Greg Malouf's Zahira: The new Levantine hotspot
Award-winning chef Greg Malouf is back in Dubai! This time, the Australian-Lebanese culinary maestro is spearheading Zahira, a modern Middle Eastern restaurant that puts the focus on sharing. After the tantalising flavours which he delivered with Cle, food aficionados can expect another journey through Levantine gastronomy and Malouf.
Located on the first floor of the H Hotel Dubai, Zahira welcomes diners with both grandeur and mystery courtesy of a passageway that screams chic minimalism before opening up to the luxurious main dining area and a more casual lounge. Visually spectacular, the space features wooden floors, Tom Dixon lighting, private corner booths and a large scale reprint of a drawing from a 100-year-old book, which happens to be Malouf's favourite literary choice. As you sink into the wooden chairs, the sense of touch comes to the fore as wood is juxtaposed against plush suede, a prelude to the contrasting and complementary gastronomic flavours.
Drawing inspiration from art, Malouf's exquisite contemporary Levantine menu is divided into five artistic components: Art of Mezza, Art of the Garden, Art of Sharing, Art of Sweet Design and Art of Feasting, where the chef will curate a special nine or 12-course dinner menu that showcases the iconic flavours of the region. Good news for those with specific dietary requirements too as gluten-free and vegan options are available.
For appetisers, the must-trys are the wagyu basturma (fresh smoked beef) that's perfectly complemented by the house shankleesh and the salmon kibbeh. Seafood lovers can start their meals with a big serving of Gulf prawns which have been marinated in green chermoula.
Next, tantalise your tastebuds with the exceptional lamb shoulder which has been marinated for two hours before slow cooked for nine to ensure the flavourful meat literally falls off the bone. While the lamb shoulder is a winner in its own right, especially with the perfect accompaniment of pumpkin and labneh, Zahira's pièce de résistance for the mains has to be the roasted sea bass fillet tarator style: perfectly cooked and supple fish contrasted playfully in your mouth against the crispy skin that's been coated with tomatoes, coriander, chilli, walnuts and tahini. To top it off, the dish includes a zaatar-filled crispy pastry that adds further texture to the main course.
Then, satisfy the sugar cravings with a host of dessert classics such as the pavlova that's been mixed with organic rose blossom labneh instead of the traditional cream infusion. However, if you prefer to stick to the Middle Eastern theme, then the kanafeh is the ultimate choice with its flower infused syrup and pistachios.
Before you end your culinary experience at Zahira, browse through the reading shelf that features a variety of titles from art books to chef Malouf's own popular culinary books. With a comprehensive regional menu, an inspired decor that excites the senses, a crew that's as social as they are knowledgeable and even a choice of literary take-homes, Zahira is indeed making a statement of gastronomic intent and one which would likely see chef Malouf in the emirate for a long time yet.
For reservations, call +971 4 501 8606. Now, discover Dubai's new Japanese hotspot, Katsuya.
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