The popular Beirut cafe now has two locations in Dubai – the most recent which is conveniently located in downtown Dubai on Emaar Boulevard. Throughout the day and well into the evening the outdoor terrace and indoor seating area are well filled with happy diners.
My guest and took a table inside towards the corner. The ambiance reflected that of a cozy restaurant in Beirut: lots of families and groups of friends pleasantly eating together and chatting away. While warm and friendly, the majority of the Lebanese waiters didn’t speak much English – an element which made the experience all the more authentic and indeed a bit awkward as my guest and I broke into our rudimentary Arabic so that we could order a few basic dishes.
Fresh and savory as Lebanese food is, we ordered a selection of typical starters including tabbouleh, hommous, jebneh baladieh tolmeh – a dish with cheese and tomato equivalent to the Italian mozzarella and pomodoro salad; moutabel, a zesty eggplant spread and a fattoush salad – a typically Levantine salad comprising tomatoes, fried Arabic bread, salad and olive oil and sumac seasoning. We delved into the cold mezze before us relishing in the flavorful elements of Levantine cooking. These were the typical plates one would receive at any Arabic restaurant in Lebanon. The ambiance recalled the comforting and friendly nature of a favorite eatery where the same diners can be spotted on any given day of the week.
Our friendly Arabic-speaking waiter soon cleared our plates and recommended a selection of main courses. We opted for a Kafta b’laban dish which came with three strips of lamb kebab served under yogurt and pine nuts. While not award-wining, the meat was juicy and tender enough and the sauce, while perhaps laden with a bit too much yogurt and pine nuts – was delicious and satisfying. For dessert we opted to share one of the restaurant’s favorites: Osmalliet. The dish is an interestingly sweet concoction comprised of crispy vermicelli and stuffed with ra dish made of crispy vermicelli stuffed with rose and pistachio ice cream. We couldn’t say we weren’t pleased by the finale to our meal.
A relaxed and comfortable ambiance in which to enjoy tasty Levantine cuisine, Leila’s is perfect for a casual night out with a good group of friends.
Leila’s in downtown Dubai is located on Emaar Boulevard. Tel: +971 44483384.