Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Sidra, Dubai

Another taste of Lebanon in Al Dhiyafa Road

My quest for the perfect Lebanese experience in Dubai continues along Al Dhiyafa Rd, where the bright lights of Sidra call me to try their tasty morsels. What delights was I going to discover this time? Shall I be set in my ways and order falafel for the umpteenth time, or shall I be brave and order something with an unrecognisable name? Luckily, I am building up an extensive vocabulary of Lebanese dishes thanks to the takeaway menu from Labneh wa Zaatar and trusty Google.

As I entered Sidra, I had yet another flashback of my student years when I pounded Berlin's immigrant quarter in search of the perfect veggie kebab. The sweet smell of strawberry shisha combined with a distinctive Levantine spicy smell brought me right back to my wild years. I instantly knew this would be a place where I'd be spending many a Dubai dinner in the years to come. Sidra has a beautiful mural painted on the wall of a Mediterranean coastline, the other walls being glass. For those cooler days, you can soak up the atmosphere outside in a simple but effective garden which somehow minimises the noise of the traffic.

I received a warm welcome from the staff, along with a plate of pickles, olives, labneh and fresh out the oven pittas. Delish. As I perused the menu, I knew it was going to be another difficult choice as there were so many delectable options to pick from. After much deliberation, I chose 'Potatoes with coriander', a predictable Falafel Sandwich and some Halloumi while my carnivorous colleagues settled with the Shish Tawuk as per usual. In a similar vein to Al Mallah, Sidra also do a fine selection of fresh juices so I sampled a home made lemonade. The drinks here are slightly more expensive than Al Mallah but are tasty nonetheless, the lemonade perking me up from the tiring heat.

My potatoes arrived and words couldn't describe how moreish they were! Despite being advertised as plain old potatoes with coriander, they were also fantastically spicy and, unlike Al Mallah, they were boiled as opposed to fried. Fans of Bombay Aloo and Patatas Bravas will undoubtedly love these spicy morsels. The Halloumi was a perfect rubbery yet chewy consistency, exactly like Halloumi should be. Finally, the falafel sandwich was one of the best my keen tastebuds had ever sampled, not too dry like some of the European ones, not dripping with sauce like some of the British ones. This was the right combination of falafel, hummus, pickled turnip and tabbouleh- it was like a mini meze in one neatly packed wrap!

The desserts looked pretty delicious with my old fave Banana Split on the menu, but I was stuffed to the gills after my feast, so I settled on settling my stomach with a Turkish coffee. Turkish coffee is the holy grail of potent coffees for me- more exciting than espresso, more fragrant than any artificial concoction that St*rbucks can come up with. The blend of coffee and cardamom make for the perfect, dessert in a cup experience.

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Hi Vindaloo Kings and Queens!