Arabic cuisine Bangalore restaurant reviews


Wednesday, January 08, 2014Me! In words

This post is actually long due and was a blogger's table that we had in the month of December. Shebestan, if memory of that evening serves right means "underground palace" and without doubt, the restaurant is set up just as one would imagine Aladdin and Jasmine's palace - there an overwhelming number of lampshades of myriad colors, deep set ornate frames with Arabian artifacts, an extraordinary number of two-seater tables, sliding doors, deep set sofas and even an image of the Sacred Heart. The staff were dressed in harem pants, short jackets, round top hats with tassels. Once you sit down in the deep set sofas surrounded by bolsters you can't help but breathe out heavily from the sights you have just walked through. I half expected the tour to wind up with Aladdin, Jasmine and Abu riding in on the magic carpet. The decor while exquisite, was over-the-top for my senses. But while you are waiting for your food to arrive, you will never run short of things to look at in your line of vision. 

Just one of the ornate light settings in Shebestan

Shebestan with the traditional platter which a family or a large party collectively eats from

Kahwa or the Arabic coffee was poured out in ornate shot glasses and served with dates. Quite the acquired taste. Its best to take a bite of the date and then sip on the coffee

We left the dinner menu entirely up to the chef who has been brought in from Saudi Arabia. While we waited a large platter of vegetable sticks with a dip was brought to the table. As with the decor, the size of the finger food, that the platter was meant to be, was a little to much to handle nevertheless the freshness could not be faulted. 

Fresh yeasty and divine pita bread made its steady way to the table. These could be eaten by the dozen with nothing at all. There were several accompaniments that came though and it was the perfect means to dig in

The drinks were again left to the bartender with a majority of us opting for vodka based drinks. The orange based one was by far the best that came to the table with others being nothing more to talk about 

The hummus served was divine as was the mutabbal below. It took a lot of restraint not to ask for multiple bowls and stash them away in our handbags. 

The salad with haloumi and baby tomatoes with a dash of zattar and a vinaigrette dressing was a refreshing touch to the meal

Falafel has never really caught my fascination, though this one did taste great

The spinach fatayers, not in the traditional triangular, pinched edges shape were delicious

This was a kebab, the name of which eludes me - served on pita bread that had a generous slathering of roasted tomatoes and arabic spices. 

The koobideh, another kebab version, more on the Persian side was excellent too. The chefs at Shebestan know how to treat their meats perfectly

This was a toasted garlic dip that was absolutely divine with just about any of the meat dishes that came to the table

Lamb chops

The lamb (above) and Dajaj or chicken kabsa (below). By now were stuffed to the gills and once the photos were done, barely had a teaspoon of each platter. The rice was moist, the flavor of the meat well infused into the dish and overall very wholesome and filling

A large selection of desserts came to the table and as is typical with Arabic sweets were heavy on the sugar, sugar syrup and dry nuts. I tasted a bit of each of them but with the tummy being overwhelmed would be hard pressed to pick a winner. 

And just in case the food was not enough, a complimentary platter of fruits also makes it to the table. There... didn't I tell you that you will get the feeling of being in Aladdin's palace

The food at Shebestan is truly good. The pricing, as we saw from the menu is on the steepest side of "very expensive". A meal for two will easily set you back Rs 3500 + taxes. The restaurant is definitely an experience for the senses and is worth a visit. 

Address: Matthan, Sterling Mac's Hotel, #134 HAL Airport road, Near Manipal Hospital
Phone: 080-42494949
Cuisine: Arabic
Cards Accepted: Yes
Wallet factor: Rs 3000 for two on average 
Parking: Valet

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