Middle Eastern cuisine puts on downtown garb at the fashionable new Bebabel café that brings an open-armed approach to Lebanese flavours in Dubai. It’s a lovely place to loaf, where my friends and I recently savoured lip-searing bites and sipped well-chilled brews, all while relishing the space that has the boisterous energy of a large family gathering. Opened this September in the Fashion Avenue extension at The Dubai Mall as a sub-brand of restaurant group Babel, and with outposts in Kuwait and Bahrain, Bebabel gives a progressive, pluralistic nod to the Lebanese cultural vocabulary both in its design and dishes.
Interiror View Of Bebabel
A grand entrance corridor dotted with sandstone arcades and mosaic flooring led me to the restaurant that’s draped in a fibre optic panel star ceiling that glistens like the night sky. At 3:30pm, the space was almost full, with its sleek grey upholstered chairs and wooden tables bustling with chatter and colourful nibbles. Stone-clad arches create an enclave at one end and floor-to-ceiling windows line the outdoor seating space that lends direct views of Burj Khalifa and the Dubai Fountain.
As with all other Babel and Bebabel concepts, Lebanese architect Claude Abi Saad has dreamt up the café with his signature use of arches and mirrors as architectural flourishes that add character to the sleek, contemporary space. Just as I began flipping through the menu to place our order, we were served with pillowy pita bread, straight out of the oven and scorched just enough to give it a delightful crunch.
For starters, chili potatoes were well-seasoned and perfectly golden, and the trio of labneh with garlic, moutabbal with roasted aubergine and tahini dip, and mafroukit tajen, a kind of Lebanese rice pudding, offered the right mix of sweet and savoury. Packing a punch was the tangy chicken liver served with pesto ras asfour and chicken with hosrom (verjuice).
Knefeh at Bebabel
Where the mixed grill ruled the day, the lamb cutlets were so perfectly seared and juicy that we ordered another serving. For crustacean lovers, the grilled marinated shrimp with baked potato salad and tartar sauce, allowed the sweetness of the shrimp to shine through. The mocktail menu offers seasonal delights, with Wild Passion notably a refreshing concoction of fruity goodness. Of the desserts, the with crisp and flaky baklava covered in cheese, and crunchy knefeh with rich chocolate ice cream were highlights.
With buoyant flavours and artful presentation, the food made its way into the crevices of our soul, satiating our appetite for traditional Lebanese eats with a modern twist. We left with Bebabel forever added to my list of unforgettable Middle Eastern restaurants in the city.
Call +971 4 419 0950 for reservations.