By Mariam Mahsud •
Situated in Katara Cultural Village, Ard Canaan restaurant takes you on a journey to experience Palestinian culture and cuisine in a manner that is, in a word, artful. The restaurant’s very name is a tribute to the Levant, with the word Canaan being an ancient term for the region.
Upon stepping in, the atmosphere of the place immediately envelopes you. This is partly why it is clear that everything — from the décor to the last drop of tea — is placed with much care and thought.
One of the more interesting attractions of Ard Canaan is the giant key that lies like a sentinel at its entrance. It is, in fact, the largest key in the world, set there in remembrance of the many displaced Palestinians, who still keep the keys of the homes they left behind.
Ard Canaan is, in its way, a lesson in nostalgia. Even the counter at the reception is carved from a large stone brought from a mountain in Palestine. As for the food — which is inescapably delicious — it all consists of family recipes from the owner’s mother, passed down from generation to generation.
We visited Ard Canaan for breakfast. The menu offers a choice of one-person or two-person platters, as well as an à la carte option. The service is prompt and cheerful, and I am glad to say, puts one at ease immediately.
The Jerusalem breakfast platter, which consists of thyme with olive oil, spicy hummus, halloumi cheese, qudsya (bean with hummus), sunny side up eggs, falafel, regular labneh, hummus with chick peas, as well as regular tea with sage or mint. The bread is brought warm from the oven, and the freshness and simplicity of the ingredients lends a wholesomeness to the meal that is not common to come by.
The Acre and Alfallah trays are also worth sampling, with offerings such as mufraka potato with eggs and shakshouka eggs. The Acre tray offering a special sampling of acre cheese or akkawi, which is scrumptious.
The two-person platters may easily feed three, and for the level of quality and taste, are value for money picks, ranging in price from 90 to 110QR. The one-person platters range between 50 and 70QR, and have generous portions.
What Not to Miss:
The fattet hummus is an interesting take on the plainer version of this dish, with a bread pudding-like consistency that is complimented by the flavor and texture of toasted pine nuts.
The manakish, which is offered on the à la carte menu, and may be topped with thyme, cheese, or both. This bready snack is mouthwateringly crisp and buttery, and altogether satisfying.
The atmosphere is conducive to both family groups and individuals. The interior is open and airy, especially during the day, when the sunlight enhances the effect of the light marble walls and ceiling.
The marble itself is imported from Madinat al Khalil in Palestine. The fountain that bubbles at the center, along with the intricately carved ceiling, are imitations of Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.
The furniture of tasteful dark wood is handcrafted, cushioned with traditional woven Palestinian patterns, similar to the cloth patterns worn by Palestinian girls. Traditional cloth brought from Palestine is actually sold at Ard Canaan, enhancing its status as a cultural symbol.