Bawabat Baghdad is the second of two newly opened Iraqi restaurants on Jumeirah Road, the other being Al Bait Baghdadi (which I reviewed a fortnight ago). If I’m not mistaken, this brings to FIVE the number of Iraqi restaurants on the Jumeirah strip – how odd. The others are Samad Al Iraqi, Kabab Erbil Iraqi and Masgouf of London – all heavy weights. Having dined at all five, I can say with some conviction – Bawabat Baghdad is my new favourite….by far. Located in a standalone, purpose-built building opposite Mister Baker, it boasts a two-story indoor, as well as outdoor dining and lounging areas – all tastefully decorated.
The food at Bawabat Baghdad is insanely good. The first time my food buddies, Sheikh Mansoor, Soheil and I visited we had an assortment of mezza (which included their fantastic lentil soup) and the best Masgûf I have had outside Iraq. If you follow my blog, you will know that I am neither an expert of, nor a stranger to, Iraqi cuisine. I like to think I know good Masgûf when I eat it.
Even so, we went back again this week to make sure it wasn’t a fluke, and also to try some of their kababs and quzi, specifically their Kurdish (minced) Kabab and what turned out to be a deliriously delicious Quzi Sham.
If anything, the Masgûf was even better this time – perfectly cooked with a smoky, crunchy outer crust and a succulent interior. I did not need to add anything to my fish, not even lime – it was so well seasoned…something the kababs could have used a little more of.
Service at Bawabat Baghdad is exemplary. On both occasions we were looked after by two of their bubbly young supervisors, Yemen and Saad – superstars both. They were particularly helpful with the mezza, remembering what we liked from the first time and replacing what we didn’t with what they thought we would. I appreciated that they didn’t try to ‘push’ us to order a larger than required fish, something I have taken issue with other restaurants over. If anything, on our second visit, Yemen actually downsized the fish we ordered, reminding us that we had quzi and kabab coming too. That’s how you build trust.
I love the sweet, dark tea they serve – and the guy in traditional dress with the big manly-man moustache who serves it – he wouldn’t stop talking to us in gruff Arabic even though he knew we didn’t speak any. This is one of those places which grows on you the more you visit it. It makes you feel good. It’s one of those places I would feel as comfortable bringing my wife and kids to as much as my blogger buddies as much my local friends – basically any / everyone. It is as deserving of the 5/5 I am giving it as well as the detour I recommend you take for it.
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Xerxes (pronounced Zûrk’seez) physically dines at, or orders from, each and every venue he reviews. He pays in full for whatever he and his companions eat, drink, take away or occasionally throw at each other. Xerxes accepts no money, gifts, discounts or free meals in return for reviews or favouritism. What you have read was NOT influenced in any way by the venue. Join his culinary journey on Instagram: @ravenousxerxes or reach out to him via email on firstname.lastname@example.org.