Travel Trails
By Sushmita Bose
Friday, August 03, 2012

The iftar buffet at al bahou, Ibn Battuta Gate Hotel, pays a culinary tribute to the great traveller

Ramadan, one is generally inundated with iftar invites — and, it takes a lot of restraint to not break free and end up, at the end of the month, with a tidy pile around the waistline (especially if you are not fasting and have been greedily tucking into breakfast, lunch and those little nibbles that come your way through the day).

The reason I picked Ibn Battuta Gate Hotel for an 
iftar indulgence was because I gathered I could perhaps pick up a few tips from the trail of the region’s best-known voyager, Ibn Battuta. And that ensconced in its mystical, Arabic setting, iftar would mean more than just a stellar line-up of fine dining choices.

Turned out to be the perfect gamble.

Spread across the very ambient Al Bahou lounge, dressed up in Arabic motifs and discreet-yet-incandescent lighting, the iftar buffet is a visual (other than being a gastronomic one) feast. There are food-stations serving cuisines from lands that the great traveller set foot on, and there are friendly chefs around to give you culinary tours.

The preparations are 
top-notch, and even though the hotel is handling a sizeable number of diners, there is a hum of quiet efficiency evident: all counters are excelling in supply chain management, the food is uniformly fresh and hot, 
and there are genuine smiles accentuating the spirit of the Holy Month.

Tricks of the hospitality trade have not been given a go-by, so there is some funky stuff as well: like, the cold mezze offerings being moulded in the shape of cakes. Pretty remarkable, although I almost missed my favourite hummus because I thought I was passing the desserts section — something I’d save for last.

A special word for the dates counter: many of the varieties have been brought in from Saudi Arabia, and there is an excellent choice at hand.

There is a ‘resident Ibn Battuta’ who comes and tells you interesting tales — while serving you a plethora of very delectable Arabic teas and coffees. For the first time in many years, I wrapped up a meal without my mandatory cappuccino.


What we liked: Traditional settings, 
excellent service, and great food

What we didn’t like: Being spoilt for choice with so much on offer

Did you know: Ibn Battuta journeyed more than 75,000 miles (121,000 km)?

Cost for 1: Dh150 (buffet)
The buffet is free for children below the age of 6; and costs Dh75 for those between 7 to 16

Contact: Ibn Battuta Gate Hotel, Dubai, 04-444 0000 


Iftar at Asateer

If you are looking for iftar and suhoor options, then try out the spectacular beachfront tent at Asateer at Atlantis, 
The Palm. Asateer is offering guests iftar for Dh175 and suhoor a la carte, in an ambience of time-honoured traditions. It will also have eight dedicated Majlis areas, prayer rooms and provide an ambience filled with traditional activities and live entertainment throughout suhoor by Arabic oud players. Advance reservations required.
Call: 04-4260800


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