It’s not often we find ourselves dining at the same hotel twice in the space of a week, but that is exactly what played out at the Renaissance Downtown Hotel Dubai during the first week of Ramadan.
Affectionately referred to as the Ren, the newest five-star property to open in Dubai’s fast-paced Business Bay has carved out quite the reputation with the staggered opening of its numerous restaurants. From French farmhouse inspired Bleu Blanc from celebrity Chef David Myers, to the east meets west cuisine of the spectacular Morimoto (review coming soon). Each of the restaurants at the Renaissance Downtown Hotel Dubai represent truly unique dining destinations in their own right.
With the start of Ramadan it seemed like the appropriate time to finally check out modern Middle Eastern spot BHAR, situated on the hotels third floor. Having previously walked into the space during a tour of the hotel prior to opening, the transformation is quite evident. An all day dining space with a playful personality and plenty of colour, helps to drive BHAR ahead of the pack when it comes to design and ambiance.
Despite the appealing interiors, we’re beckoned to enjoy Iftar on the spacious outside terrace. Offering the notion of dinner with a view, we take our seats and gawp at the ever-evolving Dubai skyline from our vantage point over the newly inaugurated Dubai Water Canal. Cabana’s, a shisha BHAR (see what they did there) and flickering flames present a modern take on Arabia that is both seductive and relaxing and perfectly in keeping with the cuisine that draws influence from Morocco, Turkey, Egypt, the Levant and beyond.
With so much choice when it comes to Iftar, the team at BHAR, under the guidance of Chef Mohanad Alshamali, have wisely decided to forgo the buffet spreads in favour of a more relaxed set-menu approach and for a very reasonable AED 195 guests are treated to a wealth of Middle Eastern delights that amounts to A LOT of food.
Upon being seated our table is soon filled with colourful crockery containing the likes of dates (for breaking the fast), a chickpea hummus, Haydari (a cool Turkish yogurt dip), Antep ezme (a spiced tomato salad from Turkey), Baba Ganoush (a Levantine eggplant dip), marinated olives, Za’atar, Middle Eastern pickles, and a selection of freshly baked breads. Typical of the Middle Eastern family table the choice is vast and designed for sharing.
Hot mezze soon follow, with an impressive falafel salad featuring chargrilled gem lettuce, cucumber and a tahini tarator sauce that harmonises well in terms of both texture and flavor. A duo of chargrilled chicken and leek skewers (a signature of BHAR’s a la carte offering) sound appealing with their marinade of Yemeni saffron honey and Aleppo chili salt, but for us, the flavours needed to be more pronounced. Though the chicken was undoubtably tender and juicy.
Iftar at BHAR offers a small buffet selection for soup (Hrar or char roasted pumpkin), the obligatory Ouzi (pleasingly aromatic), a small dessert selection (featuring a particularly cheesy kunafa) and a selection of fragrant Ramadan juices. Dipping inside to explore the buffet, we’re impressed by the precision in plating and the mechanics of the kitchen as the team churn out dish after dish like a well oiled machine. It’s evidently a busy service and despite the obvious pressure, Chef Mohanad Alshamali is all smiles with his demeanor clearly indicative of the fact that he’s relishing in the moment,
The onslaught of food continues with a duo of main courses. A soft “Harra” Grilled Chilean seabass boasts delicately cooked flesh, complemented by spiced tomato sauce which helps to uplift the dish.
Cooked in North African spices the slow cooked wagyu short rib tagine works as an excellent showcase for the modern Middle Eastern cuisine of BHAR and represents a dish we strongly believe should become a permanent fixture on the BHAR menu.
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Back at the Renaissance for the second time in a week to try the Iftar at the contemporary Middle Eastern spot @bhardxb. A set menu boasting A LOT of food and even more flavour from Executive Chef Mohanad Alshamali. Don’t miss the harra grilled Chilean seabass or the Mohalabiaya creme brûlée with camel milk, raspberry and pistachio praline 👌 ・ ・ ・ ・ #BHAR #ModernMiddleEastern #Ramadan #Iftar #RenDXB #MyDubai #OutAndAboutUAE #ThatHotelGuy #BeautifulCuisines #NewOpening #Dubai #Foodie #LoveFood #PresentationGoals #MustTryDubai #MenWithCuisines #LoveFood #Food52 #ForkYeah #FoodieFeels #FineDining #UnmissableDining #Foodiesofinstagram #FoodCritic #RenaissanceDubai
In conjunction with the aforementioned dessert buffet of Arabic sweets and Turkish delight, BHAR’s Iftar menu provides an additional three desserts. The chocolate version of the Levantine Ramadan dessert katayef, presents beautiful flavours via a combination of walnut and candied orange, brining a true sense of Arabia to the palate. Yet we struggle with the distinctive texture that reminds us somewhat of cereal.
Ramadan favourite Umm Ali has long represented our preference when it comes to Middle Eastern desserts and BHAR’s version here is excellent, but soon usurped by the sweet Mohalabiaya brulee. The traditional Egyptian milk custard is transformed at BHAR into a creme brulee via the utilization of camels milk and is adorned with dried raspberries, pistachio praline and floral rose. Marking one of the only occasions in which myself and dining companion MarkMyWorld have fought for the last spoonful of a dish.
With BHAR having been on our dining radar since the opening of the Renaissance Downtown Hotel, Dubai, the Iftar is the ideal showcase for the restaurants modern Middle Eastern cuisine that works to encourage a repeat visit. This is exactly what a set menu should do (whether it’s business lunch, Iftar or pre-theatre). Highlight the strengths of the restaurant and leave diners wanting more.
BHAR means spice in Arabic and the name works as a strong reflection of the dining experience. With so many Middle Eastern restaurants in Dubai, it’s the quality of ingredients and the complexity of flavours which allow BHAR to stand out from the crowd.
Out & About UAE were guests of BHAR. All views are our own and photographs are © Out & About UAE.