Bab Al Shams Certainly Has The 'Je Ne Sais Quoi'
A Place To Remember
Many years ago, while on a ski trip in a resort in Northern Italy, our group's instructor recommended we go to a local restaurant, that only locals know about. We were staying in an Italian village that was run by a few small families, of which our trusted tutor came. We all went high in the mountains to this amazing castle like restaurant, it's hard to put my finger on what made the meal so special, but the whole experience was so exceptional that it always stays with me. I don't even know the name of the place, but it had a certain 'je nais sais quoi'. Bab Al Shams, out in the desert Al Qudra way, past the Equine Endurance Centre, has the same effect.
Like An Old Bedouin Home
Staying at Bab Al Shams resort and spa is more like staying at a historic old Bedouin house than an hotel. From the long dimly lit roads that lead up to the winding avenue, to the homely decor of the lobby, the warm entrance greeting, the cave like cosy bedrooms; from the board selection of exotic ornaments to Persian carpets on the floors and draped on the walls. Did I mention Bab Al Shams is incredibly tranquil and quiet? Not a peak can be heard throughout the night, so much so you are surprised to find fellow guests in the restaurant and at breakfast.
Masala: An Arab-Indi Fusion
Our chosen restaurant was Masala, which offers traditional north Indian cuisine. It has built up a reputation over the past 10 years of serving the finest Indian food of its kind in Dubai.
There was the option to sit inside the colourful enclaves or outside in the patio area, where an Indian band played live music. I choose the latter.
The waiter was almost overly attentive, and the explanation of the menu was like a history lesson of north India, however, this was very welcome and added to the feeling of authenticity.
Lamb, Slow Cooked For 11 Hours!
The food is of a very high standard. Of the four courses, I couldn't find a fault. With Indian food, depending on your pedigree for spices, it's important to balance the dishes. So the hot sauces and poppadoms were followed by a light salad (Masala Kachumbar Salad) before a skewer of jumbo prawns (Lahsooni Jhinga) arrived. I like fish at the best of times, but didn't expect such amazing jumbo prawns as these at an Indian restaurant. The main course, the Chef Special: Koh-E-Awadh, highly recommended by the waiter, Aditya, was a slow cooked lamb speciality. And it didn't disappoint. Cooked over 11 hours in a sealed pot, this dish takes braised lamb shanks to a different level. The lamb alone, is enough to want to come here again.
A History Of North India, or a Menu?
Lahsooni Jhinga Jumbo Prawns
Koh-E-Awadh Slow Cooked Lamb
Afterwards, Aditya kindly gave me a tour of the restaurant and up the stairs to the open air lounge that gazes up at a starry sky. It made me regret not getting there in time for sunset. He explained the new Indian Hookas available which are very popular among shisha lovers.
A Break Away
I wasn't sure how good an idea having a feast of Indian food before going on a long cycle was. But it didn't put me off. Bab Al Shams is well known amongst luxury travellers, amongst local Emiraties and those Dubaites who like to enjoy a break away within Dubai. It is also well know among the cycling community, as it is located along the Al Qudra road cycling track. The legendary Saturday morning coffee run (it started 5 years ago this weekend and has been out every Saturday since), actually stop for breakfast at Bab Al Shams before joining the loop again and heading back along the stick.
After my cycle that morning, I had breakfast in Al Forsan, which is beyond the swimming pool area. Again looking at all those loungers, I regretted not 'working from home' on this occasion! It was an exciting selection for breakfast, with such an arrange of jams, honeys and juices along with the usual suspects.
Variety of Jams and Honeys for Breakfast...
... and LOTS of Juices
Until Next Time
The stay was complimentary from Meydan Group. However, the meal would have cost 500 AED per person and a room is around 1,200 - 1,500 AED. All in all, this short break gave me a spring in my step that lasted all week. Next time, I'll stay a little longer perhaps.