte, burnished gold, and a minimalist teardrop shaped chandelier, that convey Arabesque, but in a sophisticated, understated manner. Guided by the genuinely hospitable restaurant manager, we were quick to order Acili Ezme, a finely chopped vegetable, tomato and chilli dip, as part of our mezze, eager as we were to recreate our Istanbul holiday memories. Alongside, we ordered the signature Pide (a Turkish flatbread pizza), and a delicious scallop moussaka – baked scallop served in its shell, on a bed of eggplant and baked cheese. For mains, I opted for a classic Adana kebab (marinated minced lamb on a skewer), served with bulghur pilaf – what a revelation that was – and grilled vegetables. My partner’s chicken stuffed with rice was another unique discovery – served with mashed potatoes, the slightly sweetish chicken dish unravelled the complex layers of flavours and fragrances typical of Turkish cuisine with each bite. For dessert, we uncharacteristically ordered something quite un-authentic – chocolate fondant with vanilla ice cream – to share. We were assured this counts as ‘Modern Turkish’, but it doesn’t really matter, as it was one of the best versions of this European classic we’ve ever tried.
If you want to go: The four-course summer set menu is Dhs250 per person, call 04-3176000. – Sudeshna Ghosh
Best for: Arabic with a difference