There’s only so many Indian iftars you can eat before tiring of biryanis and butter chicken. Enter Farzi Café, with smoke and mirrors, literally, and every culinary technique possible to create a magical meal in an enchanting golden setting. Illusion being the key word here (Farzi is derived from the Urdu word for illusion) everything’s a sleight of hand at this relaxed Indian restaurant, right from the diamond lights on the walls to the barely-there screens and impeccable plating.
However, there’s nothing illusory about the lingering flavours of the iftar menu chock-full of molecular gastronomical delights, mixing Indian and Arabian cuisine. Expect dates’ shots that appear in a mist of liquid nitrogen, braised lamb chops with a maple kokum glaze and micro popcorn (world’s tiniest popcorn), keema ghotala, pearl barley hareesa, pan-seared beef chunks with hummus and warm cheesy kunafa suji halwa cake and saffron and pistachio ice cream. A fairy-tale feast. Dh125 per person. Call 04 394 2556 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The thing we like most about in-mall restaurants are their proximity to stores full of stellar Ramadan offers and sales for those fast-tracking their Eid shopping. Taking the cake in that category is Aubaine – an exuberantly elegant French café from London just launched this January in The Dubai Mall. A shabby-chic haven of dove-grey counters and graceful round-backed chairs, here you could easily be in a Parisian café in Mayfair.
With a three-course set menu that’s as stylish as the venue, iftar here is a modish affair with a regional essence – nibble on fattoush with pomegranate, and harira soup, while mains of roasted monkfish with saffron risotto or lamb shank with zaatar make you go ooh la la. But what’s a French meal without a dessert a la mode? True to form sticky toffee pudding with vanilla ice cream and dates is the sweet finale. Dh149 per person, sunset to 2am. Call 04 501 6970.
There is a joie de vivre to iftars in the lively streets of Beirut that nothing can imitate. Or so we thought, until the iconic Lebanese restaurant Al Falamanki set up shop in Dubai earlier this month. Channelling the charm of the Paris of the East in the 1960s, it has a distinctly Lebanese iftar menu that is a foray into the history of the country’s cuisine. Share appetisers like hashed chicken, sumac potatoes, cheese rolls, and fried kibbeh and specialty mains such as ‘My mother Souad’s Fattoush’, ‘Khalil’s Saj’ (thyme topped with a cheese mix by Khalil, a renowned food producer from Hrajel) and kbaibet in yogurt (fried kibbeh balls in garlic, pine nuts and coriander). If that doesn’t send shawarmas packing from your mind we don’t know what will! Dh150 per person from sunset to 3am. Call 04 3435 826.
Cocktail Kitchen is JLT’s newest hotspot, located at the bottom of Armada Bluebay Hotel. The exterior gives nothing away, but as soon as you step in, the bleached wooded panels and sleek modern interiors evoke the feeling that you have travelled to a European city. The three-course set iftar menu consolidates that aura of refinement with starters like chilled watermelon and zucchini minestrone, grilled squid with baby potatoes, smoked duck salad, spinach and feta calzoncino. The mains take an even more sumptuous turn with roasted chicken supreme, lamb scaloppine with root veggies and sweet potato crisps, sea bass roulade, and lasagne quattro formaggi, covering the best of vegetarian, and surf ‘n’ turf options.
The mostly Mediterranean dishes are designed for sharing, and presented like pieces of art by head chef Javier Birman. Cocktail Kitchen’s aim is to make you feel at home at your local hangout, making it the ideal venue to end the fast with your friends and family. From Dh145 per person, 7.30-8.30pm. Call 056 828 0727 or email Hello@cocktail-kitchen.com.
Sho Cho, Souk Qaryat Al Beri, Abu Dhabi
For iftar this year, why not think inside the box and tuck into Sho Cho’s bento boxes – packed meals with perfect portions? The futuristic-looking Japanese restaurant, decked in white leather seats and blue lights, exudes the futurism of Tokyo. It’s not just the city’s architectural genius that the hip restaurant adopts, but the Japanese capital’s gourmet virtuoso as well (it has the most Michelin-star restaurants), all of which is reflected in sleek boxes. Options include chicken katsu bento, vegetarian bento and grilled chicken bento. Presented appetisingly in little compartments, you’ll find authentic sushi, miso soup, a main dish of your choice with curry, pickle and date mocha ice cream in one place. That, coupled with stunning views of the Shaikh Zayed Grand Mosque drenched in colours of the setting sun makes for perfection. Dh89-Dh115 from sunset to 8.30pm. Call 055 81117 or email email@example.com.
La Serre Bistro and Boulangerie
There are few things gentler on empty stomachs than brekkie, and La Serre, the classy glass-fronted bistro knows that. Iftars get a breakfast makeover here this month with the Late Night Breakfast menu. There are also family-style platters available as part of the night-time menu that will whip up six to nine of the same dishes in a rustic copper pans to share and care over. Choose nourishing nosh from the à la carte menu that includes eggs Benedict with smoked salmon or Wagyu beef and asparagus drizzled with hollandaise sauce, mushroom omelette, oeuf à la coque (boiled eggs) and pain perdu (French toast), each of which is as soothing as the tasteful cream interiors of this très chic venue. Time to end you fast like a king! From 6-10:30pm. Call 04 428 6969 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The best of east and west meld in the southern-Spanish province of Andalusia, and that enigmatic vibe, which the region’s Moorish architecture, sun-baked vistas and passionate culture exude, finds its way to the iftar menu at Andalusia Dubai. Serving Seville’s scintillating cuisine, the buffet unleashes Arabian meze hits such as fattoush, lamb and chicken tagines, all of which fit in deliciously alongside dishes of cheese rolls, empanadas paellas, and the six-hour lamb. Sat in a Moroccan-inspired décor complementing the Moorish cuisine, the ambience is enhanced by the presence of traditional Turkish coffee servers and the soulful music of a live Oud player. The trail of tempting food hits a peak at the dessert counter peppered with traditional Ramadan sweets and modern desserts. Want to know what they are? Ándale to Andalusia! From Dh125 per person inclusive of beverages, from sunset until 3am. Call 056 509 0189.
Iftar meals with family are the time to overindulge and Ting Irie’s all-you-can-eat menu is perfect to bond with friends and relatives. The Caribbean retreat for gourmands features bright Rastafarian pop-art, resort-esque wooden seating and serene tropical prints that add to the holiday feeling when the rocking food from Jamrock kicks off. Work your way backwards from the dessert delights of carnival funnel cake (Madagascar vanilla cream with strawberry sorrel compote and caramelised white chocolate sauce) and crunky monkey (dark chocolate tart served with ice cream, crispy cereal and caramelised banana), because when you’ve gorged on pulled oxtail cocobread sandwiches with coleslaw, beef burger with pimento cheese, spitfiyyah jerk chicken (rotisserie-roasted chicken served with Jamaican coleslaw and mango salsa) and Jamaican curry goat with pak choi and sides of coconut rice, grandma’s potato salad, rice and peas, there just might be no room for sweets. Call 04 557 5601 or email email@example.com.
Obscured by the UAE’s many modern achievements, the oldest and little-known jewel on the nation’s crown – its cuisine – has been polished to a delicious fine dining gleam at Emirati restaurant Seven Sands in JBR. Within plush interiors of elegant screens and glamorous furniture in dull gold, sample mouthfuls of culture and history in every dish at the iftar buffet, where local delicacies abound. From qamar al din and jallab, to starters of maleh fish salad served on a bed of mangoes, chicken margougah, lamb ouzi rigag and more and a dessert safari of creamy aseeda bobar (sweet pumpkin purée stacks infused with cardamom and saffron) and the signature Seven Sands date pudding, these authentic flavours remain untouched by the sands of time. Dh145 per person, 50 per cent off for children aged six to 12 years, and under six dine for free. Visit www.sevensandsrestaurant.com.
If you thought this beachfront Dubai outpost of the famous Montreal-based café chain is only serving eggs six ways for iftar, you’re completely wrong. The ending of fast at this retro eatery starts with a cracking good set menu of quinoa tabbouleh or mixed green salad appetisers, soup of the day, and a choice of a quinoa paella of chicken and seafood, or juicy beef stroganoff with jewelled rice, or succulent chicken supreme with rosemary-infused rice for mains. After all that if you still have space to spare allow dreamy confections like s’mores mini pancakes or chocolate French toast to whisper sweet nothings to your taste buds as you gaze at seaside sunsets outside. It’s an eggceptional experience! From 6pm-3am at Dh80 per person. Call 04 430 7252.