Comfort food is universally well-loved, with cultures and nationalities the world over offering up various versions of their own varieties for our dining pleasure. One such spot to call Muscat home is Bakery & BBQ – a local eatery serving up some of the best on-the-spot comfort classics, made fresh. With an already-established outlet in the Al-Qurum Park area, the brand is also soon set to open up near Al Mouj.
Dishing out globally-inspired cuisine with Lebanese roots, its brand is unique to the Sultanate and prides itself on the quality of its imported ingredients. Think chocolate from France for their sinful dessert crêpes, secret spice mixtures brought straight from Lebanon, and only the freshest cuts of New Zealand beef for their shawarmas, burgers and mixed grills.
Looking for a brief respite from the hordes of National Day revellers, we make our way from the beachfront in Qurum and grab a spot here to wait out the bumper-to-bumper traffic jam, over a hot meal. Set back from the main road, it’s the perfect peaceful locale and we quickly follow our noses as the smell of chicken and beef grilling over hot charcoal wafts out the restaurant door from the open-plan kitchen. Passers-by and diners on the terrace can watch as dishes are prepared fresh-to-order with nothing to hide.
It’s still quiet as we opt to dine indoors, and we make our way to a booth at the back of the cosy interior. Decked out in wood and brick décor with splashes of blue upholstery, the ambience evokes that of your local neighbourhood diner and the service is prompt and smiling.
We start with an order of classic fattoush and tabbouleh with a side of hummus and a heaping platter of their homemade bread, fresh out of their brick oven. Pillowy-soft and steamy on the inside as we tear it apart with those crispy edges we love, it’s the perfect vehicle for dipping in the creamy hummus and balances nicely with the crisp freshness of the fattoush and its lemon-and-oil-based vinaigrette and slightly-sweet side of pomegranate molasses. No wilted run-of-the-mill parsley or veggies here – all are fresh and packed with nutrients and flavour. It’s a great start and sets the tone for the rest of the meal.
Starters out of the way, we eye up some of the restaurant’s signature dishes, opting for a portion of their Italian-inspired goat cheese pesto and sujuk pizzas. With a light, thin-crust on both and that crispy brick-oven-baked edge, it’s clear that Bakery & BBQ doesn’t stint when it comes to living up to their name. The goat cheese is baked to perfection atop a light spread of homemade basil pesto, topped with sundried tomatoes and fresh rocket salad. The tangy bite of the goat’s cheese and the herbaceous saltiness of the pesto are offset nicely by the sweetness of the slivers of sundried tomato while the whole pie evokes a well-balanced flavour.
The sujuk pizza is also a standout. With familiar flavours you’d typically find on a shawarma, grilled morsels of ground sujuk sausage are topped with fresh slices of locally-grown Omani tomatoes, pickles and drizzled in Bakery & BBQ’s signature garlic sauce. Let’s just say one slice won’t be enough.
Worth noting is the restaurant’s attention to detail when it comes to inclusivity among any dietary preferences or restrictions of its customers. Their signature house-made garlic and spicy sauces don’t contain any dairy or eggs for those with food allergies or sensitivities, and their signature halloumi shawarma is a hearty option for the vegetarian crowd craving something equally substantial.
Fat stacks of fresh halloumi cheese are layered with fresh capsicums and roasted to golden perfection on a vertical shawarama spit, then sliced and served in a freshly-made pitta wrap slathered with pesto, fresh herbs, and olives. The flavours work surprisingly well together and it’s one of those grab-to-go dishes that you can sit and savour or, eat on the fly.
Fit to burst, we still can’t say no to an order of their mixed grill platter. The portion is surprisingly reasonable – just enough for two people without anything going to waste – and we tuck into sumptuous morsels of steak, chicken, and delicately-spiced kofta all brimming with an extra depth of flavour thanks to the charcoal grill. Wrapped in a piece of homemade bread with a slathering of their addictive garlic and spicy sauces and some crispy fries to boot and we’re happy (albeit full) campers.
Finally, saving room for dessert we have just enough room left for something sweet, and order their sinfully decadent chocolate and banana pancake drenched in melted chocolate and topped with pieces of Kit Kat candy bar…and one strawberry hazelnut crêpe which is a Nutella-lover’s dream.
Next time you’re out for a walk along the beach or a jaunt in the park in Al-Qurum and feeling peckish, seek out this hidden gem of a restaurant. Your taste-buds won’t be disappointed.
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