Dubai, due to it’s high level of Subcontinental expats and tourists is unsurprisingly beginning to brim with fine dining Indian cuisine. Tresind competes with the likes of sleek Amal at Armani, templesque Rang Mahal by Atul Kochhar, classic Indego by Vineet and exotic Amala on the Palm. And I must admit, to look at, it pales a little in comparison. It’s second floor, in the business district, with no postcard view or exterior seating. The interior is somewhat reminiscent of a late 1980s Beverly Hills dining room. There’s a TV on the wall with football or cricket replays that never stop. It doesn’t really scream modern Indian fine dining. But ironically, that’s what it is, and it might just be the best in Dubai.
A few more people are beginning to talk about Tresind now. After an impressive stand at Taste of Dubai 2016, there are many looking forward to Tresind’s own offspring, Carnival, which is expected to open in coming months. And my friends are talking about it too, after two nights there in quick sucession. The first was just with my other half, and the second because he wanted to drag all our friends back there for mushroom kulcha and maacher jhol. My initial visit had me moaning in pleasure over similar items, but I had left without the extreme enthusiasm he seemed to experience. The second visit brought me to his side.
I think that’s because of the cocktails (missed on round one). Tresind make everything with flourish, and some of the most overt displays can be discovered while waiting for your drink. There’s something special about a colonial-era copper drinks trolley that just gets me in the mood, or perhaps it’s inhaling the various vapours and infusions that progress over the top of it. I’m a sucker for stupid-looking drinks in coconuts, and these guys take it one step further. Bubble, boil and trouble zingy concoctions for starters, and when I wanted to be classy, a smoked Manhattan.
There are several ways to dine at Tresind. Vegetarian or non-vegetarian, degustation, sharing or traditional a la carte. It’s an easy place to be, the experience flows, the staff smile, there’s always something to look at (even if they are not concocting something table-side, there is always the telly). It’s a very easy place to accidentally have a five-hour dinner without ever feeling over-full, or like you’ve waited too long for anything.
As I’ve mentioned, there are plenty of theatrics. Tresind themselves may like to throw around words like molecular gastronomy and post-modernism and progressive cuisine, but essentially, it boils down to fun. There’s nothing in there we haven’t seen celebrity chefs do on the telly, but somehow, it doesn’t come off cliche. The chefs have taken a broad range of traditional Indian dishes from north to south, and shaken them up in a dry ice snow globe with 2016 Dubai and created some seriously entertaining and delicious food.
Some at our table preferred the chaat splat (my name for it, not Tresind’s), which was freeze-dried, splotched, thrown and scattered like a Pro Hart painting (pictured above). Others liked the deconstructed pani puri, which had two swims in different formulae before arriving on a spoon as a multi-layered mouthful. One went mad for the chicken kulcha, which came with its own mini clothes line of dangling bread. For me, it was the aforementioned machher johl, intense Bengali mustard curry over fish – a recipe I’ve had several times before, but never even close to this. Just coming in second was the mushroom kulcha; pillows of paper-thin pastry with mushroom filling laced with truffle oil. Ohh, and let’s not forget the dahi ice cream (right).
The food is a lovely partnership between tradition and passion. You can tell there are some damn good cooks in the kitchen, and they really care about what they send out. You’re just as likely to have your food presented by kitchen staff as waiters. They’re there at the forefront, prepping at the table, describing their art, measuring feedback, and invariably going back to the kitchen with self-satisfied grins, as they should.
Despite my opening paragraph, there’s very little not to like. Once trying the food, and receiving the full service, you’ll forgive the somewhat dated atmosphere and lack of Dubian glitz and glam. Sometimes it’s just not necessary….
Pros: Great food, casual and friendly atmosphere, fun dining experience, fabulous vegetarian offering
Cons: Decor/ambience could be improved to bring it into line with the fun and vibrance of the food and service
Nassima Royal hotel, Sheikh Zayed Rd, Dubai. Map
Some of the photographs above are not my own (I only had an iphone at the time of dining), but are property of the restaurant. I’m sure you can tell which are which. All attached however are true representations, and all dishes pictured are on the current menu and tried by me (yum).
*A guide to ratings: These take into account the price, quality, service and the facilities, and in effect are a value rating. A venue with mains at 30AED has just as much chance of getting a 10/10 as a fine dining establishment.
- 0-2/10 = exceptionally overpriced or tremendously awful. Avoid at all costs.
- 3-5/10 = overpriced in respect to quality. Lacklustre. Don’t eat there unless there are no other options.
- 6-7/10 = reasonable value. Check other options in the area just in case, but not a bad choice over-all.
- 8-9/10= worth seeking out. Tremendous food and ambience. One of if not the best restaurant in the area.
- 10/10 = As good as it gets. Stop what you’re doing, book a table now.