After oil and money there have probably been more words written in Kuwait about food than written about anything else. Sure, food sustains life in the same way that oil sustains Kuwait - but we’re only really interested when we come across somewhere, and also someone, that is really doing something a little bit special. That’s where The Baking Tray and Naser Al Mukhaizeem come in.
It’s not new, it’s been open since the end of 2008, but the thing about it is - it’s still good. We we’ve been to so many great places soon after they’ve opened, and then returned over a period of months to witness them slide into mediocrity. Not The Baking Tray. How’s that? Ask Naser…
“I’ve seen the same as you’ve seen at other places, and when the concept of BT was discussed I was determined that we’d not let our standards slip”.
He’s a trained chef, and has plenty of experience in the food and hospitality business. He’s got a pretty good idea how to do things right.
The reasons for BT’s initial success are numerous - but perhaps key amongst them is that he listened to what the market wanted. “I had so many people coming to me and telling me that out of all the cafes, all the sandwich bars, and the pizza places, there wasn’t something that really suited them and gave them what they want”, he explained.
These disgruntled diners now make up the bulk of The Baking Tray’s clientele. Young, savvy, and free to make a choice, they are now satisfied diners.
Naser is quick to address that he doesn’t feel BT is at all ‘high-end’ in the food stakes. In a sense we agree, but we also feel he does himself and BT a dis-service. In terms of the architecture of the place it ranks up amongst the very highest in Kuwait - contemporary and relaxed. The food isn’t served on silver platters, nor is it ‘gourmet’ - it’s served as it comes and in a very relaxed ‘homestyle’ fashion. Fancy dinner for six? Go elsewhere. Casual meal amongst friends? There’s nowhere better.
“We’re aiming at those who just want a good pizza, or a couple of sandwiches and a salad”, Naser says as he talks about BT’s home delivery service. “I wanted to provide people with the gaps that other restaurants were ignoring - a simple omelette, a great croissant”. In fact it was through their croissants that we were first introduced to The Baking Tray.
Naser’s regular mention of pizzas is perhaps a little surprising. Across BT’s menu they play a relatively small role. So, what’s with all the talk of pizzas? It’s his newest venture.
A simple pizza. A pizza that’s going to fill the gaps that established companies are missing. Again, Naser has listened to his customers, and again there’s no doubt he’s come up with the right mix to satisfy.
Reinventing the pizza? Hardly - it’s an impossible task. Restoring it to the purity and the high regard that this humble food once had - absolutely.
Hungry yet? You’ll find The Baking Tray at Jaber Al Mubarak Street, Mishal Tower next to Dasman Complex.
First published in Men's Passion issue #27 December-January 2010-11