Located right across the road from Mercato Mall on Beach Road (Jumeirah, Dubai), Ard Zaytoon has been a favorite with the local community for years. Originally a Lebanese restaurant, the establishment has had a change of chef and cuisine and the menu offerings are now of Turkish origin.
The interiors are bright and inviting with perky yellow-green upholstery and smiling staff. Sleek, minimalist and modern, the space has no hint of exotic Turkey… that is, until you meet the curly moustached chef clothed in traditional ‘shalvar’ and head gear.
We started off with chilled glasses of Lemon Mint, and were served a delectable spread of cold mezze. I especially loved the smoked aubergine here; delightfully fresh and smokey, and perfect with a dollop of hummus on the freshly baked pita bread.
Next came the Adana Kebabs. This has to be my favorite from the night. These minced meat skewered lamb kebabs are delicately spiced and enhanced with fresh herbs, and served on a bed of greens, sumac-sprinkled onion and fries. These traditional kebabs are named after their place of origin, the town of Adana in Turkey.
“Adana kebabı is a long, hand-minced meat kebab mounted on a wide iron skewer and grilled on an open mangal filled with burning charcoal.” – Wikipedia.
Love a good serving of lamb chops? At Ard Zaytoon the chef came to the table with a whole rack! The rack was expertly cut up at the table, and the salt, chili flakes and dried herbs were sprinkled atop with much pizzazz.
The lamb chops were perfectly cooked to a medium-rare. The meat was succulently juicy and oh so flavorful despite having hardly any garnish. It was served with a garlic paste, a salad and fries on the side.
This meaty feast is easily enough for a hungry group of four, and we struggled to get through it. The staff were kind enough to pack up the leftovers for us.
After all that meaty gluttony, we ended our meal with traditional Turkish Baklava. This platter also included a pistachio variation that I loved.
The restaurant has two floors, and the top floor is reserved for shisha smokers. Sadly we were not allowed upstairs with our little one, but took turns to have a puff post dinner! An entire facade has floor to ceiling glass and takes full advantage of the vantage point of the bustling streets of Beach Road.
Unlike the ground floor which was sparsely inhabited, the shisha area had almost every table full (and this was a weekday!). The ambiance here is perfect for unwinding after a long day, and they have all the flavors of shisha you can think of.
My Hubby claims this is the best shisha he has had ever! Even after refills, the smoke was delightfully smooth, and lasted well beyond the usual five to ten puffs. We have to come back sans toddler!