Iftar at Bertin Bistro and Restaurant

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Bertin Bistro & Restaurant is the latest addition to the string of cafes on Al Manara Street (Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai). Modeled with the look and feel of an airy villa from the 1920’s, it is the fictional story behind Bertin that makes this newbie so unique.

Bertin Bistro & Restaurant is divided into two floors. The first floor is a bistro cum bakery. It  has a chic, minimalist Parisian look and offers dishes from the semi-Germanic Alsace region of France, the homeland of the fictional Mr. Bertin.

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Mr. Bertin’s love story centered around his days at his bakery and of his travels, feature on a wall connecting the ground floor to the upper level.

We were invited to the upper floor last Saturday for Iftar. A stark contrast to the white-washed ground floor, the first floor houses a restaurant based on a Spanish and Moroccan theme. Based on Bertin’s fictional travels, the decor on this level looks like something out of the pages of ‘The Arabian Nights’.

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Latticed arches frame the windows looking out onto a busy Sheikh Zayed Road, and the upholstery is in jeweled tones of turquoise and amethyst purple.

With an ambiance like this, it would be apt to have a hookah in hand! Bertin’s Iftar buffet includes sheesha, and is very reasonably priced at AED 99 per person.

We broke our fast with dates and glasses of Bertin’s signature drink, the ‘Bed of Roses’, which is included in the Iftar buffet.

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However, from past reviews, I was convinced this glassful was not Bertin’s showstopper, and the very obliging staff brought me a glass of ‘Bed of Roses’ in its original form. Served as a slush in a martini glass, this very rosy concoction definitely looks stunning! The addition of all that ice makes it highly refreshing, and I would recommend this drink to anyone who loves the flavor of rose (just have it in its original slushy form, and not from the buffet!).

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The buffet is set at the corner of the restaurant, which makes it a little claustrophobic with the crowds queuing up right after the Maghrib call to prayer.

While we sat at our table waiting for the buffet area to clear up a little, we were served these Spanish-style tapas, a thin-crust pizza if you will. The topping consists of mushroom, cheese, and raw onion. Served hot out of the oven, they smelt very appetizing, and who doesn’t love freshly baked bread with cheese?! If it wasn’t for the raw onions, I could have had more than one slice. On foresight, restricting to one slice was a good idea or I wouldn’t be able to do justice to the buffet offerings.

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The buffet is predominantly Moroccan, and includes a number of dishes that seem similar to Arabic cuisine, yet play on a different flavor combination of their own.

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The Iftar buffet at Bertin includes a number of salads and dips. I really enjoyed their tangy Lentil Dip. It had a lovely earthy consistency, and went beautifully well spread on pita bread.
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The Cheese Empanadas are savory pastries stuffed with gooey, warm cheese. Once again, raw onion has been used with the cheese. Maybe its just me, but I’d prefer the empanadas sans onion.
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The Chorizo with Tomato was one of my favorite dishes from the buffet. These decadently meaty spiced sausages are laced with the tanginess of roasted tomato. Very moreish!
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Here’s another one of my favorites from the buffet (I obviously love my red meat!). This is the ‘Cardero Tajine from Esmeralda’. Esmeralda is the fictional Mr. Bertin’s wife, and she makes a very delicious lamb with couscous! The meat was literally falling off the bone.
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The Saffron Chicken at Bertin is soft, juicy and succulent. Great quality for a buffet dish. And the infusion of saffron into the skin makes it exotically Moroccan.
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The Siyyadieh of Fish is a traditional Arabic addition to the buffet featuring baked fish fillets on a bed of brown rice.
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A meaty Kofta Curry in a tangy tomato gravy.
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An array of Moroccan sweets for dessert! Many of these have a predominating flavor of rose. Delicate, delectable and oh so very pretty!
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Here’s an interesting fusion of what I know from Arabic cuisine – the Kunafa at Bertin’s Iftar buffet features a soft cream-cheese centre rather than the gooey, stringy cheese I have become accustomed with eating Arabic kunafa. Unusual yes, but delicious nonetheless.
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We ended the meal with Espresso coffee. It was served with a decadently crumbly Fennel Macaroon on the side.
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Hooked onto the Sheesha, we sat back to enjoy the ambiance at Bertin (and to help digest all that overeating!).

Given Bertin has two worlds under one roof, I am intrigued to try out the bistro downstairs. I passed by the counter on the ground floor, and their French-style desserts look so tempting!

Overall our Iftar at Bertin was a memorable experience. The service is immaculate, the ambiance is beautifully artful, and for AED 99 with sheesha, the buffet offers a number of delicious treats you won’t want to miss.

Bertin Bistro and Restaurant is located on Al Manara Street, just off Sheikh Zayed Road – Dubai. For more information on Bertin, visit their website or call 04 321 9239 for reservations.