Upon entry to this contemporary cafe, guests can expect all-day dining in a casual and vibrant restaurant environment. Many traditional favorites are available, and diners will be impressed with the range of dishes available. For those interested in shisha, there is a separate section to enjoy, or drop in for a leisurely cup of coffee.
Given how unexpectedly popular the location is (especially in the smoker’s section/shisha area), it might be a good idea to call ahead to avoid any disappointment. Reservations can be made on 04 320 0043.
We spy a valet (which costs AED15), but only after we opt for a street parking spot (with local fees incurred). Guests might need to be prepared to walk, depending on the time of day.
Greeting and Seating
We arrive at the hostess stand and are warmly greeted. For an early lunch, we have our choice of indoor seating and select a table near the terrace, which maximizes outdoor light.
While there might be a slight language barrier, we’re still well looked after, and our server’s approach is friendly and engaging. There are some communication errors (we are initially told our shawarma will take 40 minutes to prepare, and then are pleasantly surprised when it arrives in less than half the time), but nothing that significantly impacts our meal or overall experience.
My dining partner is vegetarian, so we order accordingly. The meal kicks off to a great start when a beautiful ‘amuse bouche’ of sorts turns up. The display of labneh, olives, and crispy sumac crackers showcase generosity and a kitchen that understands the art of plating. While there are a number of delicious juices to choose from, when we’re informed our preferred choice of watermelon juice isn’t available, we decide to go with sparkling water instead. For those interested, there is also a range of mixed mocktails. As we’re trying to cut back on sugar, sparkling water is completely fine. From the cold mezze menu, we order two kinds of hummus, the traditional, AED22 and the za’atar, AED25, which is by far our favorite. The subtle spice is perfectly blended, and we’d happily order again. The hummus (naturally) arrives with fresh Arabic bread, which is expected, but always appreciated. We also receive a beautifully fresh fattoush, AED28, which has its own unique presentation. No, I won’t spoil the surprise here. The Al Beiruti fries, AED34, arrive next. Covered in laban, spices, and topped with cilantro and pomegranate, this is an easy (if a tiny bit messy) dish to share. I’m still a bit hungry, so I order the chicken shawarma platter, AED40, which is among the best I’ve tasted. Wrapped in ubiquitous brown paper, the first half disappears quickly, and then the second. Served up with fries, pickles, and garlic cream, this is enough to keep anyone going. Although we’re asked if we’re interested in dessert (honestly, the pain perdu catches our eye), we’re actually full (probably too much bread).
While today we have a limited approach to the menu, there are definitely other items we would like to come back and try, especially for breakfast.
Everything arrives fresh and hot out of the oven, which is exactly what we expect from this establishment. This is a restaurant where you can be in and out on your lunch break (although we see many diners enjoying a leisurely meal).
While nothing is being reinvented at Al Beiruti, the contemporary fit-out of the venue fits the vibe of the cuisine. The beautiful tiling, open kitchen, and exposed ductwork lend to a casual vibe. There’s even a selection of bespoke groceries and kitchenware to peruse, should you want to take something home.
We see no issue with the current prices.
Overall, would you return?
Although we’re not regularly craving Levantine food, we appreciate this cusuine when it’s authentic and available throughout the day. If stepping out for your next mezze fix, Al Beiruti should be near the top of your list.
Order a shawarma plate, plan for a shisha, and call it a day.
Disclaimer: MenuPages.ae was a guest of this establishment.