Much to our delight, one of our favorite Beirut eateries, Leila Restaurant recently opened a Dubai branch, in Mirdif City Centre.

The restaurant is originally named after a girl called Leila who used to watch her grandmother cook and eventually learned all the traditional Lebanese dishes, and opened her own namesake restaurant.

Today, Leila is a beautiful and relaxing eatery, a mix of old and new, with warm colors and photos scattered around the walls.With an airy interior, luxe upholstery, signature rose motif on the cutlery and kitschy accessories, the Dubai branch is identical to its Beirut counterpart.

Excited to be there, we were quick to order a range of cold mezze.  The service is efficient with the hot bread and flavorful green olives served right as we were seated, and kept us going until our food arrived.

We started with the Spiced Kibbeh. Perfectly shaped, they oozed out a delicious red paste of spiced and tender meat. Delicious and filling, they were definitely a favorite.

The Armenian dish Manti also caught our attention; kofta style dumplings mixed in a red herb sauce, served with dollops of fresh local yogurt.  The dish was refreshing and tasty, ideal for a hot summer day.

No meal is really complete without a classic Fattoush salad, and with two options of the same salad, we decided to save a few calories and order the Leila Healthy Fattoush. Personally we couldn’t tell the difference because it was exactly what our taste buds expected, fresh, crunchy and slightly tart from the lemon dressing.

For our main course, we chose the Kebab Platter; always a safe bet that did not disappoint.  The side of grilled vegetables and potatoes were the ideal accompaniment to the perfectly cooked meat.

In an effort to stay healthy, we picked the Leila Light Chicken as our second entree. Tender pieces of chicken flavored with a mustard dressing and served on a bed of rocca, grilled aubergine and a few potatoes. Surprisingly, despite being significantly low on calories it was flavorful and enjoyable.

Leila adds a modern flavor to authentic Arabic dishes and we personally love that the menu has been tailored to be healthy while remaining true to its origins.

Leila Restaurant's flagship branch is located in Mirdif City Centre, Dubai, UAE.

– Saira Malik

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