A Buddha what you fancy

Buddha Bar, 674 Azadliq Square, Baku , 

Tel. +994 12 404 82 09          www.buddhabar-baku.az

Am I taking my headline puns too far? Personally, I blame my friend Laura who started it all by posting a typically Bakunese shot on Facebook, a Lada at the market, full to the brim with chicken carcasses and entitling it ‘A Lada chickens’. The lovely husband too, gets his fair share of blame. A quietly funny type and witty lateral thinker, these puns just slip off his lips like nobody’s business. But yes, the new Buddha Bar is indeed a bit of what I fancy. Actually, it’s a lot of what I fancy. I really enjoyed my dinner there and here’s what it was all about.

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Quite a few of us expats have been pretty excited in anticipation of the Buddha Bar opening in Baku. I think this may be because the brand stands for cosmopolitan sophistication, for a taste of supercharged international professionalism in terms of gastronomy and entertainment. It’s kind of sexy and cool and happening. It’s no surprise then that this franchise, one of over 25 globally, has been taken up by the Saffron Hospitality Group, the same people who have brought us Evde, Masu, Pasifico, Harbour, Movida and a great collection of other superior Baku restaurants.

Inside the Buddha Bar
Inside the Buddha Bar (photo darker than in reality)

You can’t miss the Baku Buddha Bar, its grand red pergola is instantly visible on the sea facing Neftchilar side of the Marriott Hotel. Inside it’s sumptuously oriental in rich warm colours with the Buddha Bar’s signature Buddha statues and dragon pictures setting the tone. The background music, which Buddha Bar refer to as a ‘subtle mixture of captivating Electro-Ethnic rhythms and tribal sounds’, together with the décor and the muted lighting, give it a chic and serene ambience. It’s all darkly exotic and instantly relaxing, whether in the bar upstairs or the restaurant downstairs.

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Staff are instrumental in creating this sense of well-being, each and every one, from the door person to our waiter, was superbly well trained and on the ball. Impressive! And the food, based on pacific rim cuisine, was absolutely glorious too, I must say. We had a shared papaya salad to start with, a perennial favourite of mine, and although I wasn’t quite sure whether there was actually any papaya in it, it was crisp, spicy and refreshing . As a main course, the lovely husband had sea bass in a creamy ginger sauce with seasonal wok fried vegetables and I had a starter portion of their signature spicy tuna tartar with avocado and grapefruit. I find it quite difficult to express just how delicious these were; I’m still having cravings for that sea bass, the flavor was so exquisite. In for a penny, in for a pound, no way were we going to miss out on dessert in a restaurant with food of that caliber! A Trio of Crèmes Brûlées, one coffee flavoured, one chocolate and one a classic vanilla were to die for, crispy crackly on top and creamy firm inside. Heaven! We paid AZN91.35 including a small bottle of water, a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, one of Heineken, an Americano coffee and a 5% service charge. While this might be a more expensive type of evening out, the quality of the food and service along with the all round sophistication and polish of the place make it good value for money.

Papaya Salad
Papaya Salad
Spicy Tuna Tartar
Spicy Tuna Tartar
Seabass in creamy ginger sauce
Seabass in creamy ginger sauce

Throw on your glad rags and go there on a date, with friends or with business associates, whether for drinks in the bar or for a meal. Although I have heard mixed reports from others, if your evening there is anything like as good as mine, you won’t regret the cost. Buddha means The Enlightened One and the Buddha Bar gastronomically certainly lives up to its name.

Trio of Cremes Brûlées
Trio of Cremes Brûlées
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Tiles above the black urinals. Trendy stuff!