Set inside the Manzil Downtown’s precinct, The Courtyard reminds us of medieval murals and fine architecture of Al Andalus (Muslim Spain), all greatly enhancing the ambience for a delicious Mediterranean dining experience …
Upon our arrival at the Manzil’s open air courtyard, it was like stepping inside a piece of lost history; only to be brought back to reality by The Courtyard’s majestic atmosphere of aromatic oud fragrance, classic Arabian hospitality and a wide array of food. This is quite a contrast to the rich urbanity of modern Dubai outside the Manzil with its dazzling city lights of Downtown Dubai’s main shopping and dining hub.
We could choose between sitting inside the Levantine-inspired deco Restaurant, which was the extension of The Courtyard, or we could just sit around the precinct and get the benefit of smoking a shisha, which we of course opted for to give us a holistic experience,.
As soon as we picked a spot for dining in the yard, we were served warm red tea, also known as Sulaimani in Arabic and within 5 minutes a shisha of our choice was served. Taking in our surroundings, the view of the palace of the Manzil was so breathtaking that we didn’t miss an opportunity to take pictures of the precinct and a few selfies to savour the memory.
Coming back to the menu, there was a lot to choose from. Every bit of the offering tempted us as recommended by the waiter! So taking his advice, we tried the delicious Egyptian rice and pasta concoction called Khushari, a dish made of lentils, raisins, pasta, noodles and rice with Mediterranean sauce, fried onions and salad on the side. It was delicious and absolutely the star of the evening. We enjoyed our khushari with hummus served with hot pita bread and tabouleh.
Next, we opted for baked penne in béchamel sauce with a Lebanese twist and Indian shrimp grills. Both were as exotic as they sounded. The quality of the food was evident from the fresh flavour of the meat and shrimps. The meat was tender and white, while the shrimps tasted like they were taken from the market the same day. The spices were very well blended into the food and every bite resonated with the murals around us: very exotic, fragranced and gave us a taste of the Arabian history through the wholesome blend of spices.
We sealed the evening with the restaurant’s signature Kinafeh, an Arabic dessert made of rice noodles and mozzarella cheese, and their delicious sticky cake made of traditional dates, served in warm chocolate ganache and vanilla ice cream. A fitting end to a beautiful evening!
We basked in the glory of the venue while the oud guitar played in the background…
Our verdict: A definite yes!