Greg Malouf, the award winning Australian Lebanese Chef well known for bringing a modern twist to traditional Middle Eastern cuisine is back in Dubai as consulting chef at two new restaurants. Phoenicia, a nod to the ancient civilisations originally from Lebanon, are two new restaurants across two Dubai properties, JA Beach Hotel in Jebel Ali and JA Ocean Beach Tower in JBR.
On a recent trip to the ever bustling The Walk on JBR we visited Phoenicia at JA Ocean Beach Tower. Recently opened, the décor inside is very simple, clean and light. The menu offers classic Middle Eastern dishes with a twist. To start with we shared a portion of hazelnut falafel and baby squid. Both dishes were generous, offering plenty to share. The baby squid was served as bite sized chunks, accompanied with a very tasty garlic mayonnaise. As tasty as the squid was, the surprise dish was the hazelnut falafel, crispy to bite into, soft on the inside with the nutty flavour adding something totally unexpected, and paired beautifully with crumbled feta.
For mains we opted for the lamb ouzi and a staple on any reputable Middle Eastern restaurants menu, the mixed grill. The lamb ouzi, slow cooked for 8 hours did not disappoint and the meat, which fell apart with a gentle touch, was perfectly seasoned and very moist. The mixed grill offered juicy chunks of chicken tawook, spicy lamb kebab and some succulent grilled beef fillet cubes, a dish so generous it would be perfect for two to share. The accompanying mushroom freekah was so tasty we could have been just as happy eating this by itself.
For dessert we opted for kunafa and warm chocolate and date cake, but were also “persuaded” to try the baklava ice cream sandwich. The kunafa took around 15 minutes to come, as it was made fresh to order. Beautifully presented in its own metal pan, it was certainly well worth the wait. The chocolate and date cake was just the right level of sweetness and served with a scoop of labneh and a banana caramel sauce. We could see why we were 'persuaded" to try the baklava ice cream sandwich, a refreshing dish to end the meal with a sweet ice cream filling served with a poached pear.
With so many Middle Eastern restaurants to visit in Dubai, Phoenicia certainly stands out as one of the top to try. Expect to pay around Dhs 200 per person not including drinks.