This must-try spot serves fabulous Arabic food made with motherly love
Great food matched by familial warmth at Three by Eva Halasa…
With some restaurants, it’s as much about the warmth of a place as it is about the food. Three by Eva Halasa is one of them. Eva, already a popular TV host in the region, has the sort of gentle, balmy, motherly demeanor that makes you want to give her a cuddle. Prior to opening her own restaurant, she presented and hosted several segments on hit cooking shows, and her passion for food led her to bring her two daughters – Emilie and Lilian – into the kitchen to pass on her cooking secrets.
And at the tail-end of 2021, Eve, Emilie and Lilian eventually made their own dream come true by opening Three by Eva Halasa, converting a beautiful villa in Jumeira (just opposite Boxpark), and sharing a piece of their home with diners in Dubai.
The villa is split into two levels: Downstairs, a small bakery and confectionery with a pretty terrace outside. Upstairs, a light and bright dining hall, with the herby aroma of freshly baked falafel wafting through the room. Rustic interiors provide a slight Mediterranean touch, while the natural stone and wooden floors gives Three its charm.
Onto the food, and Three represents all the wonderful things about Arabic cuisine. The food of the Middle East is, like the region itself, a complex network of interweaving cultures. There’s little doubt, however, that at Three, there is an emphasis on fresh herbs and vegetables, which lightens the whole proposition. Your table will be completely covered with plates, platters and bowls, but a meal here won’t make you feel like someone has tarmaced your tummy.
There’s a colourful fattoush (Dhs30), with tomato, cucumber, peppers, radish, mint and watercress, and a boisterous sumac, molasses and pomegranate dressing. There’s a silky hummus (Dhs24) whipped up with tahini and topped with pine nuts (Dhs18), and fluffy, warm bread to eat it with. The kibbeh (Dhs32) – dense, deep-fried, hollow lamb ovals – are a delicious rush of meaty oils and spice.
And then there are those glorious vine leaves (Dhs25). Stuffing vine leaves with lamb, spices, herbs and lemon is a communal exercise and a labour of love, but when done right, the savoury-meets-sour flavour profiles can knock your socks off, just as it does here.
There’s even more on the menu to explore on next visits: a hearty Jordanian mansaf (lamb cooked in a sauce of dried yogurt and served with rice) and a classic sayyadiyeh (Lebanese fish dish with cinnamon and rice), among many other Middle Eastern family favourites. We’re told by the diners next to us that the kunafa is the ‘best in town’, too.
In between helping serve dishes and welcoming guests, Eva pops by each group of diners to say hello as if she’s known them for years. Does everyone know everyone here? Maybe they do. Maybe they don’t. Maybe everyone’s just made to feel like they’re home.
Three by Eva Halasa, Villa 53, Al Wasl Road, Dubai (opposite Boxpark). Tel: (0)4 576 2888. @threebyeva