In the last two months we’ve eaten out almost every night. While fun at first (no dishes! No carrying shopping bags!) the enjoyment waned around the one month mark and there are now times when going out for dinner feels like a chore.
But every now and then we find a place with excellent food and atmosphere, and suddenly the magic of eating new food in a foreign city is rekindled.
Leila’s Restaurant and Terrace in Damascus was one such place. The restaurant is on the rooftop of a building that overlooks the beautiful Umayid Mosque, and the evocative stone street that borders it and meanders away into the Christian Quarter.
The food is from the Levant, with a strong Lebannese influence. There is an imaginative vegetarian selection that goes beyond Fattoush and Tabbouhleh.
Thanks to a small mix-up with our waiter, we tried both the goats labneh and the standard labneh. The comparison was interesting because the dishes were clearly distinct. The goats labneh was quite sharp and had a solid texture. The standard labneh had a much softer, richer taste, and a yoghurt like consistency. Both were lovely eaten with fresh pitta bread.
We couldn’t resist trying the omelette seasoned with sumac. The omelette was thin and delicate, and the sumac added a strong, slightly paprika-like flavour which I really liked.
We also ordered the lentil kibbeh, which we’d heard was recommended for vegetarians. Kibbeh turned out to the unfried lentil patties which we’d first tried in Istanbul at Zencifel Nature and Peace restaurant. The kibbeh were spicy, and mixed well with the labneh. There were also eggplant kibbeh on offer, which I’d love to try.
Leila’s does not serve alcohol (not unusual for Syrian restaurants), but we didn’t miss it with the deliciously fresh mint lemonade on offer.
For anyone visiting Damascus, Leila’s makes a beautiful choice for dinner, particularly if you want to try good quality versions of dishes from the region. Bear in mind that Leila’s is very popular, so it’s best to reserve a table, particularly if you want to eat around 9pm with the locals.
1 Comment posted on "Leila’s Restaurant and Terrace - Muslim Quarter, Damascus, Syria"
Koukla Terrani on September 3rd, 2007 at 6:45 am #
Ate at Leila’s a couple of months ago. The terrace was not open yet, but you’re right, food’s delicious! One of the few touristic located and directed restaurants definitely worth to try
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