The Marina View Hotel has always been something of an anomaly in terms of the restaurants it’s housed. First, it boasted a non-descript Italian that closed before we even had a chance to review it (though the poster-size images of the Coliseum, Leaning Tower of Pisa and Venice still remain). Now, in its place, there’s an equally non-descript Lebanese restaurant by the name of Cedar Tree, an ‘authentic Lebanese restaurant’ that serves, well, authentic Lebanese cuisine (ignoring the smattering of hotdogs and other seemingly un-Lebanese dishes). We spotted it was busy one evening, so resolved to review it as fast as we could.

We returned at lunchtime, so getting a table was easy and service was swift – two factors that instantly put me in good spirits – but my mood darkened at the arrival of flat bread in sealed plastic bags. I appreciate this is standard at many Lebanese restaurants, but there’s something sterile and unappetising about having to get to your bread via a plastic seal. What’s more, there was no harissa or any kind of dip to complement the bread. The warak enab (tomato wrapped in vine leaf) offered respite to the dry, wholly unappetising bread, providing a fresh (if not a tad slimy) contrast in texture and flavour. Before I knew it, my mains, the sayadieh bi samak, arrived at the table with a colourful accompaniment of fresh salad and a glass of fresh orange juice. The sight of three plump dumplings arranged neatly on a serene pool of what looked to be gravy, alongside a neat pile of rice with sesame seeds and crispy caramelised onions, was enough to make me lose interest in my vine-leaf parcels altogether. Cutting into the first dumpling I discovered white fish and (yet more) rice and pine nuts. My first forkful was abundant in flavour, though I was disappointed by the lukewarm temperature. The same can be said of the rice and pine nut side – the rice itself was bursting with an almost soy-like baharat and cumin flavour, and the pine nuts and caramelised onions offered a wonderful contrast in texture, though I couldn’t shake the feeling it had been pre-prepared and left sitting too long.

Since dessert options were limited, I called for the bill and eased back in my chair to take in Cedar Tree. Ultimately, it’s an unremarkable restaurant, but for passersby it holds potential for a quick-fix lunch or dinner… providing they heat the food up properly.

The bill (for one)
1x Warak enab
1x Fresh orange Dhs22
1x Sayadieh bi samak Dhs35
Total (excluding service) Dhs80