Sunday, August 23, 2009

Al Nafoura: a Lebanese Oasis

After craving it for a while, I finally got a chance to set foot into this exotic restaurant which has won many good reviews.

And should I say, it is indeed a gem.

The ambient is perfect and service was good. We came during the weekend when they were holding their weekly belly dancing show which, for me, was actually not that entertaining (what with all the loud noise). But I guess such entertainment is needed to attract more crowd.

Upon sitting, we were presented with complimentary appetizer: a plate of raw vegetables (tomato and cucumber slices, lettuce, carrot sticks). You can eat them as is or order some dips to go with them -they're great when eaten with hummus.

Aside from the raw veggies, we were presented with a basket of warm naan bread. These chewy and fluffy bread came in unlimited supply, so feel free to stuff yourself with it -though I'd recommend you to save room for the delectable main courses.
From the menu, we ordered some spiced lamb sausage (called metze or makanek -I can't really recall) for appetizer. We also ordered two kind of dips: baba ganoush (minced roasted eggplant with herbs, drizzled with lemon and olive oil) and hummus (chickpeas puree with olive oil and sesame paste/tahini) with minced lamb.

The mini lamb sausages are succulent. They came drizzled with sauce that was quickly mopped up with the naan bread. The baba ganoush is smooth and the hummus is soft and creamy. The minced lamb meat and pine nuts on top of the hummus added some extra depth, I spread this mixture over the naan bread to get a yummy 'sandwich'.

For the main course, my friend ordered roasted lamb with yogurt sauce and rice, while I opted for steamed fish with lemon potatoes and broad beans on the side. When the plates were put in front of us, we were a bit taken aback to see the size of the lamb. Unfortunately, it doesn't taste as good as it looks. The meat was too dry and it lacked spices, so it still has that strong pungent lamb smell. In the end, my friend couldn't finish it. The fish is very tender and soft and goes very well with the sauce, which is a mix of paprika and onions. The only inedible thing from the dish is the overly-sour lemon potato wedges.
We didn't even consider ordering dessert because we were too stuffed by the end of the meal. Aside from the lamb (which was quite a failure), I'd still say that the food at Al Nafoura is fairly good. They are delectable (again, aside from the lamb). Price wise, it's a bit on the higher tab, but mostly because we had 2 glasses of wine each -and they charged 21% for tax. But if you're careful enough to avoid the pricey drinks and make wise selections instead, this place is indeed (very) worth trying.

Al Nafoura
Le Meridien Hotel
Jl. Jend Sudirman kav 18-20
Jakarta 10220 - Indonesia
P +62(21) 2513131
F +62(21) 5711633

P.S. Pardon the lousy dark and blurry pictures. Lights were (very) minimum there so I had trouble taking proper ones. And I don't like to use flash. Hehehehe...

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