Aghatti is the nearest thing to an Iraqi fine dining restaurant. Located in La Mer North, it’s interior is beautifully decorated, and far more upmarket to Samad and Kabab Erbil Iraqi in Jumeirah 2. I love the live olive tree in the middle of the restaurant, a trend which seems to be picking up.
Also noteworthy is the glass-enclosed ‘fire alter room’ at the entrance of the restaurant where the Semeç Masgûf (Arabic: سمچ مسگوف) is cooked. This is the first time I have seen a mechanism which slowly rotates the fish around the fire, like a horizontal rotisserie. How ingenious.
I was disappointed to find that a mixed mezze platter was not offered. So, for our table of two to have sampled an assortment of their mezze we would have ordered five or six individual dishes, something which would almost cost us the price of a full fish. That’s kinda dumb. As a result, we limited our mezze order to a Hummus and a Fattoush, both of which arrived beautifully presented and were delicious.
Our first fish was a 2.5-kilo whopper, far too big for two, or even three. Beyond its size there was something fundamentally wrong with this fish, its flesh was crumbly rather than flaky. I appreciated the young Egyptian assistant manager’s professionalism in addressing the situation, he immediately removed the fish and asked for a few minutes to rectify the situation.
In the meantime, his staff swarmed over our table, cleaning it spotless in preparation for the new fish. We were served a fresh bottle of water, and bread hot out of the oven.
Very interestingly, we were served half a fish this time, which was still too big (if it was just the two of us) but much easier to manage. The chef himself, another young Egyptian, came to our table to make sure everything was to our liking. This new fish was absolutely perfect. Thankfully a friend had by now joined us, and he helped us polish off every last bit.
We ended our meal with one of the best Kunefe’s I have had (better than anything I had in Iraq) and some dark Iraqi tea – bah bah. Be careful, the handle of the dish the Kunefe is served in is HOT (I learnt that the hard way).
I was very impressed with the level of service, from the warm greeting we got from the pretty girl at the reception to the general way our table was attended to by a host of friendly Filipina. Tin, the young girl originally responsible for our table, actually brought over and introduced her replacement to us. I thought that was a lovely touch. Normally I would be (pardon the French) pissed off with the first fish fiasco. But the assistant manager handled it so well, I have nothing but praise. Okay, I was a little pissed off. But all that said, Aghatti is a welcome addition to La Mer and the Iraqi culinary scene in Dubai. Note though that Masgûf is just one of a number of amazing dishes which make up the timeless cuisine of Iraq, and Aghatti is an excellent venue to enjoy many of them at.
Waste NOT. Want NOT.