There’s something about food that makes it better when shared. Think about it, when was the last time you dug into a dish without imploring the person sat next you to try a bite? [Warning: said person must be a friend or relative, strangers don’t take too kindly to being force-fed off your plate!] That’s why restaurants with menus designed to be shared are always the most fun to go to in a group of sorts. But if you’re a solo diner or non-sharer, don’t fret – you can join in the excitement by simply sharing photos of your food and gloating, we’ve all done it! So when we made our way to Meem Café at the Jaber Al-Ahmad Cultural Centre, we gathered the troops to try as much food as we possibly can! Sharing is caring after all.
A classic destination, Meem Café has recently gone through an overhaul under their new head chef, Chef Khaled Al-Baker and the new menu is absolutely exquisite! The sharing platters, all day breakfast choices, mains and their infamous manakeesh are just some of their incredible offerings, and will leave you feeling light after a happy indulgent session. And with their new location at the Jaber Al-Ahmad Cultural Centre, we got to enjoy the dancing fountains as we looked over the menu. Not knowing where to start, as it all sounded so good, we let Chef Khaled be our guide. We just sat back, and enjoyed the fountain as we gleefully ooh-ed and ah-ed at the food that was about to make its way to our table.
We kicked off our meal with some cold beverages – the Meem Mojito and the Sparkling Rose. The lemon and mint flavors in the Mojito were delightful and the Sparkling Rose was refreshingly pink and sparkly. As we sipped on our drinks the Freekeh Balls, Lebanese Nachos and Meem Tray made their way to our table. Middle Eastern fusion at its finest! We were intrigued not only by the names of the dishes in front of us, but also by the flavors of the dishes and their components. Upon further inspection [read as we devoured], the Freekeh Balls are Chef Khaled’s answer to Arancini Balls! Fried to present a crispy exterior, this modern presentation of classic fluffy freekeh, formed into balls, is stuffed with mozzarella and served with a warm roasted red pepper sauce – divine!
As for the Lebanese Nachos, they were every bit as delicious as the name implies. Creating a deconstructed shawarma, the dish consisted of freshly chopped veggies mixed with chicken, pine nuts and feta cheese served with oven-baked, crisp pita chips! A chips and dip scenario, the flavors of this dish were familiar and complex all at once. Next came the Meem Tray – a must-order for any group, if you ask us. With Hummus, Tabbouleh, Warak Enab (stuffed vine leaves), Falafel and Cheese Rolls, you can never go wrong. The hummus was airy and fluffy while the tabbouleh lent a fresh crunch to our meal. As for the warak enab and the falafel, they were well- spiced and beautifully presented. The cheese rolls on the other hand were fried to a crisp and the seasoned cheese oozed out with every bite.
While we tucked into the appetizers, the Falafel Manakeesh in all its colorful glory made its way to us. Baked to perfection, the falafel was crumbled on top of the dough with bright pickled turnips, parsley and finished with a tahini sauce to tie it all together. Needless to say we were elated by how light each bite was. To accompany our entire meal, we got a serving of Zaatar Fries. Revolutionizing the face of fries everywhere, Chef Khaled wanted to create a side dish that would please every palate, and the Zaatar Fries were born. And revolutionary they are, the fries are coated in zaatar, sumac and olive oil then topped with Parmesan cheese. Believe us, these are not to be missed!
Happily munching away at our fries, we also sampled a Beetroot and Spinach Salad. The welcomed sweetness of the beetroot and tang from the baby spinach acted as a palate cleanser. The salad came topped with feta cheese and pistachios before being tossed in a zaatar vinaigrette giving it an extra oomph. Every bite was fresh and enjoyable as we waited for our main, and it was totally worth the wait. We got the Kebbet Hamees and it was the best way to end our savory portion of the meal. The meat kebbe is prepared with a sweet hamees sauce that consisted of onions and raisins in a chicken jus. Served with a side of couscous, you take a kebbe (or three) with some of the hamees, mix and tuck in. Delicious!
Once done, we ordered a cup of tea and waited patiently for our desserts. Because the desserts looked truly enticing, we couldn’t pick just one. So naturally, we ended up with two: A Basboosa Cake and Om Ali. A milk croissant pudding topped with vanilla ice cream, rose petals and pistachio powder, the Om Ali arrived bubbling hot and every bite was delectable and moreish. As for the Basboosa Cake, it was lightly sweetened, as the classic semolina cake is topped with a cream sauce that complemented the flavors of the cake.
Feeling full but still able to move, we enjoyed the last dancing fountains show that was artfully synced to the melodies of Andrea Bocelli’s “Time to say Goodbye” right before we left, as we sipped on the remainder of our mint tea.
You can follow Chef Khaled Al Baker on Instagram @ChefKB for fun food images. For more information, follow Meem Café on Instagram @MeemCafeKW. Meem Café is located at the JACC, Kuwait City; The View Mall, Salmiya; Sea View, Abu Halifa; and 360 Mall, South Surra. For deliveries, check out their menu on Carriage.