Dubai has been in the grip of a Greek food fever since the end of 2018, with a slew of Hellenic (and -inspired) eateries opening up all over town.
Among them, and located in the city’s tourist heartlands, is Taverna, occupying the Souk Madinat Jumeirah plot that previously housed Left Bank.
It is, most certainly, an improvement.
Outdoor tables are spread out across prime real estate on the edge of the complex’s waterways, while indoors it’s a cooling blend of light, earthy tones and stone, and bow-backed spindle chairs.
Service is swift and staff enquire how guests prefer their food brought to the table (hurrah). We over-order, safe in the knowledge that dishes won’t arrive all at once on a tidal wave of tzatziki.
Speaking of which, you should absolutely start with a bowl of the stuff. Top marks.
Elsewhere on the very comprehensive, but by no means overwhelming, menu the spinach pie salad is superb. Packed with baby leaves and finely chopped dill, tossed in crumbled feta and garnished with a couple of neat filo squares, it’s a light, fresh and utterly welcome riff on the classic.
So far, so transporting to the Med. But this journey’s about to hit turbulence.
Fried calamari, so industrially elastic it could be used for minor physiotherapy, returns to the kitchen. Chargrilled octopus, on the other hand, is so tender you could almost spread it on toast.
Chicken souvlaki is next to elbow its way onto the table, skewer warming over a gradually cooling charcoal grill. It looks the part, and smells it even more, but the texture of the thigh meat is more than a touch too gelatinous.
A board of tiger prawns (yes, we really did over-order), plump and perfectly cooked, brings the balance back and steadies the ship.
Seemingly to make up for the ill-fated rubbery rings of courses past, we’re presented with a complimentary dessert.
Lovely though these syrupy orange cakes are (and the vanilla ice cream, oh that ice cream), it turns out they’re not quite on the house. When we double check the bill later, we realise we’ve actually paid Dhs35 for them.
Worth it? Absolutely. Will we be back? Probably. And continue to order with the same total lack of restraint? They only need to gyros half the chance…
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