Eat Greek…in Dubai

Eat Greek, The Beach Mall - Baked fettaDubai; I am stunned. I expect a monstrosity of a mall, but instead The Beach Mall is sleek and sexy – a low-level, al fresco space with not a tower in sight. In case you’ve not visited, it’s the newish shopping precint at JBR Walk, sandwiched between the Hilton and Sheraton. Set to bring in over 70 restaurants and retailers once all complete, a smattering of eateries are already open. And my second stunner of the evening is one of these newbies – Eat Greek – an independent restaurant developed by Greek-South African restaurateurs Foodfund International more famously known for The Meat Company and Tribes.

I am super excited we finally have a Greek restaurant this side of town, but with no obvious signage we’re lucky to stumble upon it. Curiosity got the better of me and we plonk ourselves on the last table à deux outside. It’s busy and buzzy for a Monday evening, as is the whole of that area.

I can see a Greek manager roaming around (natives can spot each other a mile away), but we are served by a friendly Kenyan brigade. Our waiter recommends a Greek salad and tzatziki for starters which would be fine as part of a mezze spread, but as standalone starters they are not substantial enough…well for my appetite ;) . So he’s a little taken aback when I reveal my Greek-Cypriot nationality and make my own choices. Talking of which, the menu would benefit from a mezze selection – perhaps a choice of four to five appetisers at a set price. Whilst there’s plenty of souvlaki (kebab), the meat choices for kebab are beef and chicken (with lamb for other dishes) – no pork licence here sadly. And pork is a huge component of Greek cuisine. I should emphasise the food here is Greek-influenced, not so much Cypriot. Whilst there are many similarities, there are also many differences – more explained here and here.

Fried sardinesThe first starter to catch my eye is a version of saganaki, in this case baked instead of fried fetta cheese (more commonly made with graviera, a Cretan sheep’s milk cheese) which arrives as a slab topped with slices of tomato, slithers of pepper and a generous dousing of olive oil. Bubbling away, the saltiness of the smooth fetta is offset by the sweet tomatoes – the star dish of the night. Meanwhile, a couple of sardines are pan-fried in breadcrumbs and stuffed lightly with fetta – served with an intensely spicy tomato and lemon side kick as a dip – and a lightly dressed mache salad. If you can stomach your spice this dish is for you, but whilst all the ingredients feature heavily in Greek cuisine the interpretation and cooking style is not traditional. I do relish the marriage of textures though – crunchy fish and velvety fetta with a slushy dip and silky greens.

KleftikoFor mains, I am drawn to kleftiko which in Cypriot villages is baked in outdoor earthenware ovens. Slow-roasted lamb shank which falls off the bone – here it’s baked and presented in parchment paper with roughly chopped potatoes, green peppers and onions. The potatoes could benefit from slower cooking. They need to be so soft you could almost mash it up with your fork. My pescatarian friend orders a type of butterfish – filleted and grilled with skordalia – a garlic, potato, lemon and olive oil emulsion. Whilst tender and flaky, it’s swimming in too much lemon olive oil. Not a dish she’ll be ordering again. In Greek tavernas, fish is typically freshly caught and served whole, rather than filleted, plus it’s usually char-grilled like at Seaview. I’d be interested to try the calamari and octopus next time round.

LoukoumadesFor a sweet ending to our meal, the loukoumades call out to the child in me. Teeny deep fried doughnuts drizzled with a teeny speck of honey, a popular street food back home – straight out of the frying pan, crispy and gooey – prettily presented in a miniature bucket. Similar to the Arab world’s luqaimat but ours are more chewy with honey replacing the much richer dibbs (date syrup). We polish the six bites pronto, please serve more next time :) .

Service is too rushed with not much of a breather between courses. That could be because a few people are waiting to be seated, but nevertheless, a slower pace is necessary. Note Eat Greek is in soft opening so perhaps give it some time to settle in. The price range is vast, with dips and starters from AED15-70, mains from AED40-160 and desserts AED28-30, so you can actually eat very cheaply or choose to push the boat out. In our case, AED160 per person. The mall has an underground car park with a hefty AED20 per hour charge and unless someone can correct me otherwise, it’s not waived when dining.

As a huge fan of Elia in Bur Dubai (with pork AND booze), I can’t always trek to the other side of town so I am clearly biased, but am delighted traditional and contemporary Greek cuisine is now well represented in New Dubai…albeit without ouzo. All I have left to say is bravo – you gotta Eat Greek.

How often do you consider dining out on Greek? Would you welcome more Greek and Cypriot restaurant concepts?

For a taster of neighbour House of Curry, check out Ishita Unblogged’s review.

A bientôt.

FooDiva. x

  • The Beach Mall, JBR (Jumeirah Beach Residence) Walk
  • + 971 4 4305249
  • Greek
  • AED 160 per person
  • Open daily 12noon to midnight
  • Posted under
    Dubai, Dubai Marina, Greek, Restaurant Reviews, Restaurants

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24 Responses to “Eat Greek…in Dubai”

  1. IshitaUnblogged March 31, 2014 at 9:10 am

    I will be honest – I have only eaten in a Greek restaurant in Frankfurt long time back. I would love to try out Greek Food, going with you might help us to understand the cuisine better. Those loukoumades are calling out to me – am curious as to how different they would be from Leqaimats – and my entire family simply adores them.

    Thanks very much for the shout out:)

    • FooDiva March 31, 2014 at 4:13 pm

      Greek cuisine is so underrepresented here in the UAE – even more so in Abu Dhabi than Dubai! Pop by just for the loukoumades and let me know which ones you and the family prefer :) We should try Elia together some time Ishita.

  2. GA March 31, 2014 at 9:36 am

    You can’t beat a good Greek :) must check this Beach Mall out but the traffic really does put me off. Great review Miss Cyprus :)

    • FooDiva March 31, 2014 at 4:16 pm

      Thanks GA :) We cabbed it simply to avoid parking issues and to easily pop out of the taxi traffic-dependent!

      • GA March 31, 2014 at 4:19 pm

        that sounds like the best way to do it :)

  3. Kelly March 31, 2014 at 9:41 am

    Cypriot cuisine is simple, delicious and versatile. Olive oil, local herbs and vegetables are used a lot thus the healthy Mediterranean diet known worldwide.

    • FooDiva March 31, 2014 at 4:17 pm

      You’ll have to try it Kelly and let me know how you rate it…but it is more Greek than Cypriot.

  4. Andrea Anastasiou March 31, 2014 at 10:23 am

    This place sounds a bit disappointing, to be honest! And while I do enjoy going to places such as Elia, I can’t help but feel we’re really starved for good Greek food in Dubai. Yiayia was promising when it opened, but quickly went downhill and then closed doors. Looks like I’ll have to wait for the next time I go home to enjoy a decent souvlaki, sheftalia and Keo beer – ahhhh, Cyprus :) x

    • Christianna March 31, 2014 at 11:43 am

      I have to agree with Andreas on this one! the beauty of Greek (and Cypriot) cuisine lies within its simplicity and wonderful ingredients.I can’t quite figure out how restaurants here seem to get something so simple, so wrong..I found Eat Greek to be very disappointing. (they kind of lost me when they served sliced bread – you know, the type we use for sandwiches(!!) ) From the other items on the menu that my friends and I tried, some were yummy, but not even close to any known greek flavour..I do agree with Foodiva about the feta saganaki though – that was delicious!
      What I also found disappointing is that although I introduced myself to the Greek Manager and wished him “good luck” etc., he never bothered to pass by our table afterwords to ask for any feedback etc etc..
      We Greeks/ Cypriots cook at home, visit our homelands and get to experience our wonderful cuisine..I do hope the day comes that we will be able to experience and share original Greek/Cypriot food in the UAE as well!

      • FooDiva March 31, 2014 at 4:39 pm

        As I just replied to Andrea, looks like some dishes are winners and others need revisiting. Bar the fish dish the food impressed us, but looks like consistency may be an issue given your experience wasn’t the same. What else did you order? You’re right about the manager, he should have wooed you with Greek charm ;) There were plenty of Greeks dining when I was there but I didn’t really see him chatting away. Have you tried El Greco? Your comment is much appreciated :)

        • Christianna March 31, 2014 at 7:35 pm

          Hello again! No, haven’t tried El Greco..perhaps worth a joint visit ;) Ok, I’m sold on giving Eat Greek another shot…maybe we got them on a bad day…it’s still soft opening, but one would hope they would be trying their best at this time! will def let you know what my impressions of next visit are!
          C x

    • FooDiva March 31, 2014 at 4:29 pm

      Some dishes work better than others and from my experience it’s those that stay true to the cuisine Andrea – without trying to reinterpret it. I liked Yiayia’s decor but the food in my opinion was dreadful from day one. I even had food poisoning! Good riddance ;) Am with you on the souvlaki and especially the Cypriot sheftalia – straight off the charcoal grill and rammed into warm pitta with salad. Salivating now :) Pork licence required here though. Have you tried the teeny kebab joint El Greco in Jumeirah? They are @elgrecoarabia on Instagram. I’ve not been since the ownership changed. Thanks for dropping by with a comment :) x

  5. noreen - the vanilla bean dream March 31, 2014 at 6:48 pm

    Greek food is SO underrepresented here in Dubai. There used to be a lot of Greeks in my hometown so we were blessed with quite a variety of restaurants around. I always love a Greek preparation of octopus. I tried Elia about 6 years ago and I have yet to try Eat Greek. I have to make my way back to both. That saganaki looks lovely.

    • FooDiva April 1, 2014 at 8:15 am

      They have a grilled octopus dish with paprika and lemon oil Noreen. Can be tricky here to get tender octopus so let’s hope they pull it off. Definitely order the fetta :)

  6. SoChivi March 31, 2014 at 7:06 pm

    Great roundup of the best Greek eating spotsi in Dubai… as some of the previous commenters mentioned, finding good and quality Greek restaurants around the city is not simple so this roundup truly helps… and also helps in getting me super hungry ;)

  7. Amanda April 2, 2014 at 1:07 am

    Good to read the review Foodiva…….my sentiments exactly, u can be my dining companion anytime!!!

    • FooDiva April 2, 2014 at 12:55 pm

      Likewise Amanda :)

  8. Sarah Walton April 2, 2014 at 11:37 am

    Interesting – In new dubai, but with the parking and traffic at JBR, I think I’d prefer the trek to Bur Dubai! Really need to get back to Elia soon

    • FooDiva April 2, 2014 at 12:57 pm

      I would probably agree with you Sarah! Mind you, we purposely cabbed it so we could jump out of a taxi if traffic threatened. And we did pop into Hilton Pure sky bar for a sundowner :)

  9. Bronwyn April 7, 2014 at 9:48 am

    We were a little hesitant to visit Eat Greek restaurant after we read your review, as we had recently visited other restaurants and had not such good experiences! However, we decided to give them a try and were pleasantly surprised!

    Nicely laid out restaurant with a nice cosy interior. We ordered a few cold and hot meza’s and although basic and nothing fancy we were very happy with them. We asked for Pita bread and were told we would be charged 10 dhs for one Pita bread, which i thought was a bit cheeky as in my opinion that should of come standard with all meza’s. The greek salad was nice and fresh although the tomatoes were floury. The baked feta was lovely! After all the meza’s we never got to try out all the mains, as we were too full, but we will defiantly visit again!

    • FooDiva April 7, 2014 at 11:22 am

      Mezze is the way to go with Greek food I feel Bronwyn. I agree charging for pitta is unacceptable. Thanks so much for dropping in with a comment :)

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