Brand new and sparking amongst the city skyscrapers, Ninive is Dubai’s newest Middle-East and North African inspired restaurant sat next to the infamous La Cantine du Faubourg between the iconic Emirates Towers. The first tip we will give you is assistance in finding the location. Not the easiest restaurant to find, our advice is to get dropped at the DIFC side of the building. From there, hang a right past Al Nafoorah, up the stairs et Voila, the hidden garden will appear before your eyes.
Tip two is dress code. Seeing that it’s all ‘al fresco’, you would think that a smart shirt, tailored chino shorts and loafers would be acceptable – however, according to the MD, apparently not. That being said, ripped jeans and trainers are totally fine. Advice here? Stick with long trousers and prepare to sweat it out!
After a tricky start, we finally sat at our table – the restaurant is actually gorgeous – a suspended garden in the heart of a sweltering city district, in the center of the world, yet in the middle of the desert – clever if you think about it. Ninive takes its name from ancient city of Nineveh where laid the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the only one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World that has never been found. The interiors take inspiration from this and James Michael Lees of London studio Hopscotch, architect and interior designer, has displayed a real understanding of the region, creating the ultimate contemporary meeting point, between a nomad tent and a caravanserai.
From top to toe, the restaurant pays homage to the heritage and craftsmanship of the Middle East and North Africa, all the way from the brass, wood, marble and leather items that can be found dotted amongst the plants, to their diverse and rich menu. Taking inspiration from Middle East and North Africa, with Iraqi, Egyptian and even Khaleeji elements, the menu is vast (and there isn’t a single hummus to be found) and impressive.
The Cheese Briwat, a firm favourite with parsley and walnuts are a great place to start and their version of Zaalouk (eggplant) is truly scrumptious. We also went for the Freekeh Salad with apricots, cranberries and walnuts, which was light and packed full of flavour and the Beef Fattayer which was delicious!
There was Sautéed Lamb marinated in spices and served in a casserole – apparently, each vegetable is cooked separately to preserve its distinct aroma and texture. We also enjoyed the Lobster Tagine, with ingredients including coriander, parsley, and olives – ones of Ninive’s signature dishes. Whilst the Pan Roasted Red Snapper was overcooked and slightly disappointing, the Orange Blossom Pana Cotta and Chocolate Tart ensured the evening ended on a sweet high.
The interiors are truly superb and provide a definite reason to rush back however, due to the dress code, it might not be until after summer – however we are assured that during those sweltering months a canopy and air conditioning will be added!
For reservations, please visit ninive.ae