A beautiful dining room, magnificent views, impeccable service and Lebanese food to die for. Just a few of the things you can expect from Sambusek. The restaurant is located inside the stunning Rosewood Abu Dhabi and it isn’t just the perfect hotel restaurant, but the best refined Lebanese restaurant in Abu Dhabi. The food may be casual, but the setting is anything but.
We chose to sit on the terrace during the evening and so I must apologies for my photos because it was absolutely pitch black by the time we’d ordered, except for a tiny electronic candle. Perfect for our dinner setting, looking out across the tranquil waters – just not so perfect for my camera. Our Lebanese journey started with a classic hummus. But this wasn’t just any hummus – it was smoked hummus. A revelation if you ask me. That lingering smokiness ran through the smooth paste like silk. It’s their speciality, serving over eight different versions.
We also enjoyed a very lovely (and large) bowl of perfectly constructed baba ghanouj with a tomato puree centre and by far the biggest meze sized bowl of tabbouleh I’ve come across. My photo really doesn’t show just how generous it was and how fresh it tasted.
From the hot mezze selection we ordered two of my favourites. Some gorgeous makanek lamb sausages with lemon and pomegranate sauce, as well as some chunky plump prawns in a garlic and coriander Provencal style marinade. Both went perfectly with our leftover tabbouleh too.
Believe it or not, all that food we’d just consumed was just our starters. Portions here at Sambusek are huge so approach with caution when ordering! When it comes to cooking meat, the kitchen here are masters of it. Nothing is ever overcooked and always packed with flavour – cooked over a charcoal grill. Kofta al rayiss was made up of succulent minced lamb, akawi cheese and pistachio. Equally as good was the grilled baby chicken which came highly recommended by our waitress and it didn’t disappoint. Succulent, smokey and again generous in size.
For dessert we decided to try something I’d never heard of before – halwa bill jebneh. It was nothing like I was expecting and quite honestly I’m not sure if I was overly convinced – but happy to say I’d experienced it. A sort of stuffed sweet cheese, topped with pistachios and a sprinkling of fresh fruits.
We had such a lovely time at Sambusek and I’m glad we got to experience a more traditional side of Middle Eastern dining during our trip. It’s not about artfully presented food or confusing ingredients but traditional favourites (and new ones) made with love and care. All while looking out across the waters of Abu Dhabi enjoying a shisha or two. I can’t wait to return next time I’m in the UAE.