Restaurant review: wide range of affordable dishes is trump card for Bazxar in DIFC

Bazxar may be better suited for lunch than dinner but either way it is worth a visit. A good spot for a group who cannot agree on what they want – the mix of food here will please most palates.
The food hall at Bazxar restaurant in Dubai International Financial Centre. Courtesy Bazxar
The food hall at Bazxar restaurant in Dubai International Financial Centre. Courtesy Bazxar

Bazxar, a restaurant in Dubai International Financial Centre where you might spend at least a few minutes figuring out how to pronounce its name (we can save you the trouble – it’s bazaar), is a welcome addition to this busy business hub. Not necessarily for amazing food, but for the affordability and convenience it offers in a crowd of higher priced – and much stuffier – venues.

Designed to resemble the food halls of Europe and the United States, Bazxar reminds us that the best global food trends will all make their way to Dubai eventually.

For the uninitiated, food halls are typically indoor venues that serve a range of cuisines (Le Gourmet in Galeries Lafayette at The Dubai Mall, for example, is a prime example of a department-store food hall).

Bazxar has a kitchen called The Meat District that serves a handful of starters, sides, burgers and hot dogs. A cafe offers coffee, bakery items, sandwiches and pizzas, and the Wok kitchen serves Vietnamese noodle dishes and steamed bao.

There are six wooden picnic tables and three long, high-top tables in the main dining room. The decor is a little forced but I like the effort that has gone into it. There is a neon sign and a wall covered in graffiti in the Meat District kitchen. The cafe is separated with additional seating, and we are told it is bustling in the morning.

There is also an inviting social lounge, which includes a central bar. On the other side of the lounge is a separate kitchen and dining room that offers a different eating experience.

It is a more refined option that comes with a completely different menu – one you cannot get on the casual side.

We stick to the casual food hall and start with “Trash Can” nachos and the crab cake roll from the Meat District. The nachos are a massive pile of tortilla chips with chilli, guacamole, black beans, green onion, sour cream, chipotle ranch dressing, pico de gallo and melted cheddar cheese. It is a beautiful mess.

The toppings are layered throughout the mound, so there are no naked chips in the bunch. This is tasty comfort food that justifies the need for extra napkins.

The crab cakes are less impressive. A mix of jumbo lump crab, avocado, tarragon and tobiko (flying fish roe), it comes packed in two small toasted potato buns rather than the usual crab-cake form.

I like the innovation and I have high hopes when we order – but the crab is overwhelmed by too much tarragon. It is so overpowering that I can’t taste anything else and I’m left to wonder if there was a mistake in the measurements on this batch.

For our mains, we get chicken wok-fried noodles from the Vietnamese kitchen and a grilled Cuban sandwich from the cafe. The noodles are a flurry of flavours: soy-glazed chicken, peanuts, cashews, lemongrass, green onion, water chestnut and halved kumquats. It is sweet, salty and sour all at once and good enough that I take the leftovers home (it is even better the next day).

The Cuban fails to live up to expectations. I knew not to expect an exact replica, of course – but I did expect more flavour. This one has veal ham, rotisserie chicken, pickles, provolone and Dijon mustard, all appropriately assembled in a panini press to attain the signature warm, slightly crispy bread a Cuban is known for. But the chicken is too bland and Swiss cheese – normally found on a Cuban – would add more flavour than the provolone used here.

There are only two desserts on offer: a skillet chocolate-chip cookie and a Nutella milkshake. Both are good, but if you have only room for one, go for the cookie. It is a small portion and just enough sweet without any added guilt.

The milkshake comes with homemade Nutella ice cream, topped with whipped cream, Kit Kat bars and broken pretzels stuck to the side of the glass with chocolate. It’s fun, but also shockingly sweet.

The service was slow even though it wasn’t busy. We have to get our waiter’s attention each time we needed him – even to clear empty plates.

Another gripe? There is no local water offered. I am not okay with that in upscale restaurants. I’m even less okay with it in more casual places. Don’t make me pay Dh20 for Italian water to go with a starter called Trash Can nachos.

Bazxar may be better suited for lunch than dinner but either way it is worth a visit. A good spot for a group who cannot agree on what they want, the mix of food here will please most palates.

• Our meal for two at Bazxar in DIFC cost Dh343. For more information, call 04 355 1111. Reviewed meals are paid for by The National and conducted incognito

sjohnson@thenational.ae

Published: September 21, 2016 04:00 AM

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