Page 49 - Simply Abu Dhabi Magazine VII

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ebanese food is renowned across the globe as a cuisine that truly packs a
punch. It’s spicy, fresh and contains a universe of captivating flavours. It’s
satisfying, it’s endlessly varied and it’s ideal for sharing. That’s why so many
people – including us – count it among their favourites. Of course, there are plenty
of Lebanese restaurants in Abu Dhabi. But the one we were visiting for our latest
instalment of the A&J diaries – Li Beirut at the Jumeirah at Etihad Towers hotel –
is something a little different.
Because we were staying at the fabulous Jumeirah, we knew all about the sumptuous
experience with which it provides its guests: the hotel is the very epitome of luxury.
Even within this context, though, Li Beirut’s design amazed us as soon as we
entered. From the dazzling red drinks glasses, to the gorgeous crisp tablecloths and
plush chairs, it simply oozed elegance. We were stunned by the appearance, even
before we sat down. And as we began to peruse the menu, I had a growing sense
that this would be a meal to remember.
Thrilled by the grill
We were both thrilled by our starters. Jordana opted for the grilled halloumi cheese
and pineapple. This combination is a winner, and here it was executed to perfection.
The acidity of the fresh fruit made the perfect partner to the rich, salty cheese. I was
also hugely impressed by the dish I chose to start with: foie gras kibbeh. This one is
a house speciality at Li Beirut: it’s a fascinating, unique and luxurious take on a
traditional Levantine dish. Opening up the shell of the kibbeh revealed that it
contained a generous helping of exquisite foie gras. Even better, the mouthwatering,
opulent kibbeh was accompanied by a glorious walnut chutney and delicious pieces
of pear caramelised with honey.
Through experiencing this majestic starter, I was already getting a feeling for what
drives Chef Nidal, the renowned culinary expert who heads up the operation here.
He’s a man who is rooted in peerless gastronomic tradition, while constantly striving
to innovate and entertain. Chef Nidal takes classic Lebanese cuisine to a new realm
of artistry by using modern cooking styles and refined arrangements. This is
Lebanese fare, certainly – but not as you know it.
Beautifully tender
Overall, our starters were sublime, and they set the tone for a main course that was
even better. Jordana ordered the Sultan Ibrahim. We were anticipating the fish to
be cooked to perfection, but when it arrived, the dish surpassed our expectations –
and it was accompanied with gorgeous side dishes of rice and fresh vegetables.
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