When it comes to Lebanese cuisine in the capital, I don't bother straying from the trusted Lebanese Flower and Marroush. You can find the juciest grills and shwarmas, creamiest hummus and moutabel and the most filling mixed fruit mocktail in the city at prices you cannot beat. More fine-dining Lebanese options have cropped up recently in the form of Fairmont Bab Al Bahr's Cedar Lounge among others, but the former two still remain my go-to options. A recent work gathering, however, took me to a restaurant I wouldn't normally drop by given its location at Souk Qaryat al Beri. Online reviews would've also done little to cajole me to go there as they are filled with criticism of the service and quality of food. I have to admit, I did go with some preconceived notions about the place, but in a way, they worked to tame my expectations to such a degree that anything passable was welcomed.
The indoor seating area was smaller than I though it would be, although there was a large outdoor area with a view of the glorious Sheikh Zayed Mosque. I was surprised to see that they had a bar which stocked alcohol - not something that I'd associate with a restaurant in a (high-end) mall with a name like Abdel Wahab. But, what did I tell you about preconceived notions? Anyway, the menu had been picked beforehand, so we patiently waited for them to introduce every course on our table.
First came the cold mezzes in the form of tabouleh, fattoush, hummus and moutabel along with freshly baked pita bread. They were all quite good.
Next came the hot starters: kibbeh (rather dry), chicken wings (soggy skin due to being soaked in the strong lemon dressing/gravy, and the chicken was smelly), cocktail sausages (also predominantly sour due to a generous drizzle of lemon juice) and cubed potatoes sauteed in garlic and herbs (absolutely divine!). I was a little confused about why two of the meat offerings were so strongly flavored with lemon. Anyway, after a wait of about ten minutes, the main course was served, which was basically mixed grill on a platter. The grill was below average in my opinion, and the shish tawook actually looked under cooked. I helped myself to half a kofta before deciding to call it a night. Dessert was a selection of fresh fruits, so there's not much to review there.
Service was ordinary - slower than I would've liked, but not outright rude as I was expecting (from the reviews). At one point, my friend handed her camera to a waiter to capture a group shot, and his mortified reaction was quite out of place although he did oblige. I made a mental note of the name appearing on his nametag, but perhaps it would be unfair to share it here.
The restaurant is obviously on the pricey side given its location and alcohol license, and the set menu came to about 160 per person. Would I recommend it? No. Would I go back? Maybe if I'm in the mood for some outdoor shisha while enjoying a stunning view when I happen to have a car at my disposal...