Before visiting the newest of JBR’s seemingly limitless restaurants, I Googled it. Turns out Condé Nast Traveller readers had voted the Istanbul branch of Turkish chain Kosebasi as one of the world’s top 50 restaurants. I don’t think the JBR outlet would garner such acclaim.

Don’t get me wrong: there were good points. The decor was eclectic, with Mediterranean-style tiles adorning the table tops and curved ceiling hangings sheltering us from above.

The first thing that rankled was the presentation of a bottle of Evian when we ordered water. It is far pricier than its local equivalent (which was also available). It was just the sort of cheeky up-selling that puts me in a negative frame of mind. Deciding to let it slide, we turned to our menus and stared at them in puzzlement for a few minutes. I think we were thrown by the number of unfamiliar words describing similar dishes to those you’d find in a Lebanese restaurant, until a waitress, spotting our furrowed brows, appeared bearing the most enormous tray I’ve ever seen.

On it were an assortment of cold starters which, coupled with the waitress’s encyclopaedic knowledge, made our choice much easier. We selected four dishes from the tray as well as a gavurdagi – chopped tomatoes and onions. The rest of the dishes, which came with unlimited hot, tasty bread, were mixed. The soslu patlican – aubergine with tomato puree – was nice in small quantities but a little heavy, while the patlican salatas drifted through my mouth like an aubergine cloud. The humous was unremarkable, while the semizou, a yoghurty mix containing purslane (a leafy edible weed), was light and intricately flavoured.

I was a little intimidated when a heaving platter of meat – the mixed grill – was thrust before us, sauceless and vast. However it would seem I was alone in this sentiment as one of my (male) chums looked at the plate somewhat worriedly and said, ‘I’m pretty sure we’re not going to have enough there.’ Turns out, we did. Some parts were great – the barbecued chicken was smoky and succulent, and the lamb was tender and complemented by punchy rings of fried onion. The tarsusi kebab, however, which was the restaurant’s speciality, was underwhelming. OK, so it was made of minced meat, but it was just too soft for comfort – there was a disconcerting squishiness to it which just didn’t sit right with our meat-loving table.

It was a pleasant enough meal, but certainly not one that would warrant ‘top 50’ status.

The bill (for four)

1x Local water Dhs12
1x Fresh mint and lemon Dhs19
1x Gavurdagi Dhs16
1x Humous Dhs14
1x Soslu patlican Dhs14
1x Patlican salatas Dhs16
1x Semizou Dhs19
1x Mixed grill Dhs180
Total (including service) Dhs290