The over-the-table barbeque concept Barbeque Nation brings to Dubai is not new. Absolute Barbeque, known now as AB’s, first launched the exact same theme about two years ago. The two are so uncannily similar, if I didn’t know better, I’d say they were from the same source. But they’re not. I recently visited a Barbeque Nation on home ground in India (their perpetually super busy Salt Lake branch in Calcutta) and was curious to see how the two compare. Dubai is better.
The interior is spacious, tastefully decorated and instantly recognisable with their glass-enclosed, showcase barbecue ‘pit’ on the far end, live Kulfi station on the near end and buffet in the middle. The Dubai branch has two new live cooking stations I did not see in India, with Veg and Non-Veg separated to the point that they do not even use the same cooking utensils – impressive. The immaculately set tables have slow-burning, smokeless coal grills which are placed in an otherwise covered cavity in the middle of the table. That’s when you know your meal has started.
Skewers of savoury Veg and Non-Veg starters are brought (cooked) and placed on the table grill to warm…or burn depending on how attentive you are.
Once you have had your fill, a delightful buffet awaits. On this occasion I particularly liked the Mutton Handi, the (one of three) Panchratan Dal, and the Mutton Biryani; the Mutton Handi was exquisite, one of the best I’ve ever had. And the dal was pretty damn good too.
Throughout the entire process one is pampered beyond belief. The captain of our station, Somnath Ghoshi and one of his waiters, Bal attended our table of three without a break, bring us skewer after skewer of starter, naan, and basically whatever we wanted, noting which one of liked what and bringing each his own preference. Unbelievable. I cannot remember the last time I experienced service this attentive.
This applies to young Rahul Roy, master of the hugely popular Kulfi counter who, after nearly 50 years of my eating Kulfi, introduced me to something new…something sinfully, Meg Ryan OMG! OMG! OMG! delicious: Malai Kulfi with condensed milk…yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!
I came back the following day, a Friday, with my family. As expected, the place was packed (a prior booking is 100% recommended). I was hugely impressed at how orderly the chaos was. We were shown to our seats immediately and placed into the capable hands of Kharanand, who looked after us gallantly. He fought for our orders with a kitchen clearly struggling to cope with the second wave (14:30+) of lunch diners. Delivery of the starters was the only noticeable difference as it was much slower than the previous day but the overall service was no less attentive and accommodating. The only place there was any queuing of such was at Rahul’s Kulfi counter. My finicky daughter and niece were even brought special, non-spicy chicken kebabs which they happily ate with plain, white rice.
Somnath came over and visited our table. So did restaurant manager, Dipak Chetry. Come on, man, where else do you get this? And to think, because my first experience with the over-the-table barbeque concept was with AB’s, I was actually reluctant to originally visit this franchise. But Barbeque Nation has been something of a revelation. I feel takes the Indian Food dining experience to a whole new level. Add to that unbelievable value for money and you have a winner on your hands. Highly recommended.