The Food Byte: Zaatar W Zeit, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai

Friday, August 17, 2018

To me, Zaatar W Zeit is pretty much like a friend's home I'd go hang out at. It's got the same friendly vibes, home food aroma wafting through and familiar faces. From "Hey, you want to go to Zaatar W Zeit?" after watching a movie to "I'm ordering from Zaatar. You want anything" at work, the Lebanese restaurant has become a staple in my life.

These days whenever I'm in Abu Dhabi, a quick lunch is always at Zaatar W Zeit (also known as ZwZ). On that note, there's nothing 'quick' about the lunch. We usually take an hour and 45 mins to eat our way through and have a good conversation. 

The food at ZwZ never gets old. Everyone I know has a special love for that one item off the menu. I have several favorites (featured here is the one that tops my list!) and I had them again when I visited the new branch at Palm Jumeirah. 

Located at the Golden Mile 2 (Building 9), Palm Jumeirah, ZwZ has opened up a cosy branch and added new items + combo meals into their menu. We started with the latest kid on the block, the Mega Sampler. The sharing combo features breaded Chicken Tenders that melt in your mouth, Potato Pizzas- an innovative take on the standard pizza, mixed Cheese Balls and Potato Wedges all served with honey mustard sauce. My favorites are the Chicken Tenders and the Potato Pizzas- who thought topping baked potato slices with tomato sauce, cheese and olives would taste so good?

While ZwZ has a handful of salads, none can beat the Chicken Kale. This antioxidant, iron and Vitamin K, A, C rich Kale salad combined with flax seeds, thyme, purslane, dried apricots and grilled chicken topped with a balsamic dressing make it a delight to chow down. The apricots balance out the tangy flavor the dressing imparts.

If you aren't a fan of this powerhouse of leaves, try the classic Fattoush. This non-complicated salad is a staple at every Arabic cuisine restaurant and a favorite of many. For me it's a different story. My visit to ZwZ is never complete without the Chicken Kale arriving at the table.

We heralded the main course that featured the Chicken Marinara and the Barbecue Chicken Pizza. Sitting atop a rich bed of velvety Marinara Sauce, the perfectly roasted chicken enveloped in the flavors of grilled potato and aubergine made it a delectable dish to savor! 

The chicken was quite tender and the sauce added a taste that can only be described as savory perfection. Attempting to replicate the Marinara Sauce at home was far from success. There's something in the way seasoned cooks make their sauces. It's a given that when I pay a visit to Italy, I'm coming home with 5 jars of the best Marinara sauce. One can never have too much of it at home!

This was the first time I ordered pizza at the restaurant and was pleasantly surprised by how the chef makes it. The Barbecue Chicken Pizza is not made of the standard pizza dough we are all used to. In a surprising twist, ZwZ uses a flat bread version of the base (so it is an extremely thin and crispy bread). 

With a delicious barbecue sauce at the base, the pizza was topped with chicken, olives, bell peppers, mushrooms and a combination of mozzarella and cheddar cheese. Regardless of the crust, this pizza was appetizing. It's pretty much a pizza that makes its way in front of the TV screen on a Thursday evening while you watch Netflix.

I always say no meal is complete without dessert. I was born with a sweet tooth and have spent countless hours in the kitchen trying to replicate some of the best desserts I've had across the globe. While some have been disasters (a cake with 5 eggs never baked right and all those strawberries were a waste), the others have been massive repeat successes (hello, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate mousse and smooth as silk dark chocolate orange truffles). Having just discovered the best dessert at ZwZ,  I chowed it down before I could take a picture. The Chocolate Mousse Cake is going to take your taste buds to Dessertville. One of the best mousses I've had and I only discovered it of late! 

If you think chocolate is too much for your liking (sorry, we can't be friends), try the Tiramisu. Perfectly made in a cup, the Italian dessert is a light take on the original and doesn't skimp on the taste. Not a Tiramisu fan (you must be a tad bit weird)? 

Try the Strawberry Cheesecake. Also served in a cup, this fulfilling dessert strikes the right balance between the sweet tangy strawberry and the cheesecake. If you are more of a I-want-something-less-complicated (I'm beginning to question the kind of kind of childhood you've had), try the classic Strawberry Jello. In this unforgiving summer season, the jello is one of those perfect childhood desserts.

A visit to Zaatar W Zeit always leaves me with a smile on my face. You can't complain about the food, quality, price, service and ambiance (+ no parking hassles at either of their locations). They all meet my expectations (friends who dine at the restaurant will vouch for the same). One of the things I love about the place is that they keep the food items on the menu simple. They don't quite add 15 different ingredients to a dish and neither are the serving sizes skimped on. 

Every dish is quite fulfilling- from the salads to the main courses (you have to try their Manakeesh and wraps!) and you aren't going to walk out disappointed. My only one request is to add watermelon juice to their juices menu and never replace the Chocolate Mousse Cake with another dessert. I rate the Palm Jumeirah branch 4/5 stars. 

A meal for two with juices costs about AED 120. Apart from the branch at the Palm, Zaatar W Zeit has also opened up at Almas Tower, JLT and Springs Souk. Connect with them through Facebook , Instagram (@zaatarwzeituae) or Twitter and never go hungry!

Zaatar W Zeit Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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