A selection to impress…

People may think Iftar previews are relatively simple – a formula, with a circle of typical dishes in rotation that you can find on virtually every Iftar menu ever. The dishes are generally Middle Eastern and less reflective of what sort of fare the venue actually serves. There is a fine line between being gimmick-y and culturally appropriate and many fail to perform the balancing act (Exhibit A: hot and cold mezze). But not at Alizée.

Why we’re loving it

Alizée, contemporary Mediterranean spot at the newly-opened Banyan Tree, has perhaps taken the essence of Ramadan, and captured it in a way that compliments that feeling. The Iftar menu, priced at Dhs255 per head, is carefully crafted for this occasion and takes the very best notes of what a quintessential Iftar menu looks like, because we still love those, and adds to it it’s very own Mediterranean lightness. From day to night – just like that.

The restaurant and beach club presents very much like a sunshine-sea-and-the-sun space. The chic setting will take you from the edges of the hotel to the pool and beyond, to the golden sands, amidst refreshing burnt orange decor, lush greenery and wooden and rattan elements. It’s all very laid back and breezy, and so the dressed-up ambiance for this particular evening is a sweet transformation.

What’s On the menu?

We break our fast accompanied by the strains of the oud, played for the guests live. Our meal begins with a salad and some light starters – the best way to commence when you’ve been on an empty stomach all day. The cheese rokakat and the tabbouleh salad are the perfect balance – a refreshing, tart salad and a hearty, cheesy rokakat. The rokakat is eternally crunchy but not once does it feel heavy on the oil. Dipped, not very traditionally, in the hummus, which is good hummus, but standard at best, it makes for a great combination.

The confit salmon with vegetables and the lentil soup with crispy Arabic bread are a gentle segue into the mains. The salmon is airy and cooked to perfection but could do with some more seasoning. The lentil soup is savoury, salty and warms the soul – great added crunch from the bread.

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For the mains, we are served seabass sayadieh, char-mixed grill and pasta alla norma. The seabass, very traditionally Mediterranean, comes with a terrific side of rice and all the seasoning, and is a clear winner. In terms of an Iftar meal, it has all the right components for one to feel satisfied – complete and very palatable. The crispy onions and bell peppers tie everything together nicely for some varying texture.

The pasta alla norma, like the hummus, is also good but standard, and the dish of choice for maybe the picky eaters who prefer not to experiment. The best part of the entire menu is the char-grilled mix. Shish tawook, lamb kofta and ribs – everything prime, melt-in-the-mouth goodness with actually distinguishable flavours, grilled with a hint of delicious smokiness. We polish off every morsel and we promise, this is one platter of kebabs you’ll want to keep coming back for.

By the time we’re walking to the dessert counter inside, we’re stuffed and happy, and the sight of a chocolate fondue fountain makes it all the better. The rest of the desserts are part of the usual sweet buffet and are a fitting end to the meal as any.

What’s On Verdict: A seamless fusion of original and traditional 

Alizée Restaurant, Pool and Beach, Banyan Tree Dubai, Bluewaters, sunset, Tel: (0)4 556 6466, banyantree.com 

Images: Supplied