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Iftar of the day: Cafe Arabesque.

Iftar at the Park Hyatt's CafEa Arabesque is all about the traditional Arab Ramadan, with the courses channelling the best of mostly Levantine cuisine.

Skip the pastries and head straight for the extensive salad bar and its wide variety of dips. The muhammara is especially good, with notes of olive, and not too spicy. Also a winner is the fatoush, especially if you like your bread extra crispy - the pita pieces have been fried.

For a hearty main course, fill your plate with chicken and freekeh, a type of cracked wheat usually used as stuffing. The freekeh carries a lot of traditional Arabic flavours and makes an exciting change from your average rice dish. If your looking for something lighter, try the red snapper with chili sauce - it's not spicy, but has a nice tang that pops in your mouth.

Other main course options include lamb ouzi and chicken masakhen, but a definite must-try is the minced lamb dumplings in yogurt sauce. Soft, warm and deliciously spiced, these small bites probably don't qualify as a main course but are certainly worth filling up your plate.

Of course, no iftar would be complete without something to drink, and CafEa Arabesque delivers on seasonal Ramadan drinks, including tamarind, jellab and apricot juice, which is not quite the thick amar al deen (a drink made of apricot paste) one may be used to, but still does the trick.

CafEa Arabesque is an especially fun place for children, with live shawarma and saj stations for picky eaters, as well as a chocolate fountain. While adults gathered at dessert tables loaded with the usual suspects, including crunchy atayef (almost like small stuffed fried pancakes) and two types of aish al saraya (pastry topped with cream, nuts and fruit), the kids made a beeline for the fountain and nearby ice cream station.

Overall, the food is delicious and homey and the atmosphere is very family-friendly, with wait staff happy to attend to children. CafEa Arabesque is a great place to take your family and friends for iftar.

Call: 04 317 2222

Price: Dh180 per person including soft drinks

Don't miss: minced lamb dumplings

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Date:Jul 17, 2013
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