Marina residents may visit global chain - but the rest of us may not
To get the best from this eclectic selection, my date and I opted for the cold mezze platter for starters and a spatchcock chicken and black-rock sizzling steak for mains. Our waiter, possibly the nicest man in Dubai, scribbled down our order before running – literally running – back to the kitchen. I took this opportunity to grumble to my date about the size of the tables, which were too large for guests to conduct any semblance of muted conversation.
My murmurings of discontent were corked by the arrival of bread, garlic-chilli sauce, balsamic vinegar and grated cheese – not the most conventional of condiments, but then Arabiska isn’t the most conventional of restaurants. The bread was served sweet and cold (no fault of our waiter, mind, he brought it as fast as his legs could carry him), but I nevertheless managed to munch through half of it before our mezze platter arrived.
Occupied mostly by fresh salad doused in vinaigrette, the platter also featured two unexciting dollops of hummus and baba ganoush, and two tasty yet meagre fatayers and falafel. We’d also ordered an arayes, though this got lost in the kitchen: the black-stone sirloin steak arrived soon after. This, we were told, was the speciality, but the fact that the meat was exposed to what was effectively a red-hot rock meant the outside of the meat was burnt and stringy, though the interior did offer some (softer) respite.
Inexcusably, the spatchcock chicken arrived well after I’d eaten what I could of the steak (I didn’t touch the cool, starchy fries). This was no fault of the friendly waiter, who we could see scurrying back and forth to check on the progress of our order; we assumed it was caused by disarray in the kitchen. This said, the chicken proved more appetising than the steak, with crisp, garlicky skin and soft flesh, although the cinnamon rice was a little too sweet.
Just as we were feeling full, the arayes (like a thin, flat calzone stuffed with beef) arrived. This, if anything, was one of the highlights of the meal, the crisp bread and warm meat filling making for a hearty, sizeable starter. It’s just a pity it wasn’t served before everything else, as it was meant to be.
Arabiska is in its early throes of life, so the kitchen still has time to get its act together. As it stands, however, the menu lacks unity and direction in its attempts to serve something for everyone on the multicultural Marina Walk. If and when it adopts a less-is-more approach, it might be worth visiting, but only then.
The bill (for two)
1x Arabic mezze Dhs40
1x Arayes Dhs40
1x Chicken Dhs42
1x Sirloin steak Dhs95
Total (excluding service) Dhs197 Arabiska
Sonny Jul 25, 2013 09:14 am
Utter nonsense these negative comments(from competition perhaps) or things have improved drastically since the negative reviews. I have been going for the last 6 months and have only positive things to say. Food is good, service is great, Managers could not do enough for me when wanting to watch English Premier League matches or any other sporting event I have asked for. And the Shisha staff are amongst the best I have experienced so far in Dubai. So 2 BIG Thumbs up from me.
Adam Apr 16, 2013 07:10 am
I want to take the time to thank everyone for their comments and opinions as they are valuable and important. I do agree with a few things that Mr. Oliver said. Today is a year later, and all those comments were taken into consideration and tackled for a much better experience.
There has been drastic improvements with the service and the food today. The menu has changed to add more Arabic dishes, tables changed to the smaller size, but most importantly the quality of the food.
I would suggest to all of you who said "No" and Mr. Oliver to revisit this restaurant again, and I will look forward to your opinions. These changes would have not been done probably without your comments, so I thank you for that!
Narayan Aug 07, 2012 08:02 pm
What a waste of a good great food concepts with a terrible service to potential guests, being a part of the hospitality business for over 17 years ,I have seen the worst service manager ever, congratulations for showing how not to run a bad restaurant and to teach how a bad manager can hurt great food .
fady May 01, 2012 12:00 am
Dear Mr. oliver,
i dont agree what you wrote but its your opinion coz i went and it was perfect, the food was delicious and the price is reasonable , for the table i am with you its to big but also their is small table ,for the service yes they need to increase the number of waiter and as you know their is no restaurant in dubai is 100 % perfect. from my experience with this restaurant i can recommend it to anyone
Jamal Hamad Apr 11, 2012 03:56 pm
True, it was disappointing to visit an Arabic restaurant and be offered non Arabic dishes. They should either change the name of this restaurant or its menu as soon as possible before the word spreads.