BAYTI…Evolutionary Arabic Cooking

Bayti restaurant has fast become a foodie favourite with diners who love Middle Eastern flavours and innovative dishes. The venue is cool and chic, and the man behind the menu, Sous chef Anthony Gomes, is breaking culinary boundaries with his team. FACT learns more…

The second we found out that one of the menu items we’ll be trying at Bayti is Chocolate Shawarma (yes, you heard right!) we were excited, intrigued, and really hyped up to be eating at the table of Chef Anthony Gomes and his team. We had barely sat down with our glass of Arabic Champagne (it’s exquisite), and the question popped up – “So, Chef, what is Chocolate Shawarma?” “It was the GM’s idea,” Chef Anthony smiles. “He loves desserts and he always wants us to be innovative and make what you might think is impossible, possible. “He’ll have an idea, and he’ll support us through it. With the Chocolate Shawarma, you just really have to try it to know exactly what it is and how it tastes,” he says.

Bayti as a venue is beautiful with a trendy and super chic ambience, successfully achieved through pop-art-style décor and quirky interiors like mismatched chairs and colourful wall murals. Chef Anthony brings to Bayti a wealth of experience. His professional cooking career started at the Taj Goa hotel, in India, where three years gained him knowledge and practical experience in world cuisines such as Mediterranean, Italian, French, Indian and Lebanese. His multi-cuisine skills then took Chef Anthony to work onboard a Florida cruise line for six years.

But, before all of this came to pass, Chef Anthony admits that his passion for cooking was alive since he childhood. “I loved watching cooking shows when I was young and I used to experiment at home,” he recalls. “My mum was very supportive and she tasted all the dishes I prepared. “She always said ‘just go for it! Do what you heart feels like.’ She always had my back and is definitely my biggest inspiration.” We notice Chef Anthony’s passion for Middle Eastern cuisine when the food starts coming out to the table. First up is Baba Ganoush – the eggplant is fresh and tasty, served with thin Arabic bread, this is actually a delightfully light starter.

Next up is Chicken Liver, which is traditionally eaten for breakfast in Bahrain. The dish is deliciously tangy, and we can taste the mix of onions, garlic and lemon juice, which makes our taste buds pop with joy. Up until now, both presentation and taste has been great. So, which is more important for Chef Anthony? “For me the taste of the food is most important,” he says. “My logic behind this is that when we present the dish to the guest, the appearance makes a first impression, and so, yes, it looks good. But, when they take a bite and if it doesn’t taste good, then the whole creation of the dish is not worth it,” he explains.

We move onto Gourmet Shawarma – a concept dish where diners can choose everything from their desired bread, choice of meat, and flavour of sauce. It’s presented on a wooden serving dish with pickles and tahine sauce, and let us tell you, it definitely tastes as good as it looks! Our favourite dish that Chef Anthony prepared was Pan-Seared Safi with sweet caramelised rice. The fish was tender and the taste of cardamom was a welcome delight.

For dessert we opted for the crunchy Baklava and (*drum roll please), the elusive Chocolate Shawarma. Ok, imagine… every component on this dish was a replacement of what we were served on the Gourmet Shawarma – there was the wrap filled with Oreo and ice-cream, and on the sides it was pineapple chips and chocolate sauce. This was all dusted with cinnamon. One word: YUMMY. Chef Anthony’s right, you’ve got to try it for yourself. What we loved about Bayti is the creative approach to Arabic food. It’s fun, full of flavour and very tasty.

GO: Call Bayti on 1722 9778 for reservations and more information.