A relative newcomer to São Paulo’s restaurant scene, Zaatar doesn’t rate highly on the first impressions scale. The functional space lacks anything in the way of warmth or charm, but its location just a stone’s throw from the Kinoplex shopping complex, make it a handy, no-frills options nonetheless for the Itaim office crowd.
The menu raises the bar, however, with a solid choice of traditional Lebanese snacks, dips, salads, kebabs and sandwiches (including the beirute – the made-in-Brazil-but-never-in-Beirut cheesey wrap), all presented on an easy-to-digest one-page menu.
A good lunch choice is the ‘prato do dia’ (R$25) – a daily-changing midday meal, or a sandwich. For the latter, choose from two types of bread; saj, a flat bread cooked on the eponymous dome-shaped metal ovens just by the front door; or manoushe, a softer, round, baked flat bread.
We plumped for the manoushe sandwich with beef (R$19.50) – perfectly-salted minced beef wrapped in comfortingly warm, soft flat bread. We also tried the batata harra (R$13.50) – a mound of fried potato cubes, seasoned with garlic, chilli and parsley – which, though generously proportioned, were undercooked and greasy.
Zaatar didn’t disappoint on the food front, but the ambience (or lack thereof), and the sporadic arrival of our dishes, left us with a sense of being in an upmarket refectory rather than a restaurant.