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Sat 4 Aug 2007 12:00 AM

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Dining at Da Vinci’s

If you're looking for good value Italian food and a quiet venue for a business lunch Da Vinci's is for you.

If you're looking for good value Italian food and a quiet venue for a business lunch, aside from the Italian music humming in the background, then Da Vinci's is the place for you. Seen from the façade of the Millennium Airport Hotel in the Al Garhoud area, Da Vinci's bills itself as "Dubai's friendliest Italian restaurant".

And it's not far from the truth, as staff are extremely friendly and the service is equally amiable. The restaurant itself is decorated with a variety of Leonardo Da Vinci art work prints - and yes, the Mona Lisa is there as well, hanging on the sepia brushed walls and grinning at you while you wait for your pasta to arrive. Numerous decorative stereotypical Italian elements fill the main dining room. The decorators even went as far as placing a bearded mannequin behind a piano close to the entrance. As kitsch as the décor might be, it ushers in an atmosphere of cosiness and warmth. You can easily give the restaurant 10 out of 10 for effort. The food, however, is a slightly different story. While you can get a decent Italian meal there, some dishes are best avoided.

The strong fungal flavour of the funghi farciti starter, mushroom-filled mushrooms, might appeal to some but drive away many. While the dish might not seem appealing at first glance the filling is surprisingly good. If you're craving a Greek salad you might as well take the plunge but bear in mind the average-sized bowl of vegetables boasts an incredible amount of chopped onions and barely any feta cheese. Best described, the dish is distinctly average and unimpressive. Then again, what do you expect from a portion of Greek salad.

If you're a salmon ravioli fan, this is not the place to try it. The amount of cheese that comes with the dish could last you a whole month. In fact, you'll be lucky to even spot the ravioli under layers of melted cheddar. If you're in the mood, however, for some turkey escalopes cooked in a rich sauce accompanied by sauté mushrooms you won't be disappointed. The dish definitely delivers on expectations. Another recommended choice is the grilled hamour smothered in garlic, oregano and tomato concasse which is as pleasurable to the palette as to the eyes.

As good as the escalopes are, avoid ordering the spicy chicken breast. The two pieces of meat are fried to a crisp and drip with excess oil.

Avoiding the oil dripping on your suit trousers is one concern, while chewing on the hard flesh is another. Consoling yourself with the accompanying peas might not prove a comfort as the overcooked greens lack both taste and flavour.

On the other hand, the dessert section at the back of the menu represents a number of sound options. If redcurrant is your flavour, the sorbet can be relied on to refresh and bring down the heat in the overly warm restaurant. A nutty praline cheesecake could also tempt your tastebuds.

All in all, Da Vinci's represents a good choice for a quiet lunch meeting with the option to reserve and retreat to two private areas that are separated from the rest of the restaurant with wooden partitions. A certain number of dishes aside, value for money is great, especially if you make the best of the early bird 20% discount and dine before 9pm; a three-course dinner will come to approximately US$40 for two. Da Vinci's offers live music in the evenings. Discounts aside, an average meal for two will set you back US$55.

Verdict:A good choice for discreet business meeting, quiet dinners and good value for money. (Price for a meal for three was US$77.)

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