UAE

Re-imagining the Middle Eastern Fine Dining Experience with Qbara

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“Food is one part of the experience and it has to be somewhere between 50 to 60 percent of the dining experience. But the rest counts as well: The mood, the atmosphere, the music, the feeling, the design, the harmony between what you have on the plate and what surrounds the plate” – Alain Ducasse

Chef Alain hits the nail on the head with those words. When it comes to fine dining, the restaurant that intelligently fits into the description above is Qbara. The reason why I use the word ‘intelligent’ is because form and function both come together at this award winning restaurant. The brainchild of Noriyoshi Muramatsu, a Tokyo based interior designer from Studio Glitt continues to impress diners with pieces of culture, art and history from around the world.

The Moroccan flying carpets, clay plates moulded and designed by potters in Afghanistan, individually hand carved wooden panels from Egypt and mouth blown lamps of the majestic central chandelier are some of the elements that converge with your dining experience. In addition to this, the walls come to life thanks to the high definition LCD projection system that projects crisp visuals, which in a way, seems hypnotic as well – in a good way, of course. The restaurant runs an extra mile by sneaking in a little stand that slides out from beneath your seat, where you can place your handbag on. How thoughtful and clever is that?

I was recently invited to Qbara’s Iftar menu tasting which embraced dishes from the Gulf region, infused with Levantine recipes. The efforts of the ‘food lab’, where flavours and recipes development took place, really did pay off. This fine dining experience can be enjoyed at AED 245 per person or AED 190 per person for group bookings with at least twenty diners.

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A vibrant spread of dates, Arabic bread, baba ganoush, butter beans with feta, wild zaatar dip and zaatar crush unwraps the Iftar menu. One of my favourite appetisers was the Antep Ezme which is a slightly spicy tomato based dish that originates from Antep (Gaziantep), south-east Turkey. The selection of appetisers is a great conversation starter too (and I speak with experience).

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Moving on to soups, the Qbara specialty Harira soup (which combines the goodness of Algerian and Moroccan lentil, chickpea and beef) is one that is not to be missed. If you’re looking for a different savour terrain, you could also choose the nostalgic lentil soup (I say this, because I was reminded of my grandmother’s cooking) or the Iranian chicken and vermicelli soup. The baked disc shaped chips that came along with the soups were simply exquisite – what a refreshing combination!

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If there was a way to re-imagine serving falafels, then Qbara’s falafel salad would be it – gracefully plated atop a granite slab. We have some serious food stylists in the food lab. The grilled chicken skewers glazed with Yemeni honey welcomed us next and what followed afterwards caused us to fall silent – the soft shelled crab saj with Qbara’s signature chilli paste. This is a culinary treat.

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The highlight of the iftar menu is the slow cooked lamb shoulder which is marinated for twenty four hours before being slowly cooked in a smoker in its own juices along with the marinade for a duration of another twenty four hours. Serving these dishes in rustic plates creates a visual impact, which is an added experience. The other option from the mains section was the tender grilled Chilean sea bass and the Tunisian style grilled vegetable mechouia served alongside the oriental rice, which were equally delectable.

What’s a meal without dessert?

My personal favourite was the chocolate katayef, which was a spin on the traditional recipe using chocolate, cinnamon and candied oranges. The classic umali witnessed a twist as well with rose water custard. Lastly, the traditional Egyptian milk custard or mahalabiya was served with a twist as well – as a brûlée using locally sourced pasteurized camel milk served with pistachio praline and raspberry jelly. The amalgamation of textures and flavours was simply splendid.

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To learn more about Qbara’s Iftar menu, click here.

With the last week of Ramadan unfolding, don’t miss out on this fine dining experience when you’re planning your next Iftar with family and friends.

First impressions:
Ambiance and decor: Excellent
Service: Excellent
Wait time: Excellent
Menu presentation and design: Excellent
Food: Excellent
Value for money: Excellent
Overall dining experience: Excellent

Comestible regards,
Judy

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