Classic cuisine in a lavish setting welcomes Laura Morris to BeBabel.
BeBabel is a hidden gem tucked away towards the rear of The St. Regis Doha. As you wind around the corner, the elegance of this chic hideaway immediately becomes apparent with a cool and modern design offering a wide selection of Lebanese cuisine and promising a unique dining experience for all.
On entering the restaurant, the blend of traditional design and modern style is striking. Intricate mosaic flooring, paired with industrial cement pillars, creates a stunning visual contrast and draws your eye towards a large lounge area, encased entirely in glass. Diners can also sit on the terrace, which can be enjoyed the whole year as it has a retractable ceiling and windows that can be left open or closed based on the weather. In the centre, a striking art installation of huge grey and black stones balancing serves almost as a meditative tool to focus the mind and bring you fully into the present moment. Walls adorned with panels of brightly coloured canvas artwork add considered pops of colour to the otherwise minimalist décor.
We are seated in the main part of the restaurant, a spot that’s almost like a hall of mirrors, with reflective surfaces making the large open space feel even more lavish. The upbeat Arabic jazz in the background creates a warm and inviting atmosphere, setting the stage for an exciting culinary journey. Our friendly host talks us through the extensive menu and we decide on a variety of options, keen to sample a range of flavours.
Within only a few short moments, our table is filled with a decadent array of fare for us to tuck into. The variety of cold mezze dishes includes the time-honoured and much-loved Arabic dish, hummus. A favourite for so many, and BeBabel certainly show they can deliver. This hummus is not only one of the smoothest and creamiest I have sampled, but is also presented so elegantly, in a ring with chickpeas filling the centre. The Mafroukit Tajen too comes as a ring, this time with a welcome fresh grapefruit centre. A divine mixture of tahini, thyme, raisins and onions together with a nut medley of almonds and pistachios provides a pleasant textural contrast. These dishes, combined with the warm and homely pitta bread create a perfect mix. Another delight, the Fattoush Salad is both crisp and refreshing. Topped with a juicy, sweet balsamic dressing, pomegranate arils, coriander, mint, lettuce and spring onion, it is a fragrant and delightfully flavourful salad and a perfect accompaniment to this first round of dishes.
Soon, the selection of hot mezze arrives. We tuck into the Cherry Kebab which features sharp cherry compote layered on top of meat kebabs, an accompaniment to the last of the pitta. My eyes are drawn instantly to a pile of small, crispy bites presented like a volcano; I quickly discover these to be boneless chicken wings. A perfectly balanced mix of soft chicken and crispy coating, dressed with chives, honey sauce and pomegranate molasses. The tangy fruity burst is a delightful surprise and the generous helping makes it easy to share. Another star in this course has to be the Ravioli Shish Barak. This elegant dish has floating parcels of delicate pasta ravioli oozing with a rich cheese flavour, each filled with soft mincemeat and with a peppering of paprika adding rich colour and a light spice: a delicious and indulgent dish which we enjoy to the last bite!
After a much-needed pause and a cold beverage, we are ready for our main courses. The Freekeh Chicken is a charming and hearty dish that features tender chicken served on a bed of nutty barley, accompanied by a selection of grilled vegetables. Ouzi Lamb is paired with Oriental rice. Domed and inviting, with subtle flavours, this dish is perfectly balanced. The slow-cooked lamb which melts in the mouth, is enveloped in a rich and creamy gravy. Add to this mix a nut medley that includes peanuts, cashews and pistachios and you have a dish that represents traditional Lebanese flavours and cooking techniques beautifully.
Described by our host as Karabij ‘with a twist’, BeBabel’s signature dessert is the perfect end to our culinary journey. A fusion of old and new recipes presented like a piece of fine art, the sweet course features a rectangular bed of pistachio crumb layered with a generous helping of biscuit pieces drizzled with fine white chocolate. But the goodness doesn’t stop there.
On top, sit elegantly decorated scoops of thick ice-cream that resemble a rose petal both in shape and taste. One spoonful of this, coupled with a sample of the finely spun cotton candy cloud that sits upon it, is enough to satisfy even those with the sweetest of teeth! A pure delight, the subtle hint of rose perfectly complements the rich warm flavours of the crumb, making it an unforgettable end to our feast.
Our experience at BeBabel has been quite exceptional, the combination of traditional and modern design, outstanding service, and utterly delicious food make it a standout visit. The extensive menu caters to all tastes, with a focus on fusing traditional Lebanese cuisine with new techniques and a chic style. BeBabel is a must-visit destination for anyone looking for their next memorable dining experience.