It’s always a good sign when a Lebanese restaurant is packed with locals. Such is the case at Abdel Wahab, the newest culinary hotspot to overlook the splendour of downtown Dubai. Like many other venues surrounding the fountain, the terrace (which has the view and the option to smoke shisha) was packed to the gills on our visit, while the much more sterile indoor space was only spotted with patrons. Unfortunately, I hadn’t made a reservation, so my date and I were relegated indoors.

The menu gave me mixed feelings. Sure, there were all the usual classics, and a few of my favourite, oft-overlooked mezze (dandelion greens, for instance), but there were several absent staples I was longing for. Tangy muhammara – a dip made from ground walnuts and dried peppers – was nowhere in sight.

We made do and ordered a round of my favourites, which came served with lovely fresh-baked pitta. I couldn’t find fault with anything we sampled. The aforementioned dandelion greens were vibrant, and came topped with a traditional sprinkling of crispy onions. Samkeh harra – a spicy fish dish served cold in a creamy tahini – was a delicate, intensely tangy version given added depth with a coating of roasted peanuts. The Lebanese sausage makanek came with the thinnest trace of pomegranate syrup, and while the meat was pleasant, it was a little underwhelming.

The least interesting of these openers was the fried kebbeh. Normally I adore these bulger dumplings, which ideally come stuffed with a well-spiced mixture of ground meat, onions and pine nuts. These versions were not bad, just a tad on the bland side.

We’d already ordered an awful lot of food for two people, so I decided to choose a single kebab for my date and I to split: the kafta ourfaliyyeh. This was a juicy, tender tube of ground lamb’s meat served alongside cooked peppers and tomatoes. Like most of what preceded it, this was a nice dish that caused no complaint. Yet it seemed there was something missing from our meal. It’s difficult to complain about enjoyable food; the only problem was that it didn’t quite transcend. It was all good, but none of it was exceptional or otherworldly.

The service was also a little mixed. While our waiter was incredibly sweet and chatty, asking us if we’d visited Beirut and engaging us in cheery conversation at every turn, he was at times forgetful. We never did get the dessert we asked for, which was just as well, given that we were full.

That said, Abdel Wahab still has much to offer. The food is decent, the view exceptional and the prices reasonable. This is a hard mix to find, and for that we commend it. We may even make a stopover the next time we’re in the area and have a hankering for a kebab.

The bill (for two)
1x Large bottle of water Dhs14
1x Chicory salad Dhs21
1x Samkeh harra Dhs67
1x Makanek Dhs28
1x Kebbeh Dhs24
1x Kafta ourfaliyyeh Dhs47
Total (service excluded) Dhs201