You probably thought DIFC had everything it needed, didn’t you?
So did I.
Thus, imagine my surprise when a new venue came along and is basically like, “Actually…how about we try this?”
Take a former art gallery and transform it into a unique multi-level restaurant, complete with outdoor space, and you’ve got my new favorite venue in DIFC. Equal parts casual and effortlessly cool, the menu is a bit eclectic (it works for me, but I can see how others might prefer a more traditional approach) and the engagement of the staff is well above average. This is BB. As they mention on their website, “Begin anywhere,” which is precisely what we did.
Seated near one of my favorite chefs in the city, my dining partner and I happily welcomed a glass of Marquis de Joncary Joseph Perrier champagne to start, a special served here (in coupes no less) for AED65. While not forced in any way, we were immediately put in a celebratory mood. For food, we decided to trust the kitchen with our order, who, after alerting them to some allergies, did not let us down. To begin, our favorite dish was the deceptively simple Crispy Glazed Sprouts (AED28)
which I could eat by the truckload, seconded by the Super Green Hummus (AED22), served with crispy chips. A healthy Super Salad (AED22), ‘Kung Fu’ chicken wings (AED32), and relatively authentic Padron Peppers (AED20) balanced the rest of our first course. Could we have stopped there? Probably. Fortunately, in the spirit of tasting the menu, we continued. You’ll note that four of our five dishes were vegetarian — props to a very inclusionary menu.
As a second course, we tried to varieties of the beautiful Bao — look for this on my ‘best of December’ list, because you will certainly find this dish there. I preferred the Chicken Bang Bang version (AED45) slightly over the Habibi option (AED48), pictured below. While I do not have a ton of experience with Bao, I will say these pillowy bits of dough were cooked to perfection, stuffed with well seasoned and balanced proteins. If I had only one thing to order, it would be one of these two. Also, there are four other varieties, so I’ll definitely have something new to try on my next visit. I’d love to hear feedback from those who have more experience with this delicacy and how it compares.
Following the Bao, we were served a variety of Pho, which ranges in price from AED45 to AED60. Now, let’s clarify that, like Bao, I am not anything of an expert on this dish. While I loved the proteins and the overall presentation, I felt perhaps the broth on all three versions we tried could have involved a bit more depth, heat, and sourness. While the tofu wasn’t for me, I do respect this venue, which, as mentioned above, has plenty of options for vegetarian diners. Additionally, unlike the first course, which was easy to share, you’re going to have to order your own Pho, because it’s too difficult to split (much as we tried). As a minor note, I’d love to see the bowls served with chopsticks and a big spoon, but these are small requests.
And finally, with a selection of desserts, we opted for the Fry Pan Brownie, AED45. Served with a caramel sauce and cheesecake ice cream (!), although I thought I was too full, I managed to find room for a few bites.
As a final note, I think it’s worth mentioning that my friend and I were at the venue for over three hours (and no, that had nothing to do with how long it took for the food to arrive). Much like my experience at Cabin, I was delighted to be welcomed to a place that encouraged a lingering meal and conversation.
Some of the food, if you would like to see:
What would I change? Well, if you are averse to stairs, or have mobility issues, I can guarantee this is not the venue for you. Or, if you do have trouble with stairs, or want to wear heels, you’re probably best requesting a table at either the top or bottom level and then entering accordingly. While the majority of the dishes are spot on for their pricing, there are a few that feel just a bit over…but not enough to keep me from ordering again. If you’re looking for a similar comp in the marketplace, the closest I can come up with is Play (although the price points between the two are quite different).
Would I go back? Uh, hell yes. With literally something for everyone, this venue is my current go-to restaurant in DIFC. BB is intended (and succeeds) at being a very inclusionary restaurant — a take on the market that I applaud.
A to Za’atar was a guest of BB Social Dining. Opinions are my own, just ask my husband.