Zaytinya Lebanese Restaurant, Abu Dhabi

Close to Khalifa Park is Al Seef Village Mall, a small but well equipped local mall that first opened at the end of 2014. I’d never been down there before and was surprised to find a really rather useful, small sized mall, but with a decent sized Carrefour Express, a Mothercare, Funville play centre and a fair few other outlets, both for speciality shopping and everyday needs. On the first floor of the mall is Zaytinya Lebanese which, it turns out, is an excellent local find…

We went along for a Friday lunchtime bite and expected that it would be a pretty quiet time for a mall in this location, but were surprised to see a number of people dining there already.

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There was a good mix of people, from locals to individuals, groups of friends and families. Of course, Lebanese restaurants are usually a great place to go with families – there’s an extensive menu and kids are positively welcomed and provided for with high chairs and friendly staff.

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Everything on the menu is homemade, in-house. They even bake their own fresh bread so you know everything you’re getting is very fresh and baked with love 🙂

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As is easy to do from a mezze menu, of course we ordered far too much food – but you’ve got to try a bit of everything haven’t you?!

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One of my all time favourites is manakeesh – I just love a cheesy manakeesh and between the fresh bread and the thick, sizzling cheese, this was a manakeesh to die for… Just look at it – it’s massive too! Who needs pizza when you can get perfect cheesy manakeesh like this?!

So aside from manakeesh we also tried the hummus shawarma which as the name suggests was hummus topped with chicken shawarma, patata harra – potato wedges with chilli, garlic and lemon juice, the moushakal plate to get a taste of a mix of hot mezze – rokakat (like spring rolls but cheese filled), Kebbeh (fried lamb dumplings), Fatayer (pastry triangles with spinach and minced onions) and Sambousek (little lamb pastry parcels).

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I’m partial to a bit of hummus, and I love a good chicken shawarma but I’ve never had them together before! It was actually a taste combination I really liked and I was surprised how well the fresh, zingy, hummus flavours worked with the shawarma. You’ll have to try it – it might just be one of my new favourites!

Mr. Arabian Notes loves his Patata Harra spicy potatoes, and these were no exception – beautifully cooked and not too spicy – just really well-balanced in terms of flavour and texture.

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For the cold mezze we also tried the Babaghanouj, Kishkki and a Zaytinya specialty, the fattoush salad. Yep – I told you we had heaps of food… and we haven’t even got to the main courses yet!

Folks who hail from Lebanon or those who really know their Lebanese food will be excited to note that I mentioned Kishkki… A homemade labneh mixed with crushed wheat and walnuts. I’m told this is a well-known dish in Lebanon that can’t be found anywhere else in Abu Dhabi, and it’s well worth a taste.

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For the main courses we went for the mixed grill (always good for hedging your bets and getting a taste of several different things!) and the Zaytinya Taouk. I am a massive fan of chicken taouk – I just love the stuff, and Zaytinya Taouk is a unique spin on this dish with chicken cubes marinated in garlic and yoghurt instead of the usual tomato and yoghurt. I would order the Zaytinya Taouk again and again – I really liked that it was a bit different and the taste was smooth and beautiful. You’ve got to try it!

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Zaytinya are really proud of the fact that everything is homemade and fresh, they don’t buy anything ready-made to use and this really comes across in the taste. Yes we had a lot of food, but once you see the menu for yourself and the quality of the food you’ll understand why – it’s just too easy to get carried away!

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Needless to say we went home very full, but very satisfied! And, in excellent news, they also offer delivery within the locality and surrounding neighbourhoods at this end of the island… (whoop! That’s dinner sorted this Thursday then!).

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A cup of Café Blanc to finish

Last but not least, I was offered the Café Blanc to finish the meal. I had no idea what this was or even that it wasn’t actually coffee, but again, I’m told that it’s a Lebanese specialty and very common to have at the end of a meal to aid your digestion. For an authentic Lebanese meal, it’s another thing you should try at least once… and I won’t spoil it by explaining what it is for those of you who don’t know, just give it a go. It’s a pleasant surprise I assure you 🙂

Zaytinya Lebanese Restaurant is located on the first floor of the Al Seef Village Mall near Khalifa Park in Abu Dhabi and you can find out more about them by clicking onto their website here.

Now go forth and eat! 🙂

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