Sunday, October 2, 2016

Villa Beirut {Lunch Lebanese Homestyle}

While Lebanese food in Abu Dhabi is a dime a dozen, there is always a welcoming audience for another, myself included.  Villa Beirut is the newcomer, but it is in a bit of an odd location, (although what is not in an odd location here in Abu Dhabi?)  It is in the depths of Marina Mall, the long standing mall at the end of the Corniche, near the Palace.  The restaurant is tucked in just at the edge of the much less traveled high-end designer section....bet you didn't even know there was a Gucci in Marina Mall!
While we have been frequenting Marina Mall lately for the new Five Guys (burgers and milkshakes), but this trip was a forced intervention, specifically to try the newly opened Lebanese restaurant.    The decor at Villa Beirut is cozy and cute, and actually really feels like you are in someone's home in the countryside of Lebanon...down to the old-fashioned flowered china.  The menu covers all of the Lebanese staples and then has a some interesting specialties scattered throughout.  We started the meal with a selection of the hot and cold mezze...hummus, beetroot hummus, tabbouleh, moudardra (lentils and rice with fried onion), Burghul Bil Banadora (bulgar wheat cooked in a very flavorful thick tomato base, and topped with fresh zaatar), etc..  Those last two were my favorite, and I could easily take a whole meal just on those.  Also,the amazingly fresh pita bread (that stays soft and fluffy even after it cools down from the oven) dipped in the thick, creamy hummus, left us starting the meal on a very high note.  Although the olive oil drizzled atop the hummus was not super flavorful.
  After trying not to fill up entirely on the mezze, we moved on to the mixed grill.  Kafta, Shish Tawook...beef, chicken...all seared nicely to bring out the simple flavorful tender meats. And surprisingly, the french fries (which are usually a soggy afterthought) were perfectly light, crispy, hot and salty.  I love it when a restaurant perfects something as commonly overlooked as the poor french fry.  (By the way, those perfect fries are also delicious dipped through the hummus.)
  The meal won't leave you feeling stuffed or like you ate a bowling ball, and the food feels healthy.  It is very flavorful and satisfying, like good Lebanese food should be, while still being down to earth and simply presented.  You are eating at a friend's house...a friend who is a great cook.
We couldn't leave without a quick small taste of dessert.  The traditional Kunafa was really nicely done.  I actually almost did not want to order it, since the last one I had eaten (at a different place) was disgustingly sweet.  Villa Beirut, however, makes one that is crispy, buttery, and a balanced mix of richness with just a dab of sweetness.  We also tried one of the specialties, Chocolate Coconut Bites, which are a real extension from most Lebanese desserts.  They are a dense dark chocolate truffle packed with tiny bits of unsweetened coconut.  A decadent way to end the meal, if that's what you are looking for.
  Villa Beirut also has a big breakfast crowd, especially during the weekdays as the mall shop workers slip away to grab a hot bite before the shoppers and tourists pour in.   I love Lebanese breakfast...the hot buttery breads, fried eggs, melty cheese...so if the breakfast is anywhere as good as the rest of the menu, I plan to pop back in for breakfast very soon.



   


   
Villa Beirut Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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