The Najda branch is the capital’s second, but how does it compare to the original?

There is no shortage of Levantine restaurants in Abu Dhabi. And you don’t have to dig too far to see why. There’s the region’s rich heritage of culinary traditions, the world-famous hospitality and of course… the *swoons* shawarma.

And the authentic representation of these principles is what helped build the first Mosaic restaurant, located in Muroor, develop a devoted following. Famous in foodie circles for signature mezze dishes, mixed grills and a chicken musakhan that’s the stuff of neatly wrapped legend.

The Najda venture brings Mosaic’s menu to the heart of the capital, where it’s surrounded by a collection of more-than-competent competitors. And we were curious to see if the brand was able to recreate that same level of Lebanese dining experience in its new home.

A ‘focus on detail’ is an immediately evident priority at Mosaic. The interior design aesthetic is busy but not cluttered. Above our heads there’s a ceiling of chandelier stars, the floor appropriately frames a mosaic, and the walls are punctuated with joyfully eclectic objets d’art.

We ask the waiter to send through a snapshot of the restaurant’s signature menu items. As the flurry of appetisers begins to arrive, it’s clear that Mosaic’s reputation for warm hospitality has been earnestly-replicated here.

The hommos Beirut spread liberally across the freshly puffed Arabian bread is the perfect start to proceedings, in fact we could quite happily subsist on this combo alone. But this is not our first review rodeo, and however good it is, filling up on bread is a rookie error.

Our top picks for cold appetisers include the Dr. quinoa salad, tabbouleh and the motabbal Mosaic. None of which deserve to be left on the side, these are lunchtime headliners in their own right.

We officially endorse the elite status of the chicken musakhan, possibly our favourite element of the meal. Little parcels of spiced poultry, that are tantamount to a Narnian wardrobe of transportative fragranced flavour.

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The Soujok and makanek sausages are big winners too. Served in a rich, subtly citrussy, molasses gravy.

We enjoyed the absolutely faultless mixed grill, but the biggest cause for our main course applause is the meat shawarma. The tender beef is wrapped in delicate, wholesome saj and dribbled in a nutty-undertoned tahini dressing. A solid, distinct, interpretation of a classic.

Verdict: This Mosaic 2.0 is absolutely worthy of the name. This is authentic, taste-led, Lebanese passion food. Of course they deliver too, but you’ll only get the real art of the experience, by sitting at one of their tables. B+

Mosaic, Vision Towers, Al Najda Street, daily midday to 11.30pm. Tel: (02) 633 637,

Images: What’s On Archive/ Provided