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28 March, 2004

Chalet girls

For fifty weeks out of the year, Arabic food - at least in terms of main courses - is unremittingly dull. It consists of either grilled chicken, lamb, minced lamb or the imaginative "mixed grill" combination, served on a bed of chopped parsley with a few slices of flat Arabic bread. But for the yearly fortnight of paying homage to Dr Atkins, it is the Holy Grail.

Behold the little Chalet Restaurant, lurking in the shadow of the Burj Al Arab on Jumeirah Beach Road. How long before it is torn down to be replaced by a "five star" establishment packed with fat, offensive tourists is uncertain, but for now it offers plenty of Arabic fare at wonderfully low prices. Tabbouleh for a mere 5 dirhams. Half a rotisserie chicken with salad for 15 dirhams. The dining area may be white plastic chairs scattered on a small lawn next to a busy road, but for the carb-starved, it is a safe haven.

Though the demonic vision of a very cool, rich, creamy, velvety slice of chocolate cheesecake floats endlessly around in the head...



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