A cozy little nook in JLT serving Levantine cuisine…

“When people come here, they say it feels like their mother’s home.”

That’s how chef Salam Dakkak describes her restaurant, a little haven in JLT serving up the flavours of the Levant.

Inspired by her late mother’s cooking, Salam decided to name the restaurant in her honour (‘bait’ means ‘home’ in Arabic, so the name translates to ‘Maryam’s home’).

It really does feel like you’re stepping into a family dining room. There are cookbooks and ornaments lining the shelves, and a vintage sewing machine takes pride of place in the front window. Every item in the restaurant, from the lace curtains to the plates, belonged to Maryam.

It’s these personal touches that make Bait Maryam so special. As you sit down, you’ll be offered a welcome drink of sweet rose water. Don’t be surprised if Salam comes over to introduce herself at this point – and feel free to call her “Mum”.

You won’t find anything fancy or expensive on the menu, but even the most humble-sounding dishes shouldn’t be overlooked – like the wonderfully simple pasta and yoghurt (Dhs22), mopped up with pita bread straight from the oven. This must be the ultimate Middle Eastern comfort food.

When it comes to ordering mains, try not to head straight for the shish tawook – we promise you’ll be rewarded. The kafta with tahini sauce (Dhs42) was something of a revelation, a gorgeous marriage of spiced meat patties, potatoes, and creamy garlic.

We also loved Maryam’s Fatet Musakhan (Dhs33), a special recipe inspired by Palestinian sumac chicken. Another crowd-pleaser was Maryam’s kabab (Dhs49) – mouth-watering grilled lamb stuffed with cheese and pistachios, paired with hand-cut potato fries. All of the ingredients are sourced from local markets, which means everything is fresh – you won’t find any frozen vegetables around here.

Save room for dessert, because Bait Maryam’s kanafa is to die for – perfectly soft, crumbly, and with the lightest hint of rose syrup. Also, be sure to stick around for Salam’s date cookies, which are thoughtfully offered to guests at the end of the meal.

This truly is food that will fill your stomach and warm your heart. There’s no place like home, indeed.

Cluster D, JLT, Dubai, daily 10am to 11pm. Tel: (04) 248 1995. Metro: Jumeirah Lakes Towers. @baitmaryam

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