I think it was our longing to be strolling on the streets of Brussels that led us to Le Petit Belge. Going underground you come face to face with a lit sign simply stating the name of the restaurant that lets you know you have arrived. The friendly hostess helped us choose a table, and then our also amicable waitress provided us with the menus. One of my first choices was the Lobster/crab roll, which unfortunately was unavailable. After thoroughly exploring the menu, we came to a consensus. These would be the platters we would be ordering: the Beef carpaccio, one piece of Oyster, the Scottish salmon cured in Duvel beer, the Wagyu beef and Passendaele cheese burger, the Fish and chips with a Belgian twist, and a side of Brussels sprouts with turkey bacon. As we waited for our food to arrive, I noticed that I was singing along to the music. It had been a while since I had actually enjoyed the tracks played at an eatery. Our appetizers arrived and I preferred the salmon with beer (although not too evident) with its fresh citrus bursts to the beef carpaccio. The carpaccio had nice flavors that were overshadowed because it was too heavy on the balsamic; I literally had to scrape some off to enjoy the taste of the meat. Then the main dishes were placed on our table. The Wagyu beef burger was juicy due to its doneness and the crispy fries was a great companion. However, the fish was too thick and formed sort of clumps instead of being flaky –smothering it with the tasty chunky tartar sauce rendered it edible though. Now, for the sweet ending to our last meal in Dubai before heading home. I had my eye on the Moelleux aux chocolat (that is how it’s spelt on the menu) and the Belgian chocolate mousse, and after another closer look at the dessert menu, these choices were confirmed. The presentation was pretty for both of them but it was time to dig in. The mousse was good, yet the moelleux was truly delicious. The outer cake crust and the inner gooey filling were delectable; this was the best item I had eaten at Le Petit Belge. It would have to do, until I could have my Belgian chocolate fix on the Sablon (hint: the two word name of the chocolaterie and the chocolatier are one and the same). The reality check for the time being though was that I had a plane to catch.
Marina Social – Dubai
Marina Social, a restaurant opened in Dubai by Michelin-starred chef Jason Atherton, was our choice for dinner with a view. The service was very professional and our waiter was patient with my before and after picture taking (as well as videos in the making) of a couple of our appetizers. For starters, we had the Goat’s cheese “churros” truffle honey, the Italian beef tomato, the Hand chopped beef tartare, and the Reblochon cheese sourdough pizza. The truffle honey was subtle, yet it suited the goat cheese churros well. The Italian beef tomato was whimsical; it looked like a pristine peeled tomato on the outside, but when you slice it open it is stuffed with burrata. Also, the waiter shows you the bottle of a 25 year aged balsamic then proceeds to drizzle some onto the tomato —I enjoyed the flavors. Something else I really enjoyed was the beef tartare. The waiter mixes the egg yolk jam with the other ingredients at your table, and finishes it off with dollops of horseradish cream. Everything was well-balanced and the end result was delicious. As for the pizza with Reblochon cheese and Wagyu cecina, the components were great together but the highlight was the actual dough which made a tasty crispy crust. For our main dishes, we decided to taste their seafood. We had the Chargrilled tiger prawns and the fish with black quinoa. You could tell that the tiger prawns were grilled because that was evident in the taste, and the sauce of the fish was great. However, what was done amazingly was the cuisson of the fish; it was as perfect as it could get. It was excellently moist but still firm —if I were to imagine how fish should taste like, this is it. It was now time to satisfy my sweet tooth. For desserts, we had the White chocolate cheesecake and the Chocolate marquise; they were both good but I preferred the chocolate marquise. I did like how the cheesecake was presented though, again with a playful gesture. However, I felt that the Salted was better than the Caramel in general. We ended the night with some drinks overlooking the water and the surrounding lit buildings.
Rhodes W1 – Dubai
I will most probably never say no to a Tea Time invitation; it is one of my most enjoyable experiences. I love devouring the variety of savory and sweet items, and drinking some good tea lazily for a couple of hours. We had reserved for Afternoon Tea at Rhodes W1 (one of Michelin-starred chef Gary Rhodes’ restaurants), and arriving at that beautiful brightly colored entrance told me we were in for a great time. When we were seated at our table, we were offered a fresh welcome drink. I admired the interior splattered with the color of sunshine until the waiter provided us with the menu. The edible items were listed, but we had a choice of the beverage we would sip alongside them. I am a fan of black tea, so decided on the Assam tea and I was pleasantly surprised when it was served with some milk —very scrumptiously British. Enter salty snacks…Biting into the sandwiches was like you were sinking your teeth into clouds; the bread was so fresh and fluffy. The famous cucumber sandwiches were there, and so was the salmon among other various selections, such as quail’s egg mayonnaise, coronation chicken, cheese, and tomato —everything was delicious. Now, it was time for the sweet bites. Of course there were scones! For me they are the highlight of the array of desserts (is it weird that I like my scones plain?). Also placed delicately on display were chocolate cakes, carrot cakes, crumpets, lemon cakes, profiteroles, and dundee cakes. The icing on the lemon cake elevated its taste, and the carrot cake with its cream topping was very good. My favorite, apart from the scones, was the chocolate muffin, which was so soft and decadently rich. To top it all off, the service was great. The waiter was professional with an appropriate sense of humor that kept everything light and pleasant. I absolutely adored having tea at Rhodes W1 and would definitely recommend their Afternoon Tea break.
Cocoa Room – Dubai
Due to our night flight, we failed to wake up early the first morning we arrived to Dubai, so we had to push breakfast at Cocoa Room till the next day. On the whole, it was a satisfying experience. The service was efficient, even though the place was crowded. Luckily, we were led to an available table outside. We ordered fresh orange and carrot juices, and hot drinks. My Chocolate Shot, made from Valrhona chocolate was delicious. We then ordered eggs and waffles; what better way to start your day. We had the Ancho & Cocoa Braised Short Ribs, the Corn Flakes Croquette, the Buttermilk Waffles, and the Blueberry Wholewheat Waffles. The Corn Flakes Croquette’s organic poached egg was good, and the sweet chilli herb mayo sauce gave it a lovely kick. However, the Buttermilk Waffles were the more memorable items. With a drizzle of maple syrup, they were really great —the texture was as good as the taste. If you are searching for delectable waffles for breakfast, you just found them.
Pai Thai – Dubai
We were looking for a restaurant with Thai cuisine, and since I wanted to try a new place (although the last time I came to Dubai I had really good Thai food), we chose to go to Pai Thai for dinner. The location is romantic, as it is next to the water, and apparently you can get there by boat. We decided to walk instead; the winding path leading there is dimly lit and there are trees on either side. The service started out really well as a man showed us to our table, and explained that there was a special menu and a more lit ambiance due to the celebration of the Festival of Lights. We were handed our menus, and being a fan of organization (especially when the names of the dishes are in a foreign language), I opted to list the items we wanted to order on my phone. After the effort of writing down the names in Thai and trying to pronounce them to our waitress, she found it amusing and told us that she does not know them in Thai either. I would expect the waitress to know the menu by heart, including all the names of the dishes. Also, the attitude of a waitress affects the servicing, even if she is efficient in placing the dishes on our table (although a bit less efficient in removing them). Anyway, let’s get to the food. We ordered the (I will not bother to name them in Thai) Green Papaya Salad, the Crispy Marinated Chicken Wrapped in Pandan Leaf, and the Grilled Marinated Chicken Sate as appetizers. The Green Papaya Salad was flavorful and the Chicken Sate was tender and literally melted in your mouth, and I loved the peanut sauce. However, I disliked the Crispy Marinated Chicken in the Pandan Leaf; it was more soggy than crispy. For our main courses, we then had the Braised Massaman Beef Curry, a Pad Thai with Prawns, and a bowl of Thai Coconut Rice. The Beef Curry’s sauce was really tasty, but I did not like the beef’s texture within it. As for the Pad Thai, I have had much better elsewhere. We ended the meal with one of the desserts listed under the Traditional section, as opposed to the Modern one. We had the Sweet Sticky Rice with Ripe Mango; it was fine. In general, the food was average, and I was not blown away. Dining in an intimate setting with water surrounding you is basically what Pai Thai has going for it. Although, another Thai restaurant that comes to mind has that but with better food.
Demoiselle by Galvin – Dubai
Where better to have breakfast than at the Michelin-starred Galvin brothers’ Demoiselle. Situated among many restaurants, in one of the famous areas in Dubai called City Walk, it was a great place to stop for a hearty meal with great service. First of all, one has to comment about the interior; it was so beautiful and dainty. It was a successful attempt at bringing the outdoors inside. When you first enter Demoiselle by Galvin, you are greeted by an array of freshly baked goods on display —that alone arouses your appetite. It all started with a Kouign-amann (a crusty Breton cake) and a couple of their Financiers. Needless to say that they were as good as they looked. However, the coconut financier was a tad oily in comparison to the one with the almond. For drinks we ordered the Hot chocolate and the Pour over V60 brew in the hot coffee section. Then, our Soy milk soaked muesli and Galvin cure smoked salmon & cream cheese croissant arrived. I loved the graceful presentation of the croissant platter. The croissant itself was sublime; it was flaky and light (well, as light as a croissant can be). The cured smoked salmon was amazing; its saltiness complemented the cream cheese perfectly. The cream cheese was also delicious by the way. Just so you know how much I liked the salmon, let me tell you this: I had ordered the Oeuf Florentine (with Spinach) but changed my order to the Oeuf Royale (with Salmon) to be able to eat more of that Galvin cure smoked salmon. I know I have just mentioned how good the croissant with salmon was, but something else blew my mind away even more. The next part of our breakfast consisted of the Flatbread, merguez sausage, scrambled eggs & ful medames and my beloved Oeuf Royale. That Oeuf Royale…WOW. It was really perfect; maybe the best I have ever eaten. First of all, the poached egg was fabulous; it couldn’t have been made any better —every bit of the yolk was runny and every bit of the white was firm. The salty cured smoked salmon balanced the golden goodness in a lovely way, and the Hollandaise sauce was not heavy. They all sat delicately and proudly on the wonderfully Toasted English muffin (you can have Sourdough instead if you would like). When I was done, I was so full that I could not have another bite, and so unfortunately could not taste any more of their goodies. When I travel to Dubai again, I will make sure to return and taste more of what they have to offer (even if I have to take some with me to nibble on later). Although it would be hard not to order those delicacies with the cured smoked salmon I had this time again, I would like to also try their From The Bistrot and Tea Time menus. I would also probably visit Galvin Dubai, which is the other restaurant by the Galvin brothers located nearby.
Thiptara – Dubai
If you are looking for tasty Thai cuisine, Thiptara is a good choice. I originally like the flavor profile of Thai food, and this restaurant did not disappoint. Spending most of my childhood in Nigeria, paw paw (as I call it), or what is more commonly known as papaya, is a familiar fruit that is usually eaten when ripe. I had never tasted it in a Thai salad before but I thought that the unripe green papaya was an interesting ingredient. I am a pad thai fan so I had to order it along side the other fish dishes. It was a good pad thai; everything seemed fresh and vibrant. We then ordered a variety of Thai desserts of which I liked all except the one that had a jelly-like texture in the mouth. I nearly forgot to mention the setting. With a view literally at the lake of the majestic fountains famous in Dubai, Thiptara is ideal for the romantic at heart.
Aprons and Hammers – Dubai
We weren’t armed with our aprons and hammers on this boat docked at sea. Aprons and Hammers has a regular restaurant location, but we opted to try the one on the boat to make the experience more authentic. Well, I am glad we did because the breeze coming from the sea with the serene view made it so relaxing. The service was mediocre; they never provided us with aprons and hammers, although the utensils provided later to break the crab legs with was sufficient. I just thought even if the aprons and hammers were useless, they should still be offered to all its customers (a nearby table had them), since that was what the restaurant was named. Anyway, enough with the cutlery, let’s talk about the food. We started by ordering icy strawberry drinks that were very refreshing. I also found the breaded shrimps delicious. When it came to the mains, well, the crab was better than the lobster. I felt that the lobster was way overcooked that it had become very dry ruining the taste. The crabs were good, although I believe that they could be even better. However, the setting does compensate for what is lacking in the food. All in all, it was a lunch that left me feeling calm and happy.
Indego by Vineet – Dubai
Moving to Indian cuisine, Indego by Vineet was a dinner filled with spices and aromas. The service was friendly and the atmosphere was relaxed. The food was flavorful although a tad too spicy even though we asked for the heat to be turned down a notch. I loved the mango lassi though and it helped calm down our flaming taste buds making it more possible to taste the other ingredients on the plate. The night ended with a colorful dessert platter; we ordered a selection of Indian desserts. Honestly, I disliked the flavor profile of most of them, but then again this is a matter of taste and preference. Anyway, this ends here. Let’s see where the next blog post takes us!
STAY by Yannick Alleno – Dubai
Not too far off from local is STAY by Yannick Alleno situated in a fancy hotel on the palm in Dubai. Although the dishes were straightforward when it came to ingredients, the presentation was dainty and appetizing. This time the dinner was a la carte as opposed to a set menu but I loved that we still got the element of surprise with amuse-bouches popping up in between the food we ordered. Our choices were on the fishy side and all was delicious, including the beautifully crafted crab salad.
When it was time for the dessert, it was a unique experience. The pastry chef was actually with us in the dining room and we could walk over to take a look at his sweets. We chose our desserts and returned to our seats; the chocolate souffle was freshly prepared on the spot. He also sent us little delicacies to savor and satisfy our sweet tooth. Another enjoyable experience to further enhance this dinner was when we were invited to see the chef and kitchen. We were even given a quince juice drink that he had been preparing through a complex process which he described to us. We really left the restaurant with elevated moods and although it might sound cheesy, the name STAY says it all.