Sheen Levantine cuisine where old meets new

(Photos: Zeid Odeh and Sheen website)
Located close to the Second Circle, I have passed this restaurant almost every day on my way to work, and it successfully managed to grow my curiosity. So this week, I finally decided to be late for work and check it out for lunch.اضافة اعلان

Sheen is a Levantine cuisine restaurant that combines old and new. Levantine cuisine usually combines dishes from multiple countries in the Levant region, and collectively, it refers to eastern Mediterranean countries such as Cyprus, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, and Egypt, as well as parts of Turkey.

The restaurant itself is a renovated old building, which adds to the dining experience, and here is why: there is an ambiance to the place, a mixture between old and new. There is an indoor and outdoor seating area, and the décor is modern, coming together in a great mix.

The menu is comprised of cold and hot appetizers, salads, main course, and, of course, dessert. The overall selection of dishes also includes a healthy mix of signature and traditional items.

I ordered the Shanklish Salad, creamy freekeh with mushrooms, shrimp fatteh, and chicken shawarma.

Shanklish is usually served with mixed bell peppers and olive oil and eaten with bread. Made of cow or sheep milk cheese, the shanklish is typically formed into balls of approximately 6cm in diameter, covered in zaatar and Aleppo pepper, and then aged and dried. The salad form of this dish, tossed with mixed greens, green apples, mushrooms, and a creamy dressing, was delicious. The overall presentation of the dish was simple and appealing. I love shanklish, so I enjoyed the salad and the way the apples’ sourness complimented the cheese’s nuttiness.

The creamy freekeh with mushroom was simple and straight to the point. The freekeh was cooked nicely, and the consistency of this dish was just right. I always felt this dish should be the main course dish with protein added instead of just a hot appetizer. And if you think of it as a risotto dish, you also would not order it as an appetizer.

When you hear fatteh, you usually think of chickpeas or rice with yogurt sauce and toasted bread. So when I heard shrimp fatteh, I was intrigued. The shrimp fatteh here is served with toasted bread only and the yogurt tahini sauce.

The liquid-to-solid food ratio was not ideal, making it more of a brothy consistency dish. The shrimps were very overcooked and had a rubbery texture. The sauce tasted good, but the dish, overall, was not very enjoyable.

Shrimp usually is cooked pretty fast, and if placed with other ingredients, it should be added towards the end of the cooking process. I would personally add a starchy component other than the toasted bread in this dish. The chickpea might not be the most suitable option here, but perhaps corn grits could do the job. Yet, if we are not going in that direction, then I would reduce the amount of sauce on the plate.

The shawarma dish is served with a side of garlic aioli, sliced onions, pickles, and french fries. And while it looks very attractive and Instagram-worthy, it was missing an important aspect to help customer experience.

Allow me to elaborate: the concept of the dish is to allow guests to build their own sandwiches, but what was missing was the consideration of how the ingredients would fit into the self-made sandwich. If mini pita bread is used to make the sandwiches, and one puts some garlic aioli on the bread and a piece of chicken from the skewer, then there is not much room left for the pickles if they were cut the way they were. Adapting the chicken portion size to hold itself on the skewer comfortably without falling and cutting the pickles into julienne cuts (thin strips) can make the experience much less of a hassle and easier for the guests to eat.

Taste-wise, the dish did not have that harmony of flavors that compliment each other, and the spices of the chicken felt a little raw. I personally would recommend relooking at the dish overall.

The service staff was very friendly, even though I arrived pretty early at the restaurant. The service was good and hospitable, and the place is most suitable for families and large gatherings.

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