In a nutshell:
A tiny but masterfully done ‘hole in the wall’ Full service Restaurant that serves ‘just OK to good’ Arabic food at a moderate price.
Address & Other details: Arabica
Meal for 2: Rs 250 onwards
Cuisine Type: Vegetarian & Nonvegetarian
Short Description – In case u r in a hurry:
At the entrance to this super tiny restaurant, is an Industrial Shawarma machine from where customers choosing ‘takeaway’ option can buy their food. There is only one machine & it being Gurgaon, the only meat on roast is chicken.
As we entered the Restaurant on a hot summer day, we were welcomed by the chilled air-conditioning inside & also by a warm welcome smile by the lone server at the place. The seating capacity at this place was looked to be approx. 15. The furniture was all made of pristine white colored cane, beautiful ‘Arabic – look’ pictures adorned the walls & interesting things e.g. traditional hookahs, jars, vessels, traditional lampshades added to the beautiful decor.
The walls were made to look like those inside typical dwellings in the Desert – as if roughly coated with mud & painted white. Little boxy shelves were also made on the wall – exactly the way u see in those desert dwellings.
I must say that the owners of this Restaurant had come across a superb interior decorator / designer who optimized this tiny space into a ‘wow’ ambience Restaurant.
However, I only wish they cud hire a chef of such High Calibre.
Detailed Description – In case u have the time to njoy reading:
The menu card was excessively chicken heavy (non-veg section). Mutton options were super limited. Chicken was all over the place & there were lots of good options for vegetarians.
We thought of starting off with a nonveg Lebanese platter & then thought of trying a chicken shawarma.
The platter was served in a very nice way. Good presentation. There were 3 items in the platter. A fish kabab called Samak Meshwi, a chicken kabab called Shish Taouk & a lamb sheekh kabab. This was accompanied with Labneh – a yoghurt (dahi) based dip, hummus & Tabouleh – An arabian salad with minutely cut (almost minced) veggies, parsley & mint. Very thin pita breads were also served separately.
So we had the option of eating the kababs as it is, with the dips, or with the pita bread or assemble all these like a roll & have it. We tried various permutations & combinations.
The fish kabab was good – tasty, soft & flavorful but not juicy / supersoft.
The mutton sheekh kabab was again quite tasty, spicy, flavorful but not soft & almost dry.
The chicken kabab was horrible. It was made with ‘over refrigerated’ chicken. The chicken used for this were smelling of unfreshness with every bite.
The pita bread was so thin that it started becoming rubbery after 2 minutes of being served. That cud have been avoided.
The dips were too bland, too smooth & quite tasteless. U might like it as it is but if u have had the real thing, u wud not take a second to gauge the difference. Even a homemade hummus tastes much better than this.
This spoiled our mood & we actually cancelled our Chicken shawarma order after placing it – in case that is also bad. Actually I cud not gather the courage to eat it after the disasterous experience with the chicken in the platter. To add to the decision was the fact that one cannot order 1 shawarma (called Doner Kabab here) – 2 of these come in a plate & one has to order a plate. I surely did not want to try my luck with two.
A friend of mine however had chicken shawarma here earlier & he found it to be good. So I revisited a month later to try it out.
The shawarma had generous amount of chicken, a flowing liquid sauce that had little character of its own & onions & tomatoes. It was surely good but not great. It certainly did not leave a mark.
Overall: A great place to hang out with small group of friends / go for a date in case none of them (the friends or the date) are foodies coz Inspite of great ambience & great service, foodies tend to get frustrated at average / bad food & that spoils their mood for the evening.
In terms of sheer taste, Zaitoon is much better. Flavors of Arabia is also shades better than Arabica.