Time Out visits the Jumeirah Beach Hotel and tries a second helping at the Arabic restaurant 3 Reviews
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As we stepped into Al Khayal, following the waiter to our table through the circular archways and around the pillars covered in lairy gold mosaic tiles, we thought we spotted – or rather heard – a little known English celebrity.
If anyone has seen Alan Patridge – and no, it wasn’t him – then they may remember the in-house musician that used to play a role in the character’s mock chat show from his early years, Glenn Ponder. Then man had ‘fingers like a centipede’ as Alan once described, moving with lightning speed up and down his Casio keyboard. The chat show never got a second series, but we think Glenn may be working in the Jumeirah Beach Hotel.
As we took our seats, the keyboard was flicked to the ‘wave’ sound effect (or is it ‘ghost’? That always confuses us), and we perused the menu. One of the problems with Lebanese restaurants is that there’s often so much to choose from, and such an array of key dishes that ought to be a part of every such meal, so where on earth do you begin? Luckily Al Khayal has a solution for this with a range of reasonably priced set menus that cover all of the basics, giving you a choice hot and cold mezze, mains and dessert. And the good news is, it’s all pretty good.
As the haunting sound of the Casio player was cranked up a notch and joined by a belly dancer, we munched on some excellent fattoush and tabbouleh, then sambusak or fatayer, scooping up dollops of creamy hummus with floppy Arabic bread. The grilled halloumi cheese, lightly browned, crunchy balls of falafel and potato harra were also worthy mentions, and the mixed grill with its tender combination of lamb, beef, kibba and chicken really hit the spot.
Portions are extremely generous, however, so we found the need to pace ourselves, but were aided somewhat by the service being a little distracted at times (surely they weren’t all backstage waiting for autographs?).
The climax of the meal was signaled by Arabic sweets, dates, and the biggest fruit bowl we had ever seen. As the keyboardist was joined by – we think – an Arabic karaoke singer, we decided to finish up and take our leave. Our requests to the keyboard player for an impromptu rendition of ‘Homeward Bound’ were sadly denied.
The bill (for two)
1x Fattoush Dhs35
1x Tabbouleh Dhs35
1x humous Dhs35
1x halloumi cheese Dhs40
1x falafel Dhs35
1x mixed grilled Dhs125
1x Arabic sweets Dhs50
1x fruit bowl Dhs75
1x water Dhs18
2x fresh fruit cocktails Dhs76
Total (not including service) Dhs524
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