Olea [Restaurant Review]

There are truckloads of Arabic restaurants here in the UAE. Over the years of being here, I’ve tried so many of them and to be honest, I feel like I taste the same thing in each and every one of them. That being said, Olea truly impressed me. The food, the restaurant design, the incredible attention to detail; it really makes it different from practically every other Arabic restaurant I’ve been to.

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The restaurant is newly opened and located in Kempinski Hotel in Mall of the Emirates. We made our way there for lunch last weekend and were warmly welcomed by the maitre d’ and asked if we preferred indoor or outdoor seating. After opting for indoor, we were seated in the middle area of the restaurant. This is when we saw just how massive Olea is!

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There are so many different kinda of seating arrangements, from private dining rooms, to L-shaped benches, couple tables, large family-style couches, a bar area and an outdoor dining space.

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It’s such a beautiful restaurant and there’s plenty of space and great if you want to hold a birthday dinner or event here.

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Our waiter soon brought out the menu and there was a vast selection of different dishes from all over the Middle East. They placed green olives on our table and explained that they were shipped in from Cyprus just that day, and that there are different kinds of olives each day.

After flipping through the menu, we decided on our order with the help of the waiter. We ordered some Kibbeh for my baby Khalifa and they so kindly brought it out as soon as they could. I snuck a taste of it and they were perfectly cooked and well-spiced. Khalifa is an incredibly picky eater but he loved them, so that definitely says something about it!

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While he enjoyed his Kibbeh, our drinks and appetizers arrived at the table. For drinks, we ordered two different mocktails– the Levant & Company and the Spiced Honey Colada.

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My drink included the usual suspects of a pina colada (coconut and pineapple) but was taken up a notch with an addition of honey, lime and cinnamon. The Levant & Company was also a twist on the typical berry drink, as it had an interesting and eccentric hit of black pepper and cinnamon. Both were divine!

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For starters, we ordered Batata Harra (spicy potatoes) and Kebdet Dajaj (chicken livers). Both of them were exceptional! The thing is, when you see it on the menu, it sounds like any other typical starter dish at an Arabic restaurant, but both of them tasted so different from any other of its kind (and I mean that in the best way possible). The Batata Harra was made using very small whole potatoes instead of the usual diced large potato. This gave it so much more flavor!  Usually, this dish isn’t served with a sauce. However, Olea once again, stepped it up by adding an incredibly flavorful, creamy sauce. Just FYI, my mouth is watering now as I type this– it was so good!

I’m not really a fan of chicken livers, but when the waiter insisted that we try it and that he would “put his life on it” (his exact words), we went for it and I don’t regret it one bit! The sauce that came with it only leaves a little hint of that liver taste and the sauce is so good that I was scouring the corners of the bowl for the last bits of it!

As your enjoying your meal, waiters with trays of freshly made warm Arabic bread pass by and serve it to you while its still hot out of the oven. Definitely not your usual packaged Arabic bread.

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Our main course came out– we ordered the Mixed Grill and the Mansaf Bil Lahmeh. The Mixed Grill came with lamb chops, kebabs, kofta, shish tawook as well as grilled garlic, tomatoes and onion for garnish. All of the meat was very well-cooked and tender. My husband literally ate the whole thing, and its quite a heavy platter.

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My mansaf was exquisite. I know its probably, like, blasphemous to say this but it was literally better than some of the mansaf that I’ve had on my trips to Jordan! The rice was perfect and the meat was fall-off-the- bone, melt-in-your-mouth delicious. The portion size is very generous and since mansaf is already a filling meal, so I could hardly finish my dish. The hubby tried helping but he was, of course, stuffed from is meal.

The manager came by and insisted that we try at least one of their desserts, so we agreed to have just one.

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Our Halawet Eljibin came to the table in 5-star form. This is definitely not your grandma’s version of the dessert! The sweets were covered in a fluffy cotton candy and when they poured the syrup, the cotton candy disappeared and revealed the Syrian sweet cheese-filled delights. Check out the magic of it here.

I don’t normally give this kind of praise  to a restaurant, but this has definitely got to be my new favorite place for Arabic cuisine. It’s classy, it’s beautiful, the staff are all friendly and happy to talk to you, and the food is levels up from your typical dishes.

Ratings (0-5): 

  • Staff/Service: 5
  • Cleanliness: 5
  • Food: 5
  • Value for money: 5

Overall Rating: 5

Worth Trying?: I believe this is the first time that I’ve ever given 5/5 to any place! So yes, its definitely worth trying!

For more information, call Olea at +971 (0) 409 5111.

 

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