While views of the Burj Khalifa should work in a restaurant’s favour, a huge billboard does its best to ruin what is perhaps the only redeeming aesthetic aspect there is to Fakhreldine Restaurant & Café. Location-wise there’s little to be said for this 24-hour Lebanese joint, unless of course you happen to be a car park enthusiast – the al-fresco terrace boasts views of the multi-storey and sandpit variety. But in spite of the uninspiring vista it’s advisable to park yourself outside, because thick shisha smoke seems to be a pervading feature of the decor.
The menu did little to muster any expectations that this otherwise grotty restaurant might be a hidden gem in waiting. Starters consisted of the usual suspects, from tabbouleh to soujouk to shanklish, and, since I was sitting in such close proximity to Sheikh Zayed Road, I hoped to combat the inevitable inhalation of car fumes with something green and healthy, and ordered what turned out to be a massive tabbouleh salad. To the kitchen’s credit, it was heaving with fresh bulgur, tomato, cucumber and finely chopped mint.
The options for main course were, inevitably, propped up by grilled specials, namely the mixed grill, which my waiter was keen to push (nothing to do with the price tag, I’m sure), as well as manakish and sandwiches. I decided to venture off piste to find a more memorable dish to write about, but limited options landed me with a lentil soup and a lamb-cube sandwich. Hindsight might be 20/20, but I should have had more sense than to order any food in cuboid form (food should never have right angles unless it’s cheese). While the first bite proved encouraging (the lamb was slightly gamey, but agreeably so), as I chowed through the sandwich (which turned out to be a wrap), the meat became tough and sinewy. The lentil soup proved better – a sprinkling of cayenne gave it life, though I was disappointed there were no whole, hearty lentils to inject some body.
For texture, I was instead given a side of crispy pitta croutons, which, when eaten on their own, tasted disconcertingly like chlorine.
From what I saw and ate during my lunchtime visit, I could only deduce that Fakhreldine Restaurant & Café is a place for late-night shisha smokers (there are 17 different flavours on offer), who are welcome to visit 24 hours a day. For those who find themselves in search of a late-night snack, however, it’s advisable to head elsewhere.
The bill (for one) 1x Tabbouleh Dhs20 1x Lentil soup Dhs18 1x Lamb-cube sandwich Dhs25 1x Large water Dhs14 Total (excluding service) Dhs77
Fakhreldine Restaurant & Café