Marina residents may visit global chain - but the rest of us may not Reviews

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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
1x Arayes Dhs40
1x Chicken Dhs42
1x Sirloin steak Dhs95
Total (excluding service) Dhs197

By Oliver Robinson
Time Out Dubai,

Time Out reviews restaurants anonymously and pays for meals. Of course, we cannot guarantee the accuracy or independence of user reviews.


  • Location: Dubai Marina, Dubai
  • Tel: 04 363 9336
  • Travel: Marina Walk

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User reviews

  • Users voted this restaurant most suitable for: Family friendly

User reviews:

Posted by: Sonny on 25 Jul ' 13 at 09:14
  • Would you go back to this restaurant? Yes

Utter nonsense these negative comments(from competition perhaps) or things have improved drastically since the negative reviews. I have been going for the last 6 months and have only positive things to say. Food is good, service is great, Managers could not do enough for me when wanting to watch English Premier League matches or any other sporting event I have asked for. And the Shisha staff are amongst the best I have experienced so far in Dubai. So 2 BIG Thumbs up from me.

Posted by: Adam on 16 Apr ' 13 at 07:10
  • Best for: Family friendly
  • Would you go back to this restaurant? Yes

I want to take the time to thank everyone for their comments and opinions as they are valuable and important. I do agree with a few things that Mr. Oliver said. Today is a year later, and all those comments were taken into consideration and tackled for a much better experience.
There has been drastic improvements with the service and the food today. The menu has changed to add more Arabic dishes, tables changed to the smaller size, but most importantly the quality of the food.
I would suggest to all of you who said "No" and Mr. Oliver to revisit this restaurant again, and I will look forward to your opinions. These changes would have not been done probably without your comments, so I thank you for that!

Posted by: Narayan on 07 Aug ' 12 at 20:02
  • Would you go back to this restaurant? No

What a waste of a good great food concepts with a terrible service to potential guests, being a part of the hospitality business for over 17 years ,I have seen the worst service manager ever, congratulations for showing how not to run a bad restaurant and to teach how a bad manager can hurt great food .

Posted by: Benaifer Hussain on 07 Aug ' 12 at 19:10
  • Would you go back to this restaurant? No

Edited by

One of the worse experience I have ever encountered in Dubai. Rude with not a shred of hospitality, and these were the managers. I was told I will only have 20 minutes to finish my meal , and that I should be thankful that they allow me to dine. After that I wouldn't risk eating there. Never again!!

Posted by: fady on 01 May ' 12 at 00:00
  • Best for: Family friendly
  • Would you go back to this restaurant? Yes

Dear Mr. oliver,

i dont agree what you wrote but its your opinion coz i went and it was perfect, the food was delicious and the price is reasonable , for the table i am with you its to big but also their is small table ,for the service yes they need to increase the number of waiter and as you know their is no restaurant in dubai is 100 % perfect. from my experience with this restaurant i can recommend it to anyone

Posted by: Jamal Hamad on 11 Apr ' 12 at 15:56
  • Would you go back to this restaurant? No

True, it was disappointing to visit an Arabic restaurant and be offered non Arabic dishes. They should either change the name of this restaurant or its menu as soon as possible before the word spreads.

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