Avli by tashas

Modern Greek-Med eats in DIFC
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Time Out Says

If the past12 months in Dubai were to be defined by a cuisine, it could hardly be anything but Greek. In a year, the number of restaurants in the city touting their Hellenic credentials has doubled. DIFC alone has gone from having nought to two eateries repping the home of saganaki.

Avli, both the newer and the lesser known of the pair, opened back in February in the space that once briefly housed La Luz.

And let it be known, the restaurant is a work of art, seemingly inspired by the shapes and textures of Classical architecture, and colours of Pentelic marble. The bar area at the entrance has an almost cave-like feel, while the main dining area, down a set of steps, is almost amphitheatrical.

Staff introduce the menu as “Greek-inspired” Mediterreanean food, which seems mainly designed to wrongfoot purists and stem the rant once their eyes stop to rest somewhere near the aubergine mille-feuille. A better description would be; modern Greek, hold the moussaka.

But descriptors aren’t the issue we have with the food here.

In Italy, they say that your pasta water should be as salty as the Mediterranean. At Avli, the chefs appropriate that notion to seemingly every dish.

Now, we like our salt as much as the next bypass patient, but there is a fine white line, and each mouthful sails past it.

At least the tzatziki is creamy enough to temper the sodium, also lending a palate-cleaning crunch of cucumber.

Lamb keftedes, served in a slick of burnt tomato butter, are as generous in size as in seasoning, but poorly cooked – just a shade shy of burnt on the outside, and much too rare in the middle. Fried calamari too is similarly bitter, and entirely too salty.

Every modern Greek restaurant in Dubai has a riff on spanakopita, and Avli conforms to type. Its own deconstruction of the beloved spinach pie sees mounds of wilted greens topped with elegant shards of filo pastry. It’s beautiful, and yet again inedibly seasoned.

And the meal continues to deteriorate in the same theme. With hindsight, we wouldn’t have ordered seafood mains, let alone samphire as a side.

After settling a bill north of Dhs700, it’s not just the food that leaves a bitter taste.

Greek-inspired or otherwise, Avli has a long way to go before it can give any of its DIFC rivals a run for their money.

Modern Greek-Med eats in DIFC

For quirky mixed drinks at the bar

By Time Out Dubai staff  | 22 Sep 2019

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