Al Maskoof Review

Middle Eastern food has never been more fashionable, yet there’s a gap between what is Instagram-worthy and those word-of-mouth places that are truly authentic and family friendly. It’s refreshing to encounter Al Maskoof, already well-known in Dubai for its traditional Iraqi and Syrian-Lebanese food, where the emphasis is on warm hospitality and distinctive yet homely food, notably grills and fish (seabass in a special sauce is outstanding), and some of the best fresh pitta cooked freshly to order in a beehive shaped tandoor oven. It’s mesmerising to watch the chef roll and slap small dough balls on the tandoor oven walls. The bread cooks quickly forming crisp bubbles and a puffy rim, making it ideal for scooping up hummus, tabbouleh or the delicious okra stew. Al Maskoof’s refreshingly down-to-earth approach includes a rotating menu of daily specials.

On a recent visit, a generous dish of lamb stuffed with almonds and dried fruits and braised aubergine was fragrant, warming and comforting. What’s most striking is the dramatic wood firepit used to spectacular effect to cook river fish, especially carp served up with great ceremony. It is a restaurant well-suited to large parties and families who order a feast selection of mezze, the piquant lamb kibbeh is a must, and there’s the alluring temptation to pre-order a whole lamb. A large selection of well-judged biriyani and shawarma complement the menu too. Dessert is simply pistachio baklava served with glasses of good strong Iraqi tea. Be aware there’s no alcohol license.

Al Maskoof is an endearingly informal restaurant buzzing with contented and lively banter and satisfyingly replete diners. It’s a cosmopolitan asset to Connaught Village. On a final note, I was also informed that the restaurant has also got a sister branch in Dubai, so if you happen to be reading from those warmer climes, you can enjoy the delicious menu there too.

By Sudi Piggot, Food and Travel journalist and author of “Flipping Good: pancakes around the world”

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To book your table at Al Maskoof, call 020 7262 1999.

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