Elia | October 20.2012

By Aysha Majid

I would recommend Elia to those who have overdosed on the city's showpieces. A gem of prepossessing charm, it's what you crave when you feel rationed of character, eager to shun the overt 'wham bam thank you ma'am/sir'.

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My fellow diner and I feel as though we have been transported somewhere else. The Majestic Hotel is candidly not where you would expect this little flower to shelter. Led to a pretty, rustic table (whitewashed chairs, cheery blue and white linen and robust tableware) the staff are charming and friendly, but we soon realise that the manager/head chef Elias Kokoroskos and assistant manager Evangelia Pispirigkou, are the catalyst to elevating our experience to new heights. Authenticity of menu and the modern Greek atmosphere are complimented by the charming couple and it all falls into place when we inquire further. The owners of the hotel are Greek and simply wanted a little piece of home in their adopted city. Not only does that little piece of home equate to their star staff, but the restaurant also plays host to a bijou ouzeri on the olive tree terrace, perfectly lit with twinkling lanterns and simple bar. Wherever you choose to dine in this place (be that the personal dining area, surrounded by glass and greenery in the main restaurant, or tucked away on the terrace) there is seldom a table that could disappoint.

Our first course arrives— blanched wild greens with beetroot and light garlic sauce, accompanied by a green bean salad with tomato vinaigrette and feta cheese. I begin to lose interest in the greens after the second course (however crunchy and fresh) but am soon snapped back into the room by the sight of the grilled calamari. A classic fillet of sea bass follows, with juicy risotto and egg lemon sauce (no mention in the menu description of the elegantly placed foam). The refreshing disregard for pomp and ceremony does not go a miss and a flattering submission of lamb cutlets served with grilled potatoes and halloumi cheese contradicted with a hunk of rosemary, to compliment the comforting surrounds. Each wine pairing recommended by the chef just works, with some flattering Greek options such as the Gerovassiliou and Nemea. At the risk of food envy I opt for the well-endorsed recommendation of fried orange dessert and sure enough on arrival my heart does sink a little, at the sight of a demure looking slice with a pattering of sugar dust.

An age-old (don't judge a book by its cover) lesson gives me a kick from behind and I'm more than pleasantly surprised by the shrewd present.

Classic, softly patriotic tableware, plenty of fresh and delicate seafood, crunchy salads, succulent meats and a humble selection of desserts; it is plain to see that this place is passionate about all things Greek. Shunning rich cuisine compilations (often favoured, now Dubai orthodox), Elia is a refreshing asset in our glittering metropolis and has not been tainted by gimmick or constrictions. Finish off your true experience with a digestif of Chios's famous Mastiha on the cosy terrace.

Majestic Hotel Tower, Al Mankhool Road, Bur Dubai
04 501 2690