Marina residents may visit global chain - but the rest of us may not 5 Reviews
From its name to its appearance, Arabiska has the making of a Middle Eastern restaurant, yet when I opened the menu I was confused by what exactly this Marina Walk venue is trying to do. While starters are fairly straightforward (think moutabbal and hummus), mains jump from Italian pasta favourites to mixed grills to steak and chips.
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
Time Out Dubai,
Time Out reviews restaurants anonymously and pays for meals. Of course, we cannot guarantee the accuracy or independence of user reviews.