Tag Archives: Food

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.

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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.

Worst lunch ever at First Avenue Cafe Oud Metha – Dubai

Some colleagues of mine and myself have already tried almost all the restaurants available in Oud Metha at a walk-able distance from our office. We have found 2 – 3 options that suit our taste and budget including 2 Lebanese restaurant and a Modern Bakery shop where we usually get our daily lunch.

After several months of eating almost the same thing every day, we come to know that a cafe restaurant was available in ‘Home r Us’ showroom and decided to give it a try. We had quite high expectations and were hoping to finally find an alternative option to the daily lunch routine.

First Avenue Cafe Oud Metha

First avenue cafe placemat

We were welcomed and offered the menu immediately and quickly asked some further information to the waiter that looked very confused. I asked for a breakfast item and he said it wasn’t available while the menu showed a clear “served all day” notice. He apologized smiling and took my omelette order, I had to add cheese and mushroom (and pay extra for those) since the omelette in the menu was just plain eggs. I asked some hummus and had to fight to get it because the waiter said “it is only available if you order a main breakfast item”. I spare you the 5 minutes discussion I had to entertain with two people (an additional waitress came to help her colleague) in order to let them understand that I was wiling to pay for it the price indicated in the menu.

My colleague ordered a simple Swiss Mushroom and Cheese burger.

After 15 minutes I received my order but they forgot to bring bread for the hummus. Never mind I thought and started eating the omelette that was made with almost raw and crunchy-tasteless mushrooms. By the time I had my omelette and ate half of the hummus with the fork, they brought some bread and my colleague’s burger, 35 minutes after placing our order.

First Avenue Cafe Omelette

The omelette at First Avenue Cafe is alright even though the additional mushroom I requested were of bad quality

He gave the first bite to the burger and got a bad surprise. The burger patty was as hard as a stone. Puzzled he opened the burger and tried to cut it with the cutlery and could manage to do it after applying a considerable amount of energy. He called the waiter that wasn’t able to handle the situation and was seriously debating with himself whether to charge anyway our bill with the cost of the burger.

We requested to talk with the manager that was absent as well as any kind of supervisor.

I came there a second time and can say that the place is good if you order something already prepared. Pizzas looked good as well but sandwiches and other mains prepared on the spot should be avoided.

Clinton Street Pancakes

Scrumptious cakes at Clinton Street . . . superb!

One of the best way to start the weekend in Dubai is to have a scrumptious breakfast somewhere around, possibly in a new restaurant or neighborhood. The last weekend a friend warmly recommended Clinton Street Baking Company and Restaurant in Downtown Dubai and since we haven’t been there yet, we decided to give it a try.

The restaurant is at the Burj View Towers, a building complex were a friend of mine used to live and that offers a stunning view of Burj Khalifa and Downtown. The place however is somehow anonymous since it is in a corner and not really visible from the main road. Inside it is much better: a cozy place packed with people enjoying their meals and time together. At 11 a.m. when we arrived, there was only one table available, just to have an idea of how busy it was.

Clinton Street Dubai

The restaurant is simply arranged but very functional. The kitchen and chefs can be seen from the tables.

Since we were there for breakfast, we ordered some eggs. I have got the Farmer’s Plate and my partner a beef chorizo omelette also called Spanish Scramble. I was expecting something wow since my partner’s colleague was enthusiastic of the place and instead we received two very regular plates with little to be enthusiastic for.

Clinton Street Chorizo Omelette

The Spanish Omelette with Chorizo was alright

Clinton Street Farmer Plate

The Farmer’s Plate came with two pieces of cheese and 2 chicken sausages with cumin and tomatoes

We were a bit disappointed, especially considering the 75 AED paid for the Farmer’s Plate and the 66 AED for the Spanish Scramble. The bottomless coffee, moreover, that comes endlessly for just 20 AED, wasn’t really satisfying my Italian taste.

We were still hungry but didn’t want to order anything else from the eggs menu to avoid any further disappointment. My partner decided, together with a friend of ours, to switch to the desserts: the best idea ever.

The desserts are scrumptious! We had a peanut and chocolate cake that was literally mouth-watering in the aspect and superb in the taste.

Clinton Street peanut and chocolate cake

The peanut and chocolate cake at Clinton Street is superb!

We shared this slice of cake and couldn’t resist to order another one. This time we chose a simple pancake that actually consisted in a tower of three pancakes, fluffy and delicious pancakes, with melting chocolate cubes on top.

Clinton Street Pancakes

Once the chocolate melts completely, the pancake is something irresistible!!

Mind that the pancakes are a big portion and can easily substitute your meal in case you are not a big eater. The maple syrup on the side was the perfect match with the dark melted chocolate. So yummy, but pay attention . . .I had way too many sugars because of the exquisite taste of the cakes and had to force myself to stop eating other baked sugary stuff!!!

The bakery side of the restaurant is definitely recommended!!

Pasta Carbonara Personal Recipe

Spaghetti alla Carbonara with 4 cheese with love!

Every time I post a photo or I discuss about the perfect “pasta alla carbonara” recipe with friends, it ends up in a fight and a general scorn. Should I use the whole egg or just the yolk? Should I put pepper or nutmeg? Should I use sliced “pancetta” (bacon) or the cubes one? And many more.

Once a chef friend told me that the carbonara should be creamy, hence I should use only the yolk with a little cream avoiding to cook the mixture in the pan and adding an handful of parmigiano on top. I don’t like to waste the egg white and therefore I usually use the entire egg. I do not have a fix recipe since I adapt it in relation to the food I have available in the fridge.

What is sure is that we are going to use eggsbacon (preferably smoked) and parmesan cheese. Remember that you shall not use onions in the carbonara pasta.

Pasta Carbonara Recipe

Pancetta (bacon) has to slowly fry in its fat. Do not add any oil or butter for an unaltered bacon taste.

Yesterday I was craving for a deliciously creamy ‘spaghetti alla carbonara’ and opted for one of my favourite invented recipes. I used sliced bacon, not smoked but natural, spaghetti, parmesan cheese, kashkaval, brie cheese and another soft cheese I had in the fridge.

I chopped the 100g ‘pancetta’ I have found in Waitrose supermarket and warmed it up in a pan without oil or butter until crispy.

From time to time I added little water from the pot where the pasta was cooking. It helps extracting and distributing the bacon flavour in the pan. You can sprinkle it with little wine if you prefer, like a dry white wine for instance.

Pasta Carbonara Personal Recipe

My Spaghetti alla Carbonara with four cheese are a bit heavy, not really Italian but super good.

While the bacon is frying and the pasta is cooking, you should put in a cup one egg every 150g of pasta, some olive oil, salt, a pinch of pepper or nutmeg, grated parmesan and cubes of easy-to-melt-cheeses. You shall mix everything together even  though you won’t obtain a perfect mix. Once the spaghetti are cooked, you shall dry them and toss them in the pan with the bacon. Toss with the heat on medium. This operation will help the pasta to absorb the bacon fragrance. After you have tossed the pasta few times, add the eggs mix and toss again until the cheese is melted and the pasta evenly covered by the right proportion of eggs, cheese and bacon. Mmmm . . .yummy.

Japanese breakfast at Sukiya Takeshiba – Minato, Tokyo

During our stay in Japan we tried each and every traditional dish we encountered on our way. We haven’t limited our exploration to the most popular ramen and sushi options and we included rice cakes, dried fish, matcha tea products and so on. In order to do so, we booked the hotel without any meal included to avoid the usual “international breakfast” you might find all over the world.

Obviously, the first morning we woke up in the Asian Country, we rushed to the nearest breakfast restaurant and ordered one of the “special” breakfast options (the menu was only in Japanese but luckily was provided with photos of the meals).

If you are used to western food and taste, you might find the Japanese breakfast weird. We have got steamed rice, miso soup (made with green onions, seaweed, tofu and fermented soy beans paste), nori (dried seaweed), tsukemono (pickles) and natto (fermented soy beans) and a raw egg.

The Japanese Break Fast

Japanese breakfast in a common restaurant in Tokyo. Natto (the fermented soy beans) can be disgusting for someone.

Since I didn’t know what to do or how to combine the food together, considering that no one was speaking English in the restaurant, I had to learn from another customer how to deal with the food I had in front of me.

so I added some soy sauce to the natto, I had the miso soup with the spring onions and some rice with the nori. I was enjoying my breakfast when I saw the other customer breaking the raw egg on top of the rice and enjoying it. My partner stopped eating while I managed to have the unusual mix. But the worst moment was when we had to eat natto. 

The taste itself is not bad, but the consistency and texture of the mix is weird. The fermented soybeans are covered by a filamentous and sticky jelly that resembles something really unpleasant. Again, my partner gave up at the first bite, I struggled to have a second. I had to drink an entire glass of iced barely tea to cancel the fastidious sensation from my mouth.

Needless to say that we have opted for a somehow more suitable breakfast option during the rest of our holiday.The service was nice and the food came quick because precooked and ready to eat. Even though it is based on a fast-food philosophy, the quality of the food was good enough.

Funny start of our holiday.

Restaurant Review: Freiche Cafe & Bistro, JLT Cluster Y – Dubai

Weekends in Dubai are synonyms of Friday and/or Saturday breakfasts with friends. There are so many options to explore that it could be considered as a tough job to visit all of them.  However, from time to time we decide to visit the same restaurant because it is conveniently located close to home or because we have positive memories about it.

One of the last weekends we decided to visit once again Freiche, in Cluster Y in Jumeirah Lake Towers, on the ground level of Swiss Tower. I had a very unpleasant breakfast few months ago in that place and momentarily banned it from my wishlist. However, some friends insisted to go and hence I forced myself to be think positive.

The restaurant looked different. I mean, the furniture were the same with dark wood decor and full wall windows, but the food items were displayed differently and the restaurant was full!!

We were warmly welcomed by the manager of the place (I think she was the owner) and immediately realized that something had changed in the past months. The staff was well trained and polite and managed our order without troubles even with personal requests of variations like: more salmon, less pepper and the like.

The food came quickly and it was way much better than I remembered it.

Fraiche Eggs Benedict

The eggs Benedict were really good with the right amount of sauce and slamon/spinach.

I have asked my eggs medium and I received them as requested, however, my partner received quite soft ones. Not a big deal, since we have exchanged the plates (i don’t mind soft eggs) but it is disappointing and can sometimes ruin your happy mood.

They have a all you can eat breakfast deal if you want to take advantage of some cakes and biscuits and enjoy some complimentary drinks.

Prices are normal and comparable with major competitors in the area.