In the heart of Kuwait City, you can find an old, traditional building offering an oasis of calm amongst the traffic and skyscrapers. Not only is it calm that they offer, but also traditional Lebanese cuisine of the finest calibre. Zeitouna is the restaurant where you can drop in for breakfast, swing by for lunch, stop by for dinner, or simply chill with a shisha and coffee.
As you walk down the steps that lead to the restaurant the first thing you’ll encounter is the outdoors seating area. This, like the other restaurants surrounding Zeitouna, seems more important than the inside and is certainly bigger. Here you’ll find regular tables and chairs but also some more comfortable seating in the form of outdoor sofas and armchairs for those looking to hang out. This is all concealed from other restaurants by hedges lining the perimeter of the garden.
The inside is traditional in design and all that you are looking for in a Lebanese restaurant. They have an open section into the kitchen where you can see the shawarma spinning and the meats grilling.
It being a glorious December morning when we visited we sat outside and basked in the sun. Perusing the menu brings up all the favorites of Lebanese cuisine. They’re not trying to be innovative at Zeitouna and that’s a good thing. They know what they are cooking and they cook it well.
We went there in the morning so we could also try a little breakfast. Zeitouna opens at seven-thirty in the morning for those early risers and breakfast lovers. We opted for the Terweea Jabaliyeh breakfast, which is manousheh zaatar with labneh, foul, egg qawarma (gently scrambled eggs with minced lamb), Saj bread, olives, freshly squeezed orange juice and your choice of tea or coffee. This breakfast is made for two and is more than enough although we did fight a little over the egg qawarma, but only because it was so good rather than there not being enough.
But of course it doesn’t even seem like Lebanese food if the word Mezza isn’t involved. Is there really anything better than having a table full of small plates topped with food that delivers big flavors? That pick and choose way of eating is perfect for any social occasion and means you get to sample so many different flavor combinations. We went for Lentil Soup, Tabouleh (of course), Fatoush Salad, Plain Hommos (again, of course!) and Labneh, plain with olive oil, that was so creamy and delicious I ended up simply spooning it into my mouth!
At Zeitouna they also offer daily meal specials. Each day, at lunch, they offer three different meals at a set price. Perfect for those looking for a good restaurant they can keep going back to for lunch and not get bored. When we there the main meal for the day was chicken stuffed with spinach, topped with a tomato based sauce and served with spicy potatoes – I would go back to Zeitouna for these potatoes alone!
Sadly feeling a little full after eating breakfast, mezza, and lunch in one sitting we didn’t get to explore the menu further. But next time we go back to Zeitouna there’ll be plenty for us to choose from. Grill platters of Kebab, Striploin Skewers, Taouk, and Lamb Chops to name a few. Take them wrapped up in bread and you’ve got their Grill Sandwiches. They also offer Shawarma Platters or Shawarma Sandwiches. If that’s not enough for you, then you can always go for the Saj. From spinach, to four cheeses, to minced beef and lamb, or minced sausages, there are fillings to suit everybody’s appetites.
The bread they serve at Zeitouna is exceptional and what better way to get some more in before we left than to take a dessert built on it. Chocoba is Lebanese bread, spread liberally with Nutella, slices of sliced banana and crushed nuts. We paired this tasty indulgence with a fruit salad and this created a perfect balance between the decadent Chocoba and the freshness of the fruit salad.
Sitting sipping my Turkish coffee, looking up at the skyscrapers shimmering in the sunlight was the perfect ending to our dining experience at Zeitouna. Sitting in the traditional, admiring the modern; this seems like a great way to dine in contemporary Kuwait. If you’re so inclined you could enjoy a shisha around this time.
If we can drag ourselves out of bed early enough we’ll be heading back to Zeitouna to experience an early morning breakfast. If we sleep in we’ll head down for lunch or dinner, the food will be great either way.
Zeitouna is located in Kuwait City, next to Bayt 7, behind the Catholic Church. For more information visit www.facebook.com/zeitounakuwait or call 22497833/44 for reservations. You can also find them on talabat for delivery and they offer catering services too.