I’ve been using this season to build my Arabic food street cred. In my last review, I wrote my ode to the lamb brain salad, which I now look for at every iftar buffet. So, from now on, it’s no longer an iftar if it ain’t got a lamb brain salad.

The InterContinental Dubai Festival City’s Anise restaurant passes that test with flying colours. Because not only does it have a really creamy and rich version of my new favourite cold starter, it does such a good job of camouflaging it that my dining companions happily ate some and enjoyed it. They made faces once they were told what it was, but hey, they liked it. So I stand vindicated.

Another interesting item I tried among the cold starters (because mains are so yesterday), was the fwerigh, the Lebanese sausage, which is basically sheep intestines stuffed with rice, minced meat and spices. Chewy and meaty, the accompanying garlic lemon sauce was likely to dull the pungency but I liked it without that.

For the less adventurous lot, Anise, named after the star anise spice, comes with eight live cooking stations (like the eight points of the star). This means, like every year, there’s a mix of cuisines. Something for everyone.

From the Arabic grill selection to Indian curries to East Asian fare, it’s all there. Don’t miss the chicken liver served with grenadine molasses; the lamb fatteh, a combination of garlic yoghurt, chickpeas, lamb and nuts served on a bed of vermicelli rice; and the baked chicken.

Another iftar must-have is the classic umm ali. But there’s a particular consistency that I like. It’s hard to describe but let’s just say you shouldn’t have to paddle through it with your spoon. This one at Anise, I like.

The buffet spread is extensive and staff are attentive. All in all, iftar at Anise is totally worth your dirham. For suhour, the Skyline Ramadan tent in the adjacent Crowne Plaza Dubai Festival City is a good place to go.


The details

Where: Anise, InterContinental Dubai Festival City

Timings: Sunset to 10pm

Price: Dh215 inclusive of juices and soft beverages (Dh105 for kids between 6-12)

Call: 04-7011127 or 28