While many of its neighbours across Dubai’s busiest street are a lesson in interior design, Tal Al Amar has an unfussy feel that could be described as a little lived in here and there, but makes it homely and comfortable.
It is a big restaurant and while the lights are bright – slightly to the detriment of fully appreciating the skyline views beyond the window once night has arrived - it does allow guests to focus on the fine work of the kitchen.
And as dishes begin to arrive, it is clear presentation is valued alongside taste.
From simple aspects such as the hummus and fattoush, there’s a visual appeal that is balanced by taste. The former was rich with just the right hit of garlic, the latter colourful and crunchy and doused in a pomegranate vinaigrette that gave it a clean, fresh result.
Now, chicken livers are not high on this writer’s list of favourite edibles, but Tal Al Amar’s chef does them in a way that almost won me over, the pomegranate sauce lending a flavour that distracts slightly from the unique texture, but complimented the little brown nuggets.
Hendbeh was a new experience for these tastebuds; the olive oil-imbibed dandelion leaves were a bright addition to the table and a good source of vitamins. The taste is distinctive, but it was in good company with our other selections.
There’s a decent line-up of kebab options, as you might expect, but Kebab Khishkhash was the winning dish on this side of the table.
The slender portions of reconstituted minced beef were well cooked, the moistness retained and added to by a zesty tomato sauce and parsley that made this a moreish platter. And at 40AED Tal Al Amar charges about you would pay at a street level café.
Also filling the table, Hammour Tikka Grill gathered generous bite-size chunks amid a colourful garnish; al dente carrots and asparagus adding interest to nicely cooked, gently flavoured portions of white fish.
Giving these other mains a run for their presentation, the Grilled Prawns drew the eye and retained the attention with a texture that was firm and lacking that mushiness that some kitchens seem to struggle to lose when handling the shellfish.
That said, if the belly would have allowed it, we reckon this kitchen would have turned out a decent Cheese Kounafa. Other Arabic sweets seeking your approval include the milky dishes Mohalabiya and Kashtaliah and the indulgent, calorific Osmaliah.
And if you want to round that lot off with a bit of relaxation, the Turkish-themed rooftop shish lounge awaits one more storey up.
Get the right spot and you really do get a view to remember.
FIND Tal Al Amar on he 42nd floor of Emirates Grand Hotel, Sheikh Zayed Road.
FOR reservations call 044535452 or visit www.emiratesgrandhotel.com