Situated on the Creek of Al Seef, ILA Restaurant & Cafe pairs modern architecture with Arabesque design and flavours
You’d be forgiven for thinking that the winding streets of Al Seef were the remains of the bygone bedouin era. But it’s credit to the traditional design of this 2017 Meraas development that, to visit here, feels like stepping back in time. Winding passages of stone brick walls give way to bustling market stalls selling everything from trinkets to house plants, before unfolding out to views over the Dubai Creek. It’s here that modern Arabic restaurant ILA sits. In light of its prime location, the restaurant promises ambience. Better Living went down to check it out.
Sitting right on the water front, the restaurant’s prime location ensures ambience, whether you’re dining during the day or, like us, during the evening. Opting for a table outside (booking is advised) means you’re able to watch abras glide over the Creek as you eat and take in views of the famous Rolex Towers which were built in 1998.
Set apart from the traditional looking design of Al Seef, the two-story restaurant is modern in design, taking a large square-shaped form. The facade is comprised of large glass pains, which are accented by stylish corrugated wooden panels. Both a bold and stark contrast from the stone walls of the adjacent shops and cafes, ILA echos its contemporary menu in its modern architecture.
Inside the walls are printed with monochromic banana leaf drawings giving it youthful feel. With subtle Arabesque accents such as colourful Moroccan plates and hanging lanterns nodding to the restaurant’s Arabic fare. Upstairs on the shisha balcony, lit up with throngs of fairy lights, is an open tent that provides a great vantage point over the Creek – making it a nice spot for an evening in Al Seef.
There’s a family-friendly feel to this restaurant, both through its spacious layout (socially distanced appropriately) and relaxed decor. The lighting plays a big role in crafting an atmosphere, particularly in the shisha lounge upstairs.
Arabic flavours are served in a variety of dishes to suit a range of tastes and dietary requirements. With the meat eaters in our party enjoying a miniature barbecue grill brought to the table, keeping the lamb chops warm. But particularly noteworthy, the restaurant has teamed up with Just Vegan to create plant-based versions of classic dishes such as mock-meat ‘chicken’ shawarmas.