Category Archives: Restaurant Review

Noire: dining in the dark! at Fairmont Dubai

I have recently dined at Noire, a new concept restaurant at The Fairmont Hotel Sheik Zayed Road.

As the website states ”from pitch-black settings, night vision equipped waiters or the thrill of experiencing 5-star gourmet cuisine sight unseen, Noire brings you a culinary adventure unlike anything else in town and one of the top experiences in Dubai”, the restaurant offers a very peculiar dining experience.

Noire Dubai

The original idea came to Mr. Edouard De Broglie, an entrepreneur who founded an ethic investment company where 50% of the staff were people with vision impairment. The main goal is to put people in a position to understand other people’s life experience by “putting yourself in the others shoes to better understand” and possibly to raise some funds for charitable organizations.

Even though it lasts just the time of a dinner, it proved to be very touching and instructive.

The dinner takes place in the dark. A pitch black where you cannot see anything apart the red dot on the infrared googles used by the waiters. Listen to the noises in the dark, touch to understand and learn what you have on the table or in the plate, recognize the scents and discover the taste of the proposed foods. Yes, because the chef won’t tell you what you are eating until the dinner is over and you have tried to guess the various ingredients.

We can summarize the dinner as “an experience to learn to see beyond the appearance“.

You will be surprised in discovering that your brain might be deceived by your taste buds if not supported by your eyes. And you will ended up feeling different textures and aromas than the one you would have expected by looking at the plate.

We arrived at Fairmont Hotel by metro, the nearest station is World Trade Center few meters from the hotel, and went to the 9th floor where the restaurant is located. We got lost since there was no one and couldn’t find anything looking like a restaurant. We finally understood that the restaurant is adjacent to the shisha cafe available on the terrace that serves the purpose of meeting points for the restaurant guests.

We were offered a welcome drink and then had to wait some 40 minutes!! before being allowed to enter the restaurant.

The waiters are very well trained and after having escorted us to our table, they helped us understanding what was on the table: on the right spoons and two glasses, on the left forks and bread, in the center the napkin.

After few minutes the appetizer was served. It is difficult to dig into the meal without seeing anything, but not impossible after some practice. After few failures, I eventually managed to get a full spoon of food and bring it to the mouth.

Something fried was tasting like fish. There was salad. Maybe berries and fois gras. It was a continue murmuring and mumbling “taste like fish”, “mine got hazelnuts”, “s..t I spilled the wine”. It is difficult to talk to your partner because you don’t what they are doing, if they understand you, how far are they.

In the main course I found some beef, maybe cabbage, some kind of fish and potatoes. The dessert was formed by a cake, an ice cream and something like a pudding. Soft and creamy one bite and poppy and crunchy the other one.

We all felt the burning taste of chilly since there were many “oh gosh it’s spicy!!”. In reality was pepper.

I was there celebrating my birthday and I was amazingly celebrated by the staff  that invited all the guests to sing for me. It was really a great sensation because almost everybody sang. Something I doubt would have been happened if with the lights were on.

Once we were safely guided outside, we found the chef waiting for us with a display of the food we had.

Dinner at Noire Fairmont Dubai

Left: starterLeft: starter with battered oysters, salad, strawberries, foie gras, avocado and hazelnut. Center: main course with bbq eel, wagyu beef, salad, fries and caw flower. Left: dessert with panna cotta, red velvet cake and oreo ice cream and pepper.

Advertisements

Mythos Kouzina & Grill – JLT Cluster P – Dubai

I have recently visited Mythos, a new licensed Greek restaurant that recently opened in JLT, cluster P at Armada Blue Bay hotel.

If you want to reach the restaurant by car, be ready to get a headache. Find parking in JLT might be challenging and most of the time it is time limited: 3 hours free parking and then you have to leave. The hotel valet parking charges you 50 AED, hence better to get a taxi or the metro and walk a bit.

Once you enter the hotel, get the elevator and go to the basement. You have to walk in the parking and then in a narrow corridor appositely built that escorts you to the restaurant.

We booked our table well in advance since a friend recommended us to do so, but we found the 6 of us squeezed in a table for 4!! However, we managed to sit and order. With great surprise we discovered that the Greek beer and house wines were unavailable (at 8pm on a Thursday night!!!) so we ended up drinking Belgian beer at the Greek restaurant.

We ordered some appetizers like the grilled octopus and calamari. We ordered 4 appetizers and we got 3 at the same time and the 4th one 10 minutes later!!

Note that the restaurant provides you with some fresh bread and olives once you place your order but you have to pay 5 AED extra if you want the famous Greek pita bread.

The octopus was very minimal and definitely not worth 72 AED.

Grilled Octopus at Mythos

As main I ordered a pork souvlaki, one of the favorite meals I had while in Cyprus. Unfortunately, I received an almost cold meal meaning that either the souvlaki was cooked in advance and reheated later or that was cooked on the spot but then left in the plate for quite a long time before reaching our table. The fries were alright and the pork skewers came with tatziki sauce, onions and pita bread.

Pork Souvlaki at Mythos

The service wasn’t really the best. Many staff members seemed quite confused, especially those taking our order. Moreover, we waited 20 minutes and we had to ask to 5 different people before getting the bill.

The restaurant has good potentials but needs some improvements.

Restaurant Review: BOCA, DIFC – Dubai

Last Thursday I have enjoyed a Sangria night at Boca restaurant in DIFC with some colleagues. The place is nice and well decorated and was really alive when we entered at 7.30 pm, straight after work. There was nice ambient music that wasn’t too aloud and allowed us to talk in peace.

We were 4 people and we ordered 2 jugs of Sangria. The staff, very attentive and polite, informed us about a promotion consisting in a jug of sangria and 10 pintxo for just 200 AED. It seemed a good deal and we ordered the two sets because we were famished.

Pintxo at Boca Restaurant DIFC

The octopus skewer was superb. The photo is a bit blurry since it was taken after the second jug of Sangria

The sangria came first and we had a a first glass to start the party. It was alright, but not really the best in town. It was mostly ice cubes and it had just a slice of lemon and few slices of apples in it. The fruity taste was provided by what seemed to us, bottled juice.

We however enjoyed it and waited the Pintxo to satisfy our appetite. When the first tray came, we were surprised to see that there were only 2 portions available because we ordered only 2 jugs of sangria. Not really a delicate touch I would have preferred smaller portions but enough for 4 people to taste each and every Pitxo served, as many competitors do. When we ordered 2 additional jugs, the waitress informed us that the promotion was over and the sangria was going to be served alone.

Pintxo at Boca 1

The Pintxo served were good but we had only 2 bites for 4 people. We were famished, that’s why the tray is almost empty.

Bar review: Caffe Nero, Almas Tower, JLT – Dubai

I needed to deposit some cash I had at home and was looking for the nearest Emirates NBD ATM machine. Luckily enough, I found one very close to where I was: Almas Tower in JLT. I know Almas tower and remembered that at the ground floor, very close to the ATM machines there is a Cafe Nero bar. I was slightly hungry and decided to stop at the cafe to enjoy a light meal.

Among the various sandwiches, salads and croissants available, I chose a turkey ham with cheese and mustard toast that looked light and tasty. I asked the waiter to make it warm and sat at my table.

The staff is very polite and attentive and the bar is one of the cleanest I have ever seen in Dubai, with a person continuously dusting and mopping the floor and cleaning tables and chairs. Few minutes later my toast came and was surprised in noticing the huge amount of melted cheese that was leaking from the sides of the supposedly-italian-panino.

I needed to cut it in half to handle it and the quantity of melted cheese coming out was ridiculously huge.

Cafe Nero Sandwich

Cafe Nero Turkey and Cheese Sandwich is really good even though the amount of mustard cheese is excessive.

The taste was great. The mustard rich cheese was really yummy and perfectly combined with the turkey ham and the crunchy toasted bread. The only problem is that I had to eat the sandwich and then to clean the plate from the abnormal quantity of cheese that was left.

If you have a cheese passion, this is the right sandwich for you.

Restaurant Review: Al Forno, Yas Mall – Abu Dhabi

I often travel to Abu Dhabi for work. Last time I had to join our Project team in Yas Island and took the opportunity to visit the brand new Yas Mall recently inaugurated in Yas Island.

The Mall is huge and nice, with a lot of shops and brands available. I was there just for lunch and therefore I walked straight until I found the right restaurant where to have a light but tasty meal. I passed by the common Paul, Le Pain Quotidian, Giraffe and other well known chains. I found also many unknown (at least to me) restaurants of different origin: Indians, Asian and Italians. Among those, I opted for Al Forno, an Italian restaurant that looked authentic, the name of which means ‘by the oven’.

With red brick walls, tables with a red and white table cloths and Italian traditional music, it looked like an Italian ‘Trattoria’, a place in where the food is usually home-made with high quality ingredients and usually cheaper that other restaurants.

Al Forno Restaurant Yas Mall

Al Forno restaurant looks really like an Italian ‘trattoria’.

The service was excellent. I was welcomed in a very polite way and the staff members were very attentive and ready to assist. I had a nice ‘focaccia’ as complimentary starter and then I opted for a cheese bread and hammour fillet with lemon and pesto sauce. I was curious to see if the place was a real Italian restaurant or one of those looking-like-Italian restaurant that serves meals that in Italy do not even exist.

Focaccia is a traditional dish from Genoa.

Cheese bread at Alforno - Yas Mall - Abu Dhabi

Cheese bread at Alforno – Yas Mall – Abu Dhabi

The focaccia they brought as complimentary appetizer, exceeded my expectations. It was  really similar to the original one and I have enjoyed it very much. It comes with olive oil and balsamic, a thing that in Italy  you will not find since it is oily enough to be perfect to be eaten alone.

The cheese bread was actually a small pizza with cheese. The dough was incredibly good and perfectly cooked. Again I was really positively surprised by the good quality and taste of the food.

However, focaccia and pizza might be very simple to make. You just need some good quality flour (and let me say that here in the Emirates the average flour quality is not that great), water (the dough quality is indeed affected by the water quality) and know some tricks in mixing the ingredients.

A different story is the main course that needs some specific preparation and ability. I was anxious to try the hammour with lemon and pesto sauce and roasted potatoes I have ordered, because it could have been the celebration of a great restaurant or another big disappointment.

The plate was very well presented and the food was of a good quality. The hammour was not the top quality selection and honestly I was expecting something more tender and juicy, but the taste and consistency were alright given the price paid for the meal.

Hammour fillet at Alforno - Yas Mall - Abu Dhabi

Hammour fillet at Alforno – Yas Mall – Abu Dhabi

 Indeed, at the moment of paying the bill, I had no bad surprises. I paid 100 AED for a cheese bread, hammour, water and a single espresso. A very convenient deal if we consider the overall quality of the food and the service provided.

If you are in the Yas Mall and want to try an Italian meal, Al Forno seems to be the right place for you. The restaurant is family friendly.

Surf Cafe Breakfast

Restaurant Review: The Surf Cafe, Umm Suqeim – Dubai

After an exhilarating performance at Bouncing in Al Quoz (where I managed to twist both ankles), we drove to Umm Suqeim for a late Breakfast at The Surf Cafe. The restaurant is at the first floor of a small building located near the Jumeirah Beach Hotel and it is provided with a very convenient elevator that was much appreciated in my conditions.

The restaurant is very nicely decorated, with a full window external wall facing Jumeirah Road and nice tables scattered all around. The restaurant has a live lobsters and crabs section and it is well known for its fish recipes. Some friends of ours were positively commenting the excellence of the food they had tasted some weeks earlier.

We ordered different things: scrambled eggs and avocado, poached eggs in avocado (like placed where the seed was), traditional surf cafe breakfast and so on. I opted for the surf breakfast that  was promising to be very filling: eggs, chicken sausage, beef bacon, hash browns, grilled mushroom, grilled cherry tomatoes and toasted bread. Three of our friends arrived earlier (I bet, I could barely walk) and ordered 10 minutes earlier.

It was the trigger of a drama. Their order arrived but then confusion was made with the drinks. The staff was a bit confused about who had ordered what and they brought a capuccino that no one ordered and missed some tea and juices. Not a big deal after all.

Few minutes later we noticed a member of the staff wandering around with two breakfast and asking to each and every table if they ordered a breakfast. They were puzzled in noticing that no one else ordered  our breakfast !!! We tried to call them but they were ignoring us, being so busy in understanding who had ordered the food. The problem was that they saw people eating at our table and assumed that we were alright.

Surf Cafe Breakfast

Nice breakfast at Surf Cafe

The breakfast was good, with high quality and tasty ingredients. It wasn’t that massive though and I had to order a slice of cake in order to suitably fill my stomach. The cake was awful. I was a stupid in asking the last slice of a Walnuts and Chocolate cake/biscuit that, since it was the last, tasted old.

The coffee is excellent, since they serve Illy caffe, one of the best and most appreciated in Italy, and they make it right.

The manager (that then explained to us to be the girlfriend of the owner that helps during the weekends) came and apologized for the little confusion they experienced during the day. A nice thing, really appreciated.

It is a good breakfast option if you are around Umm Suqeim.

Caramelized Chicken Breast

Restaurant Review: Tr!beca, JBR – Dubai

During the weekend, that here in Dubai falls on Friday and Saturday, we like to try different restaurants and places to get out of the usual routine. Last weekend we tried a relatively new restaurant called Tr!beca Kitchen and Bar in JA Ocean View Hotel, in JBR.

The restaurant is getting popular because it is an NYC-inspired farm-to-table restaurant that serves organic products and also a lounge bar to enjoy drinks with friends. The restaurant is nicely decorated with a mix of wooden and metal furniture to give the customers that cozy feeling that place your mind on the perfect mood to enjoy a nice evening either you are solo, a couple of a group of friends.

Tribeca Restaurant

Tribeca Restaurant – photo from tribeca.ae website

The menu is alright with starters, salads, main courses (1 chicken option, 1 fish, 1 lamb, 1 beef option, eggs and halloumi just to make everybody happy), a Little Italy section and desserts. I opted for a Cajun Chicken and the others got a salad with quinoa, stewed lamb and salmon. As desserts, I shared a Tiramisu with my partner and our friends got a cheesecake with passion fruit jam or compote and almond crumble.

After 20 minutes, a waiter approached me informing that the Cajun Chicken wasn’t anymore served in the restaurant since they have recently switched to a honey grilled chicken with caramelized figs, cheese and rocket salad (aka rucola or Arugola). I was surprised that they required 20 minutes to process the order but in any case I accepted the switch since it seemed quite interesting the proposed substitution.

With our great surprise, the meal was ready and they served it immediately after my clearance. The question is: what if I had said No? They would have been forced to serve the meals to the others and let me wait for other 20 minutes? This time they have risked a little but they have rightly guessed the answer I provided.

Caramelized Chicken Breast

Honey caramelized Chicken Breast with figs, cheese and rucola

The combination of flavors ad texture is excellent and the chicken was really tender. The only bad thing is that the chicken was really peppery and the decorative powder on the side of the plate was pepper as well. If you do not like spicy food, you might want to ask to have the chicken with little or no pepper. The portion is enough if you are not that hungry or if you had some appetizers before. If you are starving, the chicken alone will not fill your empty stomach also because it comes without bread or any other side dish that you have to order separately.

The desserts were really nice. The Tiramisu with Marsala  was really yummy and really close to the original one that my mom use to make. The steamed cheesecake was also superb as our friends confirmed.

We had a nice dinner and spent some enjoyable time together, however the restaurant is a bit pricey. I think it is because of the massive presence of organic ingredients, but the chicken breast was almost 150 AED (41 USD), definitely too expensive to go dine there more than once in a while.