What’s it like?
As I enter through the beautiful Palace Downtown lobby and make my way along the lush, tree-lined pathway towards the pool area, I am instantly reminded of how stunning this hotel and its grounds truly are. Buhayra Lounge is situated near to the expansive pool area on the ground floor – just a short walk from the hotel’s main entrance. As we step onto the restaurant’s overwater deck to be shown to our table, we are faced with jaw-dropping views of the Burj Khalifa and Dubai Fountains (definitely worth noting if you have visitors in town and you want to impress!) It’s a pleasantly warm mid-week evening in early April when we visit, and the perfect temperature for some last minute al-fresco dining before the summer sets in. Before long, the Dubai Fountain show begins, and the restaurant fills up with diners and shisha-lovers alike looking to unwind after a long day.
What were the food highlights?
If you’re after a taste of true Middle Eastern cuisine, paired with the stunning views and a relaxed atmosphere, then Buhayra Lounge is the place for you. I’ve always felt that Arabic food can be a bit hit and miss, but this is simply not the case at this Downtown Dubai gem.
We begin with a selection of hot and cold mezze dishes; highlights include the grilled halloumi with apricot, and the truffle scented labneh. The sweetness of the apricots and the saltiness of the halloumi complement each other perfectly to create a deliciously moreish dish that I can’t help but order a second portion of – it’s too good not to! The mezze selection is served with hot fresh pitta bread, which I use to mop up every last morsel of the hummus and labneh.
For mains, I try the chargrilled spring lamb chops, which are served with coarse chickpea, summer greens, baby eggplant and pomegranate seeds. The lamb is cooked well, still pink in the centre and seared nicely on the outside, however the portion size completely overwhelms me, so make sure to go hungry! My partner has the roast chicken with crispy smashed fingerling potatoes and heirloom carrots, but other tempting options on the menu include the mix grill, barbecue jumbo prawns and the grilled filet mignon.
We finish the evening with a shared portion of milk cake – a twist on the traditional Mexican tres leches cake, but Buhayra Lounge’s offering is served with a dose of Arabian flare in the form of saffron milk. The menu also features a host of Arabic favourites including umm ali and baklawa cheesecake.
The bottom line:
Buhayra Lounge is a great spot for sampling authentic Arabic cuisine in a stunning setting. Staff are attentive throughout the evening and knowledgeable on the menu, and are extremely accommodating for my dining partner who has a severe nut allergy.
While we enjoyed the al-fresco dining option at Buhayra Lounge, the restaurant features newly-refurbished interiors which are perfect for organising a gathering during the warmer months. The restaurant is also available for larger parties, such as baby showers and birthdays.