It has been three years since Nosa and Folly gifted Arabesque with the Larry David smile (read the original piece HERE), so I decided to visit and stuff my face over the weekend. Being the nuisance that I am and excited by their decent pricing, I ordered something off almost every page on the menu. In retrospect, I clearly underestimated Folly’s comment on how the table was always full when they were there.
So, on to it! I didn’t get to experience the complimentary platter and coal contraption Nosa and Folly had so I dove straight in with the Hoummos Shawarma - which I loved!
Fun fact: The “Shawarma” in the dish’s name referred to the chicken strips that sat pretty in the hummus, and shawarma generally refers to kebab meats, not the full wraps we call shawarma.
As a big fan of chickpeas (especially in Chickpea Moi Deaux, or ‘Moi Moi’ as you people call it) and sesame seeds (which are ground to make the tahini in hummus), I’m usually so distracted by the hummus taste that I disregard all other details but not this time! The texture and consistency were just right, and it all went really well with the chicken strips.
I know hummus feels like one of those dishes you can’t really screw up or critique (like mashed potatoes or boiled yam) but the Arabesque Hoummos Shawarma is decent.
Side note: I went back during the week with Christina but the hummus had tribal marks and the chicken strips were tinier. Consistency, where are you?
The next two things I ordered were the Calamari Mekleh and Batata Harra. I really say the ‘Mekleh’ like there’s phlegm in my mouth, for some odd reason
Anyway, quite the “na me f* up” moment after tasting the calamari, because I think I might be the only person in the history of restaurant-goers that has ever ordered calamari at a Middle Eastern restaurant. The Shish Taouks, the Shawarmas, the Manakeeshes and more of the top Middle Eastern dishes are all made from beef or chicken, so why did I order seafood?
I don’t know.
The calamari rings were a bit tough and bland, and the batter wasn’t the best – but that might just be the M-E way, I guess.
Moving on. After many “sorry sir, we don’t have that right now” comments by the waiter when we requested for fries, the Batata Harra potatoes were served and were really good. Spiced with coriander and garlic (but not the chilli the menu promised), these lightly fried diced potatoes were… it. Loved that they weren’t oily or too hard. Good stuff.
The fourth and fifth orders that came were the Meshwe Samak and Mixed Grill. The Meshwe Samak was a grilled fillet of sea bass marinated in herbs, garlic and olive oil. The fish was moist (I hate this word), well grilled, seasoned beyond the outer layer and, wait for it, WASN’T TOO SPICY. Thank God! I’m yet to taste the pepper fish at Farm City, which everyone raves about as “Lagos’ best”, but I believe this makes a good substitute for us that aren’t fans of overly spicy food.
The last serving of the evening but not the least, was the infamous Mixed Grill – no sophisticated Middle Eastern name for it... just ‘Mixed Grill’. Shame.
Well, the presentation for this has changed since Nosa and Folly’s review, but guess what Arabesque has kept consistent – the blandness! My fave of the three kebabs was the shish taouk (chicken) because it seemed to be the only one that had a hint of seasoning.
A Wonder Woman-like ending to a nice evening… sigh.
Overall, I wasn’t blown away or disappointed; I quite enjoyed the experience, ate a lot, didn’t feel like I gained much weight because everything seemed pretty healthy-ish and I’ll definitely visit again… with my own spices.
Also, three out of five dishes were decent so that’s like 60% - I guess they passed the pass mark.
Hoummos Shawarma - 3300
Calamari Mekleh - 2900
Batata Harra - 2300
Meshwe Samak - 5800
Mixed Grill - 5800
Decent parking on the road outside.
8 - 12 cars