Modern Lebanese that’s made to share…

You don’t just happen upon the restaurants along Sheikh Zayed Road. You’re not likely to stroll past, and you’re often driving by at such speeds that the names whiz by in a blur. You have to dine here with intent.

So, when we visit Dubai newcomer Al Beiruti Restau-Café during a midweek lunch break, and find the huge Umm Al Sheif space filled with the din of happy diners, it’s clear they’re doing something right.

al beiruti

The industrial-chic dining room is split into two halves, with smokers on one side and abstainers on the other. With the clang of the open kitchen and the buzz of diners reverberating off the tile and concrete floors, this is a space that feels instantly inviting.

The menu feels warm and familiar, too, with a lengthy line-up of Lebanese staples. Breakfasts of shakshouka, foul, and fresh-from-the-oven manakeesh lead into a list of bright salads, sandwich platters, and smoky grills.

Al beiruti cold mezze

There’s a freshness and vitality to the cold dishes, such as watermelon salad with salty nabulsi cheese (Dhs38), and baba ghanouj (Dhs25) garnished with pomegranate and mint.

Hummus with pine nuts and meat (Dhs37) and Al Beiruti kebbe (Dhs38) are substantial and satisfying, although the kebbe’s pool of pomegranate molasses may be too cloying for some.

al beiruti hummus

Featuring tender shish tawouk, grilled lamb, gently spiced kafta, excellent hand-cut chips, chargrilled vegetables, toum, and parsley-flecked flatbread, the mixed grill (Dhs62 for 250g) is a meal in itself.

It’s hard not to over-order here, but as the large groups of diners (and portion sizes) will attest, this is food that’s best shared with a crowd – and light, bright Lebanese food that’s worth a detour off Sheikh Zayed Road.

Al Beiruti Restau-Café, Umm Al Sheif, Exit 41, Sheikh Zayed Rd, Dubai, daily 8am to 2am. Tel: (04) 320 0043. @albeirutiofficial