Between touch-screen phones and iPad menus, it seems the future (as predicted by TV shows of our childhood) has finally arrived. Never more so than at Ebony, a new restaurant in Business Bay, where the concept revolves around interactive and inordinately high-tech dining tables.
Thanks to sensors hanging above your head, hovering your finger over the table will allow you to read the menu, make your order, and even see your food being prepared via a live video link to the kitchen. If that isn’t enough to keep you busy, you can also read the papers, check the weather, log onto social media, send e-cards between tables, call the servers over or even dial up a taxi.
The restaurant itself is an attractively simple and modern space, with minimal adornment, decorated in a bright and engaging mix of lime green, white and black. Staff are quick to guide you through this high-tech concept, offering help in what features can be utilised and how to go about using them.
The sheer novelty of all this absolutely adds excitement and intrigue to the experience of dining at Ebony. Even so, for first-time diners, the interactive tables are not very easy to use and the act of simply ordering an item, or skipping to a different section of the menu can be fiddly, even frustrating albeit, quite fun.
In addition to a few pasta dishes and Arabic-style kebabs and mixed grills, the menu is primarily characterised by an interesting selection of Sudanese dishes. Tameyya, an African equivalent to falafel, has the same delicious duality of texture, but with an earthy, slightly spicy quality, served with a soft fresh cheese, as a well-suited accompaniment. The samosas are well prepared and enjoyable, with a warmly seasoned minced meat recipe, and a fresh and herby cheese recipe both offered on the same plate. The Ebony salata was a simple, finely chopped and tomato-heavy salad, but given a richly flavoured and moreish edge from the peanut butter dressing.
Main courses include a simple dish of chickpeas with spinach and plain white rice, or traditional Sudanese stew bamya mafruka, made with chunks of lamb and okra, served with a doughy, pancake-like bread called gorassa. While the bamya mafruka had a gloopy consistency (unexpected for those trying this for the first time) and a gritty texture, both of these main courses had hearty, wholesome and satisfying qualities, like home-cooked food.
Reassuringly, despite Ebony’s niche concept, care has also gone into the service and food, rather than feeling like it has been whacked on as an afterthought. As such, the overall experience here is pleasant and good value. Ironically, it is getting used to and navigating the functionality of these screens that poses the only issue for diners here.
The bill (for two) 1x tameyya Dhs20 1x samosa Dhs25 1x Ebony salata Dhs25 1x bamya mafruka Dhs45 1x chickpeas with spinach Dhs40 1x cream custard dessert Dhs25 1x date porridge Dhs20 1x large water Dhs10 2x lemon mint Dhs50 Total (excluding service) Dhs221