Let me just start by saying that there’s certainly no shortage when it comes to Lebanese restaurants in Abu Dhabi. What makes Zaytinya special, you say? Glad you asked!
I’ve only been there once before for coffee and a chit chat session with my girls. I went for an “official” visit last weekend and discovered that there was plenty more to love!
Staff & Ambiance:
Lots of beautiful middle eastern woodwork and mosaic fabric lined the walls. They had comfortable long sofa seats with deep purple accent pillows. There was also a glass screen that lets you see the kitchen staff busy at work which I thought was a nice touch. I suggest going there during day time because that’s when you can really appreciate the interiors.
The staff members were so friendly and accommodating! They did an awesome job recommending the meals we had to try.
This has been by far the most trying experience for me because 75% of the menu was a carb fiesta. That being said, the remaining 25% proved that you can still slip into a food coma if you play your cards right.
We were served 2 of their best selling soups, the creamy mushroom and the traditional Harira soup. I chose the mushroom soup thinking it was the safest option since the Harira is mainly cooked with chickpeas and lentils. The moment I ate up that last spoonful of creamy goodness, I realized that they probably had to use flour or starch to get that thick consistency. But you know what, it was well worth it. #noragrets
On the other hand, my sister was so impressed by the Harira soup that she and the waiter got into a discussion about how different Arab countries prepare it. We’ve learned that in Morocco, they slow cook the lamb with the bone, because apparently the bone broth gives it a richer flavor and makes the soup more nutritious.
We were also served traditional Tabouleh (not keto), Fatoush (keto, if you avoid the crispy pita bits), Baba Ghanouj (proceed with caution), grilled eggplants with tahini (keto friendly) and my favorite, the shrimp avocado salad (100% keto).
The grilled shrimp with avocado salad was great, mainly because of it’s simplicity and how fresh the ingredients were. Fatty, tangy and absolutely delicious! Another noteworthy appetizer was the grilled Halloumi. You can never go wrong with Halloumi.
For the mains, I tried the Saturday chef’s special; Dawood Basha. It’s basically meat balls cooked in a tomato sauce with fragrant spices and garnished with pine nuts. It also comes with a side of rice, but I was more than happy to eat it by itself. I highly recommend this one!
My sister tried the other Saturday special; lamb Mansaf. Although I was focused on stuffing my face, I think I heard her say “this is a work of art” at some point. 😂
Huda also sampled their beef lasagna and some of their cold/hot mezze platters like Muhammara, Hummus, Falafel and pastries. Needless to say, she was over the moon.
A note to my non Keto readers: be sure to try their shakes or icecream if you want to end things on a sweet note.
Other cool things you need to know about Zaytinya:
•They can provide catering services for office lunches and events.
•You can use 1+1 deals on Entertainer and Zomato Gold.
•They also serve shisha.
•They’ve recently added some continental items to their menu, which means there’s a little something for everyone.
You can tell that a lot of love and thought went into preparing every dish. I know for a fact that I’ll be ordering from them the next time my family decides to have a grand Friday lunch. My only regret is not going there sooner.
Special thanks to Mr. Omar and the amazing Zaytinya staff for arranging this wonderful feast. It’s really been a pleasure!