Hidden Gem: Barjeel by the Creek

Barjeel in ShindaghaSoak up views of the Creek and enjoy authentic fare in the heritage district of the city l Image Credit: Ishita B. Saha

The crowded streets, the aroma of the spices, the scent of Arabian perfumes or attar drifting through the souq and the refreshing breeze of the Dubai Creek — each lends its own unique touch to Dubai’s Al Shindagha district. For someone looking for a change of scenery from the skyscrapers and blocks of steel and concrete that dominate new Dubai, this has to be one of the best experiences the city can offer.

Barjeel Heritage Guest House and Barjeel Al Arab Restaurant, located in the heart of Al Shindagha overlooking the Creek, are among the many venues in the area that reflect the true character of the heritage district.

The traditional wind-tower house harks back to the dominant architectural theme of the emirate in decades past. Being in the same neighbourhood as the Heritage Village and Diving Zone, Shaikh Saeed’s House, Old Souq and Meena Bazaar adds to the distinct old-world charm of Barjeel.

The restaurant serves Emirati and other Arabian food, including traditional desserts such as leqaimats and umm ali, which guests can enjoy while relaxing on the terrace majlis or the waterfront seating on the ground floor.

The guest house is perfect for those looking to experience what it’s like to live in a traditional Emirati home. Nine spacious guest rooms line the ground floor around an open courtyard and the wind towers, or barjeel, lend an air of elegance and beauty to the property.

While the architecture and decor are traditional — complete with four-poster wooden beds, hand-stitched bedspreads, wardrobes and framed heavy mirrors — the property also offers modern amenities such as complimentary Wi-Fi, satellite TV and international direct dialing phones.

Barjeel also offers a 24- hour personalised butler service — not the same as those in fancy hotels, but it promises a memorable stay for sure. Guests can enjoy a reinvigorating morning stroll by the Creek or afternoon tea in the courtyard.

While you don’t have to be a house guest to dine in the restaurant, booking is advised as it is often closed for private functions. In fact, Barjeel has been our port of call every time we have guests. The restaurant’s views from the first-floor terrace are simply stunning, while the menu has a lot of authentic Emirati dishes.

Some of the breakfast favourites are pancakes and khameer (cardamom and fennel-flavoured yeast bread) with dates, honey and homemade cheese. The restaurant also offers shorba harees (wheat soup), shorbat adas (lentil soup), salona or gravy-based dishes such as thareed (lamb or chicken stew poured over thin and crispy regag bread, machboos (spiced rice with chicken or lamb) and robyan mashwi (grilled tiger prawns).

If you are looking for camel meat, you could also order camel shawarma or the unconventional camel fajita served with Mexican tortilla bread, sour cream, tomato salsa and spicy jalapeños.

Our favourites are the grilled halloumi, fresh meze and leqaimats. Attention to detail is paramount here, as is evident from the flower-designed crockery and the steel glasses used to serve food, of which every Emirati household seems to have in the kitchen cupboard.

As Deira’s skyline is caught in the fury of the setting sun, you can enjoy the sight of lit-up abras while being transported to a different era. The gentle breeze still holds its magic, especially when it comes through from the barjeel of this heritage house.

Source: Ishita B. Saha, Special to Property Weekly
Author of IshitaUnblogged, a culinary travel blog

This section features lesser-known places and events that are delightfully distinct. It could be a quaint café or simply a charming lake. If it’s got character and brings a smile to your face, it’s a hidden gem that will find a place on this page. If you know of a hidden gem, email the Editor at enag@gulfnews.com

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