It’s barely a month old, but Bait Al Luban is frequently full of customers in search of authentic Omani food, finds Deeba Hasan
While I was thinking of a suitable restaurant to review, a friend of mine recommended Bait Al Luban, a new, slightly upmarket but authentic Omani restaurant located at Muttrah Corniche, just across from the fish souk.
I visited on a pleasant Saturday with the same friend who had recommended the restaurant, along with two American tourists who were visiting Oman for the first time and had just flown in that day.
The restaurant wasn’t immediately obvious and when I eventually found it I tried the front entrance, only to discover it was not yet completed. Everyone seemed to be using the side door and so I took the stairs to the second floor.
Once inside, I asked for a table for four, but was informed by the manager that we would have to wait for a minimum of half an hour if we wanted a majlis (a traditional seating and dining area). The outside tables on the balcony with a beautiful view of the Corniche were also fully booked.
Luckily, we weren’t that picky and said we were fine to be seated anywhere. The waiters quickly arranged a table and handed us some menus.
While browsing the menus, my friend made some recommendations because, although he is American, he has been in Oman for the past six years and has learnt a lot about the local cuisine and culture. Following his advice, we ordered harees dijaj, makbus dijaj and shuwa, along with stuffed chicken breast from their “modern kitchen” section.
After we had ordered, I had a chance to give the restaurant a proper once-over. I must say the owner has put in a lot of effort to give Bait Al Luban an authentic look and feel. The background music is soft, slow and traditional, the staff uniforms are inspired by the Omani dishdasha and the majlis area for dining is a brilliant idea. The building itself is an old one and has only recently been renovated, which further adds to the feeling of authenticity.
We were all deep in conversation, which meant that we didn’t initially realise that the food was taking quite a while to arrive.
However, when it did, everything looked pleasant, although I wouldn’t go as far to say the presentation was fantastic – they probably could’ve done a bit better here.
We shared the dishes between us and the harees (a sort of chicken porridge) was delicious, but the date chutney that surrounded it had some spices that didn’t go hand in hand with the other flavours.
The stuffed chicken breast was a little chewy, but still flavoursome and I loved the potato pancakes that were served with it. Our two tourist friends also seemed to be enjoying the chicken and the shuwa with rice.
Open for just over a month, the restaurrant was packed with Omani diners and a smattering of tourists and expats.
We wanted to order dessert, but it was not until sometime after we had finished our mains that the waiters arrived to take our plates and they didn’t really ask us if we wanted anything else. Eventually, we just got up, paid and left.
I honestly believe Bait Al Luban has tremendous potential as a high-quality Omani restaurant and I’d like to think that the slight issues we encountered were merely teething troubles that will be addressed as the establishment matures.
Judging from the volume of customers, it’s already a firm favourite for many, so a word to the wise would be to book in advance (especially if you want a coveted outside table or the majlis) if you plan to visit at the weekend.
Fine food, but service needs to catch up
Bait Al Luban
Opening Hours: Open daily 12pm to 3pm for lunch and 7pm to 11pm for dinner
Lunch for four: RO25