RUE DU LIBAN

Dubai was home to me for 17 years – an eternity for many. Over those years I grew to love Arabic food as we would call it, with Shawarmas being my staple when I first arrived – those days I could get a nice chunky roll for just AED 1. Now back in Bombay I miss what became my comfort food and a cuisine I was very happy to introduce to everyone who came to visit. My cousin was one visitor who loved and relished Arabic food. There was never a visit of his which did not end with a meal at Leila and of course the desserts.

So, when my cousin recently visited Bombay, I wanted to relive some of that nostalgia with him. I had heard about Rue Du Liban (or simply translated to Lebanese Street) as a restaurant serving Levantine cuisine which encompasses food from east of the Mediterranean Sea – think Cyprus, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Palestine, Syria, Turkey, Iraq, and certainly Lebanon.

Located in the heart of Kala Ghoda on the corner of an art deco building, the interiors of Rue Du Liban are inspired by its location and cuisine concept. You walk into a perfectly lit room with velvet upholstery in deep maroon (interior experts might have a name for the exact shade), marble-topped tables with café-styled chairs. The green walls have hand painted murals of olive trees and a dramatic, dangling crystal leaf art installation at the center piece vie for attention.

Rue Du Liban has a well-balanced menu keeping both vegetarians and non-vegetarians in mind. The menu is divided into soup, cold mezze, salad, hot mezze, bakery, grills, desserts, and home-made ice-creams. Counties across the Middle East have many dishes similar but what sets them apart are some of the ingredients they use to differentiate. But underlining most of the cuisine you have some common ingredients such as chickpea, sumac, Za’atar, pomegranate, cherry tomatoes, and how can we forget olive oil.

I feel Hummus is one dish that will determine the authenticity of an Arabic restaurant. Trust me, not all restaurants get it right. The menu offered choices of hummus, but we stuck with the traditional which was accompanied by warm pita bread. The humous was creamy and silken in texture and so comforting – just like I have had it over the years in Dubai and on my visit to Lebanon and Jordan.

We then ordered the Shrimp Saganaki, a dish I have had quite a few times at Greek restaurants. The shrimps were a bit rubbery for my liking but the sauce it was served in was delicious. If there is one dish I would have skipped, it would have been this one.

Besides being partial to shawarma plates, Shish Taouk was always my second go-to dish I would order while in Dubai. These succulent chicken kebabs would come with French fries and the parsley and onion salad, the most fantastic garlic paste called Toum and of course piping hot pita bread which came with the dish automatically. When I asked if the Shish Taouk came with French fries, I was told I would have to order the Batata Maqlieh (which is also served with the garlic paste) separately. Which I did. Expecting pita bread to be an automatic accompaniment, I was disappointed when it did not. Disappointment aside, the Shish Taouk was succulent and flavourful, the French fries tossed in spices were crispy at the bite and soft from within – perfection and the garlic paste – was supreme.  

For dessert we ordered the Baklava – a layered pastry made of filo pastry, filled with chopped nuts, and sweetened with syrup or honey served with mastic ice cream (which is the Greek equivalent of vanilla ice cream). The presentation was insta-worthy as you can see, but this dessert is one that you will definitely need to share.

So, until the skies open again, and I can travel, Rue Du Liban gave me an opportunity to relive some of the flavours that I have missed over the months and for that I am grateful. Would I go back – yes, whenever I feel the urge to remind my self of flavours that were home to me for the longest time.

Location: Rue du Liban, Sassoon Building, 43, Sassoon Building, near Keneseth Eliyahoo Synagogue, VB Gandhi Marg, Kala Ghoda, Mumbai Telephone: +91 7045000015 / +91 22 22864444 Open from 12 NOON – 3 PM; 7 PM – 12 MIDNIGHT

NOTE: I ate at RUE DU LIBAN on my OWN time and money, although we did get a discount once the co-owner recognized my dining companion! The views and opinions expressed on this blog are truly my OWN.