Food review: Get set at JBR's Phoenicia for Dh299 per duo
Three courses and drinks pairing for Dh150 a head
Traditionally words such as 'cost-effective' have not been the first to spring to mind when thinking of JBR eateries. 'Glamorous,' sure, 'world-class', of course, but 'easy on the wallet' is a phrase rarely uttered. Until now. For what Lebanese superstar chef Greg Malouf is offering at the JA Oasis Beach Tower restaurant Phoenicia is a taste of the high-life at a price destined to put a smile on anyone's face.
Labeled the 'Toast and Taste' menu, his three-course set pairing meal is an exploration of modern mixology and mezze. The cocktails and cuisine both aim to showcase the flavours of Arabia; from zaatar to rose to pomegranate and sumac. Spoiler alert: they succeed. And for just under Dh150 a head per duo for two starters, two main courses and a sharing dessert, with two beverages per course, we think it represents stunning value.
So what do you receive? Kick off with Malouf's signature silky hummus paired with a crisp and fruity hibiscus spritz; containing a Mexican spirit, hibiscus tea, ginger and Arabian honey. The combination is an exquisite introduction to what is ultimately an elegant yet causal dining experience. We wouldn't call the food courses vastly experimental, yet they are expertly constructed with fresh ingredients to maximise flavour and blend well with the more extravagant drinks. The refreshingly floral 'Oh My L!' is a blend of lemon oleo, orange blossom, lychee and bubbles and is the perfect complement to local Yellow Tail carpaccio: slices of Hamachi marinated in a mix of Syrian spices with eggplant and pine nuts. Main courses of organic seabass Sayadeeya and Malouf's battenjan, an eggplant parcel, are paired with a glass of acclaimed Lebanese red and white, while the chef's signature dessert, the flower petal Pavlova is matched with Tin Tin, a digestif of Arabian citrus and fig.
All dishes promptly arrive with a flourish and detailed explanation of what you're about to eat from the knowledgeable and friendly staff. We expected nothing less from this hidden gem of an establishment. Despite being tucked away, even mid-week Phoenicia remains busy, burbling over with a laid-back ambience provided by groups tempted in by this deal, so book ahead.