If you live in Kuwait, then I’m sure that you’ve sampled fusion dining, especially in a town that devotedly celebrates every food trend. The experience might completely take us by surprise, overwhelm us, or whimsically remind us of the familiar. Either way, Kuwait is abound with avid foodies who dare to push the limits of the traditional, and our latest visit to Vine Restaurant remarkably delivers on this premise.
Coming from a Lebanese background, I’ve always had a hankering for preparing my country’s favorite local dishes with different ingredients. I vividly remember how my relatives would stare me down whenever I’d offer them something new to try, where I’d meekly disown my Brie and caramelized fig mankousheh concoction, and settle for the classic Thyme and olive oil counterpart. It was always delicious, but my palate ached for more. Once I arrived at Vine restaurant, however, all of my devious foodie fantasies materialized. A beetroot Kebbeh, Edamame-infused Hummus and Quinoa-stuffed vine leaves are only but a few samplings of what this special place has to offer in terms of a contemporary take on your favorite Mediterranean flavor profiles.
Located in Bneid El Gar, Vine is immaculately decorated around the theme of the magnificent grape. Everything that this divine fruit has to offer is exemplified in calming hues of soothing mauve and earthy greens; both the indoor and alfresco dining areas make for a pleasant dining experience. Upon arrival, we were presented with a traditional Diyafeh, or welcome offering, of freshly baked Tannour bread along with chopped grapes, rosemary-infused feta cheese drizzled in olive oil accompanied by a cool clear glass jug filled with lemon and mint water. The choices of the Tannour bread on offer were dazzling, from rose, pistachio, raisins, mushroom, spicy Maabouch, mint and olives, your taste buds will start dancing in no time.
What I personally enjoyed the most about Vine is that I received the opportunity to sample traditional dishes in a completely new light. For this reason alone, you must come with a group of friends, and more importantly come hungry. Order a wide selection of freshly prepared dishes, creatively thought out, refreshingly new and unique. In tasting the wide selection of appetizers, you will instantly be reminded of the concept of ‘less is more’, where simple earthy flavors inspired by the best of what the Mediterranean has to offer, will make for a feast. Our feast included the Kubba Baqlava, a flaky, crunchy yet savory plate that offers the best of both worlds—deliciously spiced minced beef, along with a beautifully baked pastry sprinkled with crushed pistachios. The Kubbah affair continued with innovative twists in the forms of Pumpkin Kubbah with a caramelized onion stuffing, a slightly sweeter yet addictive Beetroot Kubbah along with a meat-based Kubbah with quinoa stuffing. With many Kubbah options suited for vegetarians, you can finally experience the Kubbah delicacy as the wonderful people at Vine have made this staple dish accessible to everyone. Instead of the traditional Baba Ghanouj, we revisited this local favorite in a new and inventive format: Mama Ghanouj! With chunky pieces of pumpkin marinated in the customary flavors of the Baba Ghanouj, the result is incredibly addictive and fresh. You’ll immediately sense a taste of the familiar, yet the slight sweetness of the pumpkin adds a new dimension to the palate. If you fancy the olden but golden dish, rest assured that traditional Moutabal and Baba Ghanouj are also available.
From the world of Falafel, we sampled the Falafel Sultany, a clever mix of quinoa and beetroot based falafel with a light side salad and yoghurt dip. Venturing into the salad and soup selections, a must try includes the Beetroot Rocca Salad. Fresh, untreated beetroot is finely julienned with crunchy, peppery Rocca and a drizzle of dressing make this a favorite. Other classic salads are the Greek as well as the Tabbouleh with Quinoa. Not only is the much-coveted Quinoa present in many dishes, yet the power-food is expertly utilized to enhance the texture of the dishes at Vine. Beyond the beautiful we loved how the presentation made for a visual treat, as the salads are layered artfully and presented in mason jars.
Main courses included an expertly grilled Veal Fillet with a coffee sauce, with a side of grilled potato wedges. The steak is effortlessly prepared to your liking. Now, you might think that it’s crazy to combine a regional coffee such as Turkish or Arabic coffee to protein, yet the texture is slightly adapted to become a magnificently unexpected side sauce, with a hint of cardamom. Besides this innovative sauce, the veal used in this dish, as well as all of the other meat dishes, is freshly sourced in Kuwait. We also tried the basil Pan-fried Chicken with a quinoa crust, which is your local house favorite of escalope pane reimagined with Quinoa. The crust is crunchy, with a hint of basil and olive oil, whereas the chicken breast that lies within is succulent and tender. A bazaar favorite from the main dishes was the Kafta Yort Oglo, which offers the best of Lebanese and Greek flavor profiles. The kafta patty is extremely juicy and tender given the quality of the meat used, and the Tzatziki-like yoghurt dip completely lifts a simple dish to another level. They even offer a Lebanese and Kuwaiti medley in the form of the Kafta Maabouch, which is scintillatingly spicy.
Dessert is a fantastic foray into Mediterranean delicacies. A classic Jazzariya bil Ashta, which includes shredded and sweetly marinated carrots in rose honey draped upon fresh cream with crushed pistachios and almonds to perfectly complete the trio of contrasting textures. The Ek Mik, a baklva and Kunafa mix, was simply gorgeous, as the combination of the sticky base of Kunafa with flaky baklava made for blissfully sweet treat. To end our dining experience, we sampled the locally grown Lemon Grass tea.