The Bateel brand is one of the Middle East’s greatest marketing success stories. Pioneering in revamping the humble date into a gourmet treat, Bateel extended into cafe culture with Cafe Bateel. It’s newest outlet on The Walk, JBR goes beyond the cafe experience, and offers a full fledged three-course menu.
The restaurant looks like a giant Arabesque-styled gift box, and the bright lighting and spacious interiors is very invitingly stylish. The newest branch at The Walk, JBR is the first of its kind to have all three Bateel concepts under one roof: the Bateel gourmet dates counter, the Bateel Bakery stocking freshly baked breads, decadent sweet treats and coffees, and the newly revamped Cafe Bateel section that offers a full fledged dining menu (and no, not everything on the menu has dates in it!).
We started off our Bateel dining experience with their signature drinks. Hubby chose to try the Bateel Signature Date Shake and I went for the Pineapple Mint.
Although the Bateel Signature Date Shake is bland by appearance, every sip of this drink is decadently delicious! The drink is rich and creamy, with the characteristic sweetness of dates. The blended dates add a slight roughness to the texture, and hubby kept insisting it tasted like drinking liquidated Oreo Cookies! Given it has the goodness of dates, Bateel’s Signature Date Shake is a far more healthful variation.
My tall glass of Pineapple Mint was by contrast light, sour and highly refreshing. It tastes similar to the ever popular ‘Lemon Mint’ drink, and the twist of using pineapple makes it exotically tropical.
A complimentary platter of assorted breads arrived at the table, fresh from the Bateel Bakery. The slices were still warm and aromatic, and a few drizzles of olive oil and balsamic vinegar made these a delicious treat.
The breads went beautifully well with the mushroom soup we ordered for starters.
Here is Bateel’s Wild Mushroom, Asparagus, Lentil, Tomato and Mozarella soup. Given we chose to share one portion by two, the quantity served is very generous. The soup is loaded with gourmet mushroom flavor, and I could get a hint of asparagus. The other flavors were more subdued, and this robust starter would be the perfect treat for a cold winter’s day.
Apart from the soup, the other starter dish on our table was the Salmon and Avocado Salad. This is a combination of two of my favorite things, and I could eat the whole bowl all by myself! The salad also included baby tomatoes, lettuce and blanched string beans.
The portion size for salads at Bateel is large enough to have as a main dish.
While we had our starters, we ordered my daughter’s main dish. Nearing 5 years old, she is a very fussy eater and demanded ‘yummy pasta’. We asked for a half-portion of the Fusilli.
Even as a half-portion, the Fusilli is far too large for a child. Not that I’m complaining, we were more than happy to dig in to the dish! The white sauce was utterly buttery and delicious. It had the rich flavor of mushroom infused into it, and the dish came with generous portions of succulently soft chicken pieces. Even my fussy little eater commented ‘It isn’t just good, its very, very, very good!’.
While waiting for our mains, I flipped through an article featuring Bateel’s Managing Director, Dr. Ata Atmar. As one of the key players in establishing the Bateel brand, Dr. Ata helped Mr. Ziad Al Sudairi (owner of the Bateel brand) market the high-quality dates from the Al Ghat region of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Today, Bateel is a household name for quality dates, and has 70 retail outlets across the Middle East, Europe and Asia.
The first Cafe Bateel concept was launched in Dubai itself in 2007, and it is therefore no surprise that we Dubaiites get to try out the extended dining menu first at the newest branch on The Walk, JBR!
Fun Fact: The company was initially christened ‘Al Fakhra’, but being foresighted, the founders realized this name would not be easy to pronounce for world markets. Fortunately Arabic is a rich language “that has so many names for everything” says Dr. Ata Atmar. Every year, shoots that can be cut and used to grow new date trees come out in bloom, and Mr. Ziad Al Sudairi learnt these young tree branches were called ‘Bateel’ in Arabic. It is an easy to pronounce name, and was therefore chosen for the brand.
The Bateel dining menu is based on an Umbrian style of cooking. It is classic Italian, employing the finest of seasonally available ingredients, yet many dishes have been customized with a Mediterranean twist.
Apart from the main menu, Cafe Bateel has a Seasonal Specials menu that focuses on the season’s freshest produce.
Hubby decided to order from this menu, and went for the Pan Seared Lamb Chops.
These slow-cooked lamb chops were beautifully juicy and full of meaty goodness. The chops sat on a healthful assortment of oven-baked carrots, artichoke, aubergine, zucchini, beans and celeria. Roasted vegetables and lamb chops is a marriage made in heaven, and this healthful dish minus added richness was relished to the last bean!
My order came from Cafe Bateel’s regular menu. I went for the Grilled Salmon and Quinoa.
Although I would have liked my salmon a little under-done, the fillet was flaky, well seasoned and the outer skin was beautifully charred and crisp.
The bed of quinoa is a perfect example of Cae Bateel’s innovative stance at blending Italian cuisine with Mediterranean flavors. The quinoa has been cooked with the consistency of an Italian risotto and has asparagus, peas and zucchini tossed in. A few sprinkles of fresh coriander and a zesty zaater sauce using dried Iranian lemon add the Mediterranean element to the dish. I have to say I enjoyed the quinoa even more than the salmon!
For dessert, we had a browse of the yummy treats on display at Bateel Bakery, and here is what we had:
My daughter chose to have the Hazelnut and Salted Caramel Tart, which was quite a surprise for me as I thought she would go for something more ‘chocolatey’. This is a rich, nutty slice with a soft mousse-like salted caramel topping, and a denser nut-filled base.
I am a huge fan of Lemon Meringue Pie, and was super excited to try the one at Bateel Bakery. It definitely hit the spot with its perfect balance of sweet and tart, and the biscuit base was deliciously buttery and crumbly. A must-try for anyone who enjoys this treat.
Hubby went for the Royal Chocolat below. With its glossy dark finish and gold leaf garnish, this dessert has aptly been given the ‘royal’ tag.
Which of these three desserts did we rave about most? It would have to be Hubby’s Royal Chocolat. Just have a look at the inside of this sinfully rich treat!
Made of deep, dark sinfully rich chocolate, the mousse sits on a decadently crisp butter biscuit for added texture. The Royal Chocolat is a pastry you would expect to find in a gourmet patisserie in France, and Hubby was not impressed with how helpful my daughter and I got with polishing this plate clean!
We ended our meal at Cafe Bateel with Cafe Mocha (Milk Chocolate). This in’t your average cup of coffee, and is more akin to a naughty treat. This warm coffee has the richness of milk chocolate, and the frothy cream on top is garnished off with swirls of chocolate sauce. The very soft and sweet Bateel date accompanying the drink went beautifully well with the flavor of coffee.
Overall, we really enjoyed our dinner at Cafe Bateel. It is heartening to see this premium brand expanding into the fine dining market, and I look forward to the newer seasonal additions to come.
Visit Cafe Bateel on The Walk, JBR and do let me know how you find it! Call 04 4565 837 for table reservations, and visit their website for more locations around the UAE.