Colourful, beachside dining that transports guests to the shores of Lebanon…

Picture yourself surrounded by your people, a cool breeze blows, the sun’s going down over the sea and your table is jam-packed with small plates.

On them are plump olives, steaming hot pita bread, zaatar made with wild thyme foraged from a hillside, sun-kissed tomatoes and cucumbers straight from the vine and succulent mixed grills whose tantalising aroma precedes their arrival. It always seems impossible that there’s room for one more plate, but there somehow always is at the Lebanese table. You’ll find this table just a short drive away at Beirut Sur Mer in Mamsha, Saadiyat Island’s new beachside hotspot.

Beirut Sur Mer interior

Lebanon’s capital, Beirut, was once known as the ‘Paris of the Middle East’. Knowing that the cuisine’s dedication to service is unsurprising and at Beirut Sur Mer it can upstage the food itself. Order anything marked ‘tableside’ and see for yourself. The server’s Sunday-best attire belies a very human service execution that somehow is still strictly fine dining; a tough balancing act, but this spot executes it on point.

So, let’s start with the tome that is a Lebanese menu – all 13 pages of it! When faced with the dozens of items, those less familiar with the cuisine may feel spoilt for choice if a bit confused.

Beirut Sur Mer food

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The cold mezze –from quinoa tabbouleh (Dhs41) to the glorious tableside crab moutabal (Dhs92) – was like eating a plate full of summer. The herbs and vegetables are fresh, and the dressing light and complementary. The quinoa tabbouleh that we tried was effervescent and more like a fresh herb salad with a hint of quinoa rather than the other way around, leaving room for more mezze. The hot mezze is equally enticing and built to share. The halloumi bil teen (Dhs38), aka fig jam-topped halloumi, was a particularly delightful flavour combo.

The mains smelled delicious, but we ate so much mezze that we never got so far. This was not an optimal Lebanese meal strategy, though a delicious one.

We did try two delicious desserts. The millefeuille Beiruty (Dhs45) is constructed tableside. It’s great for the ‘gram, but it’s also fun to see the server put it all together with such flair. This dessert, along with the Baklawa Ashta, with their pistachio candy floss garnish and piquant sour cherry sauce drizzles, are tasty little works of art.

Verdict: Beirut Sur Mer offers the finest service and a vast menu that will leave you wanting to linger for hours if only to try more plates of mezze, but don’t be like us! Save room for your mains. Note, this isn’t the cheapest Lebanese food in town, but it’s well worth the splurge if you’re shelling out for an occasion.

Beirut Sur Mer, Mamsha, Saadiyat Island. Tel: (054)  3954000. @beirutsurmer

Images: Supplied