Monday, November 30, 2015

Olea: a delicious breath of fresh food ... and air

We have been living in Dubai for over a decade now and we have seen restaurants and culinary concepts rise and fall throughout the years. But if there is one thing we have learned, it is that people have got to eat at some point and the classics never fail. 

That is not to say a twist here and there, well designed and beautifully executed is not welcome. Actually, it has become a necessity. Food can get so boring so quickly. Everywhere looking the same. Everywhere tasting the same. It is almost a burden to pick a nice place to go out on the weekend. And with children, forget it! So many factors and prerequisites come to play. It is truly a challenge.

To be honest, when we decided to visit Olea, I was expecting yet another Lebanese restaurant.


But what a wonderful and delicious surprise 
Olea turned out to be.

The restaurant concept is brilliant in its simplicity: 
« Olea presents the most authentic Levantine cuisine and a complete Levant dining experience that will delight all the senses.  
Levantine cuisine is the true traditional cuisine found in the Levant region, known in Arabic as the Bilad ash-Sham or Land of the North, which today spans Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, southern Turkey and Cyprus. »


What is fun is that all of these countries have similar cuisines and sometimes even the same national foods but there are twists as to how they cook each dish.  Olea is presenting some of these signature dishes as prepared by one of these countries.

And so we were handed a menu that looks familiar, but tastefully executed in ways that varied from the usual.


Some tasted like what we knew from home and other Lebanese and Syrian restaurants but others were new and exciting. The Cypriot grilled Halloumi cheese for instance was such a hit the minute it landed on the table that I did not even have time to snap a photo! It is amazing: crunchy and golden on the outside, creamy on the inside; overall, very different from how Lebanese restaurants will present it. The four pieces had already been swallowed when I took out my phone for a quick photo! 

The portions are quite generous and the waiters keep the stream of hot freshly baked bread coming continuously. We gave some appetizers, main dishes and a dessert a try and all were exquisite. The chefs clearly know they stuff and they excel at it. 

Three mouth-watering Hummus.

We started with a selection of Hummus from three different countries, which was a delightful change from the regular Lebanese one we usually order (also available and equally delicious), three kinds of Labne to die for, the tastiest kinoa Tabboule in town, amazing Sojok, superb raw Kebbe and a lentil soup Mia could not stop eating! Needless to say we had a difficult time refraining from licking our fingers in public, as my prolific (and well deserved) use of adjectives will indicate.

Please, please, do click on the photos to enlarge them and get a glimpse of what I am talking about!



After such treats, we could only tackle two main dishes which left us in awe and definitely coming back for more!



And finally, because there is always room for sweets, we shared this fantastic piece of home that sealed the deal:

All wrapped up in a delightful setup. 

The weather was gorgeous and we opted for the charming terrace where the kids enjoyed running around and watching the Metro pass by, which incidentally was not loud at all (we almost missed it most of the times). 

A breath of fresh air at the heart of Dubai!






Mamma Mia's Checklist:
  • Parking / Access: The restaurant is at the Kempinski so the hotel's valet service is available; alternatively, the mall parking is also quite near but it is necessary to enter the restaurant via the Kempinski lifts (2nd floor)
  • Staff: Bilingual (Arabic/English), kind, knowledgeable and very friendly; lovely with the children
  • Service: Prompt and professional
  • Food: Delicious and always at the right temperature; exquisite presentation 
  • Kids Menu/Meal: Not available but the children can easily find something they like in the main menu (meat, chicken, fries, soup, mana'ich which are baked dough with various toppings like thyme, cheese, etc. - a sort of an Arabic pizza)
  • Play area/Playground: Not available but the restaurant is at walking distance from Magic Planet at Mall of the Emirates and the beautiful terrace is also a gorgeous alternative to the usual places kids are confined in
  • Baby Chair: Available
  • Changing Table: Not available; the restaurant patrons have access to the Kempinski restrooms which do not provide baby facilities
  • Outdoors: Agreeable and welcoming; beware of the pool as it is accessible from the restaurant terrace and although it makes for a lovely view, it could be dangerous to allow the little ones to wander nearby (a lifeguard is always on post)
  • Indoors: Elegant and private seating available if needed
  • Drinks: Alcohol and bar available 
  • Family Seal Of Approval: A big fat YES! Grown ups and kids both loved the venue and the food


This review was written for Mums Like Us.  

Mamma Mia+Jad

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