Restaurant awards mena

Turkish 04 399 9123 Dubai Marina

Winner of Time Out Dubai’s Best Fine Dining Newcomer award in 2017, the fact this superb Anatolian eatery claimed Best MENA in 2018 is testament to its consistency in all areas.

In cooler months the doors are flung open to make the terrace and main dining area one, but in summer the cosy vibe and warm décor make the inside dining room a treat to visit, too.

The atmosphere is relaxed, convivial and romantic. Service is slick, as are the innovative dishes fired out of chef Colin Clague’s kitchen, which take diners on a journey through Turkey, from northern Marmara to the Aegean coast.

Lamb cutlets with creamy, smoky aubergine, grilled octopus with black-eyed beans, meatballs with baby artichoke – each dish is beautifully presented, deeply fragrant and rich in classic regional flavours. The pide is stunning, too.

A touch of Turkish sage here, a sprinkling of zaatar there, sumac, saffron… This feels like a real, modern journey through the celebrated cuisine of an ancient nation.

And if you get lost on your travels, the staff are never far from hand to make recommendations. Trust them – they know what they’re talking about. And trust us when we tell you this is one of the best restaurants in town.

The bottom line
Inventive dishes in a slick setting.

International +971 4 2057333 Baniyas

Persian pleasures await as you step through the grand archway of a restaurant full of elegance and rich tradition. Housed in one of the city’s grandest hotels, a dinner date at Shabestan feels like receiving a royal appointment. The vast dining room, decorated with beautiful Persian rugs, has a bright feel, with its large windows treating diners to splendid views of Dubai Creek. Smartly-dressed staff are charming and courteous and provide helpful advice on the wealth of Iranian favourites. The palate-pleasing resteh soup, filled with fresh vegetables and mopped up with warm and crunchy bread gives a terrific taste of things to come. A wide selection of seafood dishes and kebabs are on offer on the extensive menu, but heed the advice of our waiter and go for the signature gormeh sabzi, a fragrant stew filled with with tender chunks of lamb. It was once dined on by kings and is fitting for such a regal venue.

Discounts available with VISA – click here for details.

There’s so much to like about Leila. The traditional Lebanese eatery immediately catches the eye with its ample outdoor terrace, shadowed by palm trees leading to a homely indoor dining area with a light and bright décor and an open kitchen set-up where you can watch the chefs at work.Middle Eastern music plays in the background, and old black and white films are shown on small screens as keen and friendly staff talk you through the menu. The menu is extensive with a variety of hot and cold mezzes and grills. Try starting with a fattet hummus, a hearty pine-nut packed dish lathered in a creamy yoghurt that proves a refreshing take on the staple. Manti won’t be for everyone, the dumplings are soaked in an acidic tomato sauce that overpowers the dish. The Lebanese pizza also sadly lacks crunch, with soft cheese and huge slices of tomato lying on top of the bread making for a soggy texture. Leila has much to recommend it, but with so many Lebanese outlets vying for your attention it could do with being more consistent.

Middle Eastern +971 4 324 7887 Jumeirah 1

Any preconceptions about an Iraqi dining experience are left at the door of this striking restaurant. The setting is lavish, attentive waiters, smartly dressed in suits, catch the eye, as does the regal décor of the vast dining area, with the dark wooden tables giving an air of sophistication to proceedings. Start with meat borak – minced meat encased in a pastry roll – then try the fish metabek, cooked in a thick, pomegranate syrup and served with an ample portion of rice and pine nuts. With so many Iraqi dishes to try, one visit can only give you a flavour of the cuisine, but it will tempt you back for more.

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