Mezza House is the latest restaurant to open among the sacks of cement and piles of breezeblocks that huddle at the base of the soaring Burj Dubai. Tucked away in a brand new building comprised of swanky apartments and designer shops, it’s a tribute to the traditional cuisine of the Levant region, showcasing the age-old delights and delicacies of Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and Palestine. In keeping with the up-to-the-minute development of the ‘Old Town’, its interior is teeming with classic Arabesque touches from across the region, such as radiant lanterns, plush cushions, and – rather more inventively – a buried treasure of ornate necklaces underneath a sweeping glass floor. But it glows in contemporary illuminations of soft turquoise that, according to the restaurant’s website, represents the spirit of Andalusia. With a menu displaying just as many influences it was difficult to know where to start, but the clue lay in the restaurant’s name.
Our table began to fill up with mezze. The tabbouleh (from Lebanon), although heavy with parsley and a little too coarsely chopped, was fresh and full of zest, while the muhammarah (a spicy Syrian dip of blitzed peppers and walnuts) was a thick paste brimming with matured flavours. The raw lamb, also known as kibbe nayeh, was a smooth spread of uncooked meat, ground with spices and bulgur wheat that perfectly accompanied the salad. Everything went well with Granny’s potato chips, which were thinly sliced, delicately spiced and quickly scoffed.
More dishes soon arrived. A clay pot of mfaraket btata featured crisply sautéed potatoes with fluffy scrambled egg and chopped parsley, while the fatat makdous (another dish with Syrian origins) combined white rice and aubergine softened in olive oil and slathered in lashings of creamy yoghurt.
My dining partner and I were filling up nicely, so we opted to share one main course between us – and it was just as well. The huge mosakhan roll (Palestinian style) featured half a chicken perched on a broad base of pitta bread topped with sautéed onions and pine nuts, sprinkled with sumac and drizzled in olive oil. The succulent and boldly flavoured meat fell from the bones, and the crisp, herby skin dissolved in the mouth with torn shreds of pitta. And then we were heartily stuffed, highlighting the only problem with Levant cuisine – too many dishes, not enough room.
We conceded defeat and asked for everything we couldn’t finish to be packed up in doggy bags. As our friendly waiter removed the last few dishes, we felt less guilty about failing to leave space for desserts. Like us, you might only scrape the surface of the extensive Middle Eastern menu at this charming restaurant, dish by savoury dish, but this is Mezza House – not Baklava House – so why not go with the flow?
The bill (for two)
Aqua Panna water Dhs15
Raw kebbeh Dhs15
Granny’s potato chips Dhs16
Mfaraket btata Dhs18
Mosakhan roll Dhs40
Total (including service) Dhs179