- a blog about food and value

Rotana Cafe, Portobello

rotana-lebaneseI had popped into the Rotana Cafe on South Richmond Street for lunch previously and was happy with the lamb shish I got for €7.50. A good sized portion, it was well spiced and although the lamb was a little tough, the authentic Lebanese flavour made up for it. My husband had tasty falafel which for four pieces came in at €3.50. I recommended this place to friends and suggested it as a better alternative to Zaytoon because of it’s good atmosphere and service.

When I returned, this time for dinner, I was disappointed. I noticed a significant hike in the price. I once again ordered the Lamb Shish but because it was no longer lunchtime (12 – 5pm) it cost €11.50. It was an hour later, the same food and the same amount of labour involved; how can they charge an extra €4 for the same meal just because it’s dark outside?

For an extra €3 the dish came with Lebanese rice and a drink. I only got the deal because I really wanted the rice and if I had got the rice alone it would have cost me €3.50. The price hike was one thing but it was the meat that got my goat, it was really tough and tasted a little odd – so much so that it might as well have been goat.

Everything else, from the delicate rice and presentation, was good. Why go to so much effort on somethings and then serve expensive leather?

Although it’s a different cuisine, I just feel that if you are going to compete with the likes of Green Nineteen that offer delicious, well cooked main meals for €10 just down the road, they should lower their prices and change their butchers.

This is their lunchtime menu which is reasonable:

  • Falafel 4 pieces €3.50 (€3.90 after 5pm)
  • Falafel sandwich with hummus €5.90 (€6.90 after 5pm)
  • Chicken Shawarma (Roasted thin slices of chicken) served with mixed Salad and Lebanese Bread. €7.50 (€9.40 after 5pm)
  • Mixed Kebab (Roasted slices of marinated lamb and chicken) Served with Mixed Salad – €7.50. (€10.90 after 5pm)
  • Lamb Kafta (Charcoal brochette of minced lamb seasoned with parsley and onion) Served with Mixed Salad and Lebanese Bread – €7.50. (€9.90 after 5pm)
  • Shish Taouk (Charcoal-grilled brochette of chicken marinated in garlic & lemon juice) Served with Mixed Salad and Lebanese Bread. €7.50 (€11.50)


  1. I don’t agree at all with what rercy wrote previously.

    I think that’s pretty normal restaurants make special offer for the lunch time and then go back to their normal prices at the evening time. It’s not only because it’s dark outside than the price hike. Usually we are in rush at lunch time and we don’t spend the same amount of time than an evening time.
    Moreover, there is a waitress to look after you, not like in Zaytoon that is more like a take away restaurant.

    Personaly, I think Rotana Cafe is good value and it’s veryenjoyable to have a meal there.

  2. rercy seems a little off the track in his/her comments. I, like many others LOVE Rotana. It may not have a Michelin star – but for me it has the very next best thing. Authentic value for money flavoursome food in excellent surroundings. In fact rercy contradicts herself/himself over the lambs meat (which is normally excellent) and turns the argument upside down on lunch special offers. Indeed, she/he seems to be intimating that the Lunch prices are set first and then the Dinner prices are a hike thereafter. What nonsense. Even a teenage observer of restaurants and business knows it is the Dinner prices that are set first to win the business and that the Lunch prices are there to serve to supplement the traditional evening business – particularly in a recession. What’s more Zaytoon (which I also love) is not comparable due to the differences in serving format, facilities and cleanliness therein – not to mention the alcohol’d state of the clientele most evenings. Long live Rotana and other like it that offer great food and great value.

  3. Just don’t ask if the food is wheat free, as I was explained that no one in the kitchen knows if it is. I have never been in a restaurant where the chef is unable to tell which food is wheat free and I therefore seriously wonder about the ‘freshness’ of the food.
    Also, for me the comment on the prices does stand up, as I did not feel I got value for money.

  4. I think Rotana is a great restaurant and would recommend it to anyone. Nice relaxed atmosphere, delicious food and good value for money. If you like this kind of food another great place to try is Little Jerusalem in Rathmines. Just down the lane from Slattery’s pub. Gorgeous and BYOB.