La Maison du Cafe

This Lebanese restaurant failed to impress

Time Out Says

The prospect of this busy-looking Lebanese café on Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard was a fairly inviting one on a sultry Ramadan evening. Joining a mixture of guests that had primarily joined La Maison du Café-Café Najjar for their iftar buffet on a Saturday night, my friend and I took a seat on the terrace outside to enjoy the dual joys of the apple scent and air conditioning. There was a fair number of guests at the tables around us, including a handful of expats and a number of Arabic families with small children.

Thanks to the latter, I can give you a coveted insider tip – toddlers tucking their hands inside the tinkling water feature behind us, may well fall in and that could end up in tears. Waterworks aside, we diverted our attention back to the food and decided to go for a dinner from the usual à la carte selection. As we flicked through a reasonably lengthy menu, however, I was fairly disappointed to find the Lebanese selection quite minimal, tucked between a number of international fast-food style burgers and sandwiches.

While the serving staff were friendly and obliging, patiently shifting the air conditioning units back and forth for us, we encountered a few glitches in our first attempt to order. Asking the waitress if she could explain a few of the dishes to us, she appeared to be at a loss for words. When we ordered the baba ganoush she told us she would have to check first if it was available, wandered inside and only appeared again some time later to serve another table. Still, ploughing on with our order, thanks to a waiter who spotted our confusion over the AWOL waitress, we decided to stick to the Lebanese choice on offer and ordered the fattoush, akawi cheese saj, fatayer, grilled halloumi and shish taouk platter, all to share.

Everything arrived fairly promptly and around the same time. I was surprised to find the fatayer plate came as a heaped mound of nearly every style of fried Lebanese pastry imaginable, including kebbe. Despite the generous and unexpected quantity, the quality was disappointing; the fatayer themselves looked and tasted much more like a mixed vegetable Indian samosa and nothing stood out as particularly exceptional. The fattoush was fairly classic and I noted the waiter had kindly obliged my friend’s request for extra bread crisps to be served with it.

The saj looked anaemic – like it had lacked a nice crisp-inducing dose of heat and while the doughy texture of the bread was dominant, the presence of the melted cheese filling was modest to put it lightly.

Ironically, the rather European-style of the grilled halloumi was the most enjoyable of these starters, served on toasted bread with a giant and aromatic basil leaf on top. Meanwhile the shish taouk was an ordinarily affair, served in a basket of crunchy but oily-tasting bread with chips.

A final dose of winning charm though was when one waiter decided to bring us the desserts offered to the iftar buffet guests, even though they were not included in our meal. I enjoyed sampling the fruit platter and Arabic-style sweets such as kunafeh and was impressed by this gesture of service skills. Even so, neither notably bad nor good, in a city that groans with the weight of Levant-inspired dining, La Maison du Café-Café Najjar is a pleasant and laidback option, but it is also sadly, just about average.

The bill (for two)
1x akawi cheese saj Dhs24
1x fatayer Dhs29
1x grilled halloumi Dhs34
1x shish taouk platter Dhs65
1x fattoush Dhs45
2x hot beverages Dhs38
Total (excluding service) Dhs235

By Time Out Dubai staff  | 20 Aug 2013

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Payment OptionsCash, Credit Card
Dress CodeCasuals
9:00 AM to 1:00 AM
Sunday: 9:00 AM to 1:00 AMMonday: 9:00 AM to 1:00 AMTuesday: 9:00 AM to 1:00 AMWednesday: 9:00 AM to 1:00 AMThursday: 9:00 AM to 2:00 AMFriday: 10:00 AM to 2:00 AMSaturday: 9:00 AM to 1:00 AM
Show number 04 449 1177
Dubai, Downtown Dubai, Boulevard Plaza, Emaar Tower 2

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