Taking inspiration from the beauty of Islamic art and calligraphy, the beautiful interiors of Bab Al Mansour transports its diners to an exotic palatial setting in faraway Morocco.
Located on Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard in downtown Dubai, opposite the Dubai Opera, the restaurant specializes in both Moroccan and Turkish cuisines and all the ingredients used are sourced from organic-certified farms of Morocco.
We stepped into the gilded doors of Bab Al Mansour a few weeks back, and were greeted by a young man in a deep blue ethnic robe with a warm smile and hot cups of sweet Moroccan tea.
We were guided to our table and handed over an iPad featuring a menu listing one of the widest range of Moroccan food I’ve seen in the UAE. There were a few familiar names, and many I’ve never heard of before.
We started off with hearty bowls of soup. I decided to try the Bissara, a thick soup made of flava beans and accentuated with generous pinches of cumin. This is a very earthy, wholesome soup.
My husband went for the more popular Harira soup; a traditional soup made of tomatoes, lentil, chickpeas and cubes of meat. It is served with a side of chebakia (a deep-fried Moroccan pastry coated with honey and rosewater syrup and sprinkled with sesame), fresh dates, an almond roll and lemon wedges. The Moroccans like a hint of sweet in all they eat.
We tried a dish called Zalouk. This dish is made of eggplant that has been cooked in tomato and marinated in a traditional Moroccan charmoula paste. The zalouk comes under the cold appetizers and was one of my favorites from the night.
We also had a platter of Mixed Brioute. These were an assortment of pastries featuring a variety of stuffings including shrimp, kofta and chicken.
Another interesting appetizer from the night was the highly recommended Chicken Bastilla. With is fine, crisp filo pastry exterior that’s coated with a heavy sprinkle of icing sugar and cinnamon, you’d be forgiven for thinking this was a dessert. Fork into the pastry-pie to reveal steaming hot chicken! The concept may seem strange, but somehow the sweet and salty work beautifully well together.
Bab Al Mansour offers a long list of fresh juices and interesting mocktails. My daughter had the Moroccan Rose (a mix of pomegranate, mixed berries and a dash of rose water), my husband had a Lemon Mojito, and I went all healthful and chose the ‘Bonjour Beetroot’ (a mix of beetroot, spinach and apple) from the Detox selection.
For our mains, I opted for a Lamb Tagine with Prunes. The portion size is generously large here, and can easily feed three adults. Loved the moreishly soft meat and the beautifully cooked prunes. We scooped up all the beautiful gravy with thick, freshly baked Moroccan bread.
My husband ordered the Bab Al Mansour Mixed Grill. From lamb chops to skewered koftas and saffron-laced shish tawook, there was plenty of grill here for four or more.
We ended the night with hot cups of traditional Turkish coffee and an assortment of exotic nut-filled Moroccan cookies.
Overall, we had a magical Morccan night at Bab Al Mansour. Loved the ambiance and the service here was exemplary. A special ‘thank-you’ to Salim, our very gracious Moroccan host for the night who also helped us with many of our menu selections.
Bab Al Mansour also offers shisha. With the weather cooling down for alfresco dining, I am planning to be back soon for a laidback evening of great food and smoke on their exotic grounds.