Abd El Wahab
Stunning decor and good value Lebanese food in Moda Mall 6 Reviews
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Lebanese restaurants are a curious breed of eatery. I’m often taken to restaurants by Lebanese colleagues that have the ambience of a static caravan and yet which serve some of the best Lebanese food I have tasted outside of Lebanon. On the other hand, you can head to some Lebanese restaurants that are stunningly decked out, and yet which serve food so awful one can only assume the head chef is a waiter.
The oddly named Abd El Wahab, part of a Beirut-based chain, is stunning. On the opposite wing of the World Trade Centre to Maki, the two-storey restaurant is one of the most eye-catching in Bahrain. Blending Arabic tones and fixtures with the feel of a modern metropolis, the restaurant has got the ambience just about right. Which, it has to be said, didn’t bode well for the food.
The restaurant itself is teeming with waiters. There are Arabic-speaking head waiters (denoted by their waistcoats), and English-speaking assistant waiters for those who can’t speak Arabic. As I wondered through this audience of waiters, all of whom gasped in horror, ‘Just one?’ I got the impression that dining alone in a Lebanese restaurant is not the done thing. Even the hasty appearance of the massive novel I was reading book did little to prevent the waiters popping over and asking how many people would be joining me.
The menu here is short and to the point: hot starters, cold starters, mains and desserts. There is no getting lost, and no great surprises either. I ordered a couple of salads to start, along with grilled hammour for a main. This was going to be no great lesson in Lebanese cuisine, but would be a good test of how they did all the standards.
As soon as I ordered, my table was furnished with three bowls containing some of the best olives I have ever tasted, some soaked almonds on ice, and some of the white beans that the Lebanese are so fond of but which I really don’t like all that much. I devoured as many of the olives and almonds as I could manage in the 30 seconds between ordering and the starters arriving.
Service here is nothing if not quick, and no sooner has the starters arrived than the main appeared. I have to admit, in terms of presentation, my grilled hammour needed something. The two sticks of kebab hemmed between a rather stale-looking bit of pita bread was definitely no work of art. And that fact it came without any rice or vegetables seemed a little bit off. But I was grateful for the salad and baba ghanoush, which together with the fish made a rather delightful meal.
When it came to ordering dessert, I was rather up for trying something traditional, and went through each of the interesting sounding options, but without much luck. Nothing was available except for the ashta, which sounded heavy on dairy, and therefore something that the lactose intolerant in me was forced to refuse.
Abd El Wahab is a rather interesting place. Visually, it is stunning and price-wise, there is nothing to complain about. To be paying BD2 for a salad in a restaurant of this calibre and location is not to be sniffed at. In terms of the food, it is pretty good too, though it’s worth getting some clarity on what will be included in the main courses to avoid disappointment when they arrive.With the restaurant still only just opened, it will take time for the ambience to improve. But from what we experienced, this restaurant will help etch a considerably effective dining scene in one of Bahrain’s most opulent malls.
The bill (for one)
Rocca salad BD2.200
Baba ghanoush BD2.000
Grilled hammour BD6.800
Small water BD0.400
Total (incl. tax/service) D12.500
Time Out Bahrain,
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