Time Out Says
The décor is cute, tables have pretty painted tiles and there is, inexplicably, a fountain in the middle of the dining room, while the tablewear is functional rather than fancy. But this is all largely secondary to the basic but excellent food that is dished up with speed.
The menu at Hatam can be divided quite cleanly into starters, grills of the meat and fish variety and stews – with a few desserts thrown in for good measure.
The starters will be familiar to fans of Lebanese food but, being Iranian, are different enough to be worth a try. We ordered the mast o masir, yoghurt with shallots, and the fatoosh salad. The sour yoghurt is given a depth and almost a hint of sweetness by the fresh shallots that are very finely chopped up and mixed in. It’s a very nice variety of the standard lebneh and is particularly fine when scooped up with the amazing freshly baked flatbread that is served quickly after being seated, along with a plate of bitter leaves, an incredible soft white cheese and pickles. The salad is also a nice take – all the usual ingredients are there; cucumber, tomato, lettuce, pomegranate syrup, but there is no sumac (the sour red spice) and much less lemon juice, resulting in a less sour and drier salad.
For mains we tried to order one of the stews but were told, at 8pm, that none of them were available for some reason. With disappointment weighing heavily, we had no choice but to go for a couple of grills.
Wanting to mix things up a bit we ordered a minced lamb kebab and the yoghurt chicken kebab. The grills come with either rice or fries and we asked for one of each.
The minced lamb kebab tasted fantastic, the meat delicately but deliciously spiced and grilled just enough to be tender without drying out. Although this kebab hovered right on the verge of being unpleasantly oily thankfully it didn’t take that final step. The portion of fries that it was served with was on the stingy side and the fries themselves were disappointing, so we recommend sticking with rice.
When the yoghurt kebab first arrived it was actually a minced chicken kebab, so we had to send it back, but thankfully it was a short wait before the right dish came out. Chunks of chicken were marinated in yoghurt and black pepper before being grilled to a sumptuous and juicy morsel. It is a firm favourite and we struggled not to attack the plate in a less-than decorous manner.
On the night we visited, the presentation of both dishes was somewhat lacklustre – the plates consisted of the meat and the starch of choice, there was no hint of a garnish, whether herbs or grilled vegetables.
The bill (for two)
Mast o masir Dhs14
Lamb minced kebab Dhs42
Yoghurt chicken kebab Dhs45
Total (excluding service) Dhs117
By Time Out Abu Dhabi staff | 05 Mar 2013
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