Bookings: 04 602 1234
Lunch at the Park Hyatt’s Café Arabesque, which is effectively the coffee shop in this ‘boutique’ high end Hyatt property, is a light and airy affair. The Park Hyatt is, in any case, a light and airy hotel: a studied uber-funky pile, this aptly named restaurant is the Park's most Arab outlet and is decorated in Islamic patterned, pearlescent white, with large creek facing windows looking out, across the pergolas, white walls and blue domes that make the Park Hyatt feel so very, well,
So there are no club sandwiches on offer at Café Arabesque, which mixes buffet and á la carte, offering three nationally themed mezze stations (Syrian, Jordanian and Lebanese) and then, from the menu a range of hot mezze and main courses, with a trip back to a buffet of Arab sweets, desserts such as kneffe, Lebanese sweets (heaps of nuts, filo, butter and honey) and fresh fruits served on ice. Frankly, most lunches I’ve had here have started and ended with the mezze which, at around $15, has to be the best value, fastest and most delicious business lunch in
The meal starts with a selection of nibbles brought to the table, a bowl of beans (‘termous’) another of soaked almonds and a bowl of mixed salad: all a little more refined than the ‘traditional’ offering of everything in the garden piled around a whole cos lettuce. We ordered simply a Lebanese Shish Taouk (there are two taouks on the menu, a ‘Lebanese’ taouk marinated in yoghurt and a ‘Jordanian’ one without. That distinction alone will cause a huge punchup if you’re dining in the right company, let alone the comparisons between the three mezze tables. Who does make the best tabbouleh? Just light the blue touch paper and stand back!) and then hit the cold mezze.
It’s a magnificent selection which reverses the way things are normally done in the Arab world, where the mezze is brought to the table and laid out in front of you (there are restaurants in
So by the time the Shish Taouk comes, we’ve over done it. Which is awful, because the chicken is grilled to perfection; hot, fragrant but subtly flavoured with a hint of garlic and a soft moist texture: it melts in the mouth and we both keep eating well beyond satiety. The desserts look excellent but we’ve gone too far: just enough room for coffee and that’s good, too.
A great meal: one of those meals where you pass stuff across the table on your fork because your partner has just got to try that. And there’s scant praise higher than that…