Al Meshwar claims to be the first Lebanese restaurant to open in Fujairah. That was back in 1988. Fast forward to 2020 and it has opened its doors to a massive complex on Sheikh Zayed Road beside the Al Manara Center, effectively its second branch. They call the building the Lebanese Citadel. Step inside and you’ll understand why – its interior is a celebration of Lebanon’s pre-Coca-Cola past; a hop back from the 50s, 60s and 70s glory days, stereotypically personified in restaurants such as Filful, Zaroob, Leila and Ayam Elezz to name but a few. The money spent to build this three-story monument is HUGE. I can’t help thinking how much better spent that money would have been if it had been used to rebuild the damage caused by the recent port explosion in Beirut – hmm. Yeah but that’s none of my business.
The food, however, is my business, starting with the lentils soup which was highly recommended. I don’t know why – it wasn’t anything special. What was special was the hummus. So to was the fattoush and also the stuffed vine leaves. You know why? Because none of them were cringe-sour. On the contrary, they were beautifully balanced. For our mains I ordered the lamb chops and my dashing lawyer, Shawn, ordered the shish taouk. I find it infuriating that almost all the Middle Eastern restaurants offer grills yet 90% of them can cook them right, not consistently at least. They’re almost always overcooked. Both our kababs were bone dry – haram. At least the Moroccan tea and bite sized baklava we ended our meal with were good.
I found service friendly but rushed…even through we were one of the only tables occupied that lunch time. I couldn’t help feeling like they were trying to get us on our way as fast as they got us seated. Draped in nostalgia and history this restaurant may be, but for me that did nothing to enhance the dining experience. Mezza aside, I found the food very mediocre. I much prefer Al Safadi a little further down the road…and that’s all I have to say about that.
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Xerxes physically dines at, or orders from, each and every venue he reviews. He pays in full for whatever he and his companions eat, drink, take away or occasionally throw at each other. Xerxes accepts no money, gifts, discounts or free meals in return for reviews or favouritism. What you have read was NOT influenced in any way by the venue. Join me on Instagram @ravenousxerxes or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org.