The second edition of my food and drink bites is a little cafe focused. With the kids back at school, I’m finally permitted a little me-time, and I’ve been Jumeirah Jane-ing myself once again. Lunches dahhlings….
Cafes and Casual:
I’ve eaten here several times now, and it’s quickly becoming the local haunt of choice. It sits next to a sandpit in the shadow of the Jones the Grocer Megalith, subtly welcoming housewives into it’s urban homeliness after the 9am pilates session with it’s late breakfast and healthy lunch choices. The name is a mystery – It meals “quickly” in Polish, “snappy” in Slovak, and I’ve no idea if it’s pronounced “bye-strow” or “bistrow”, but let’s assume it’s a Ligurian dialect for “good casual eatery with stupendous zeppole” (northern italian custard filled donut holes). Great food, good coffee, excellent tea and efficient service. And well priced with mains under 75AED.
This is where I go when I’m pretending to be healthy. Balance is an ayurvedic themed cafe, with plenty of vegan, gluten free and low-cal options. Unfortunately I can’t resist the chicken tikka wraps when I get there, which are just about the only thing on the menu that break each of those healthy rules. Last time I tried the curry, which is less than 500cal for an entire serve, and tastes like a whole lot more than that. Good food, average coffee, decent tea, good smoothies and slow but polite service. Delivery option.
I spent a morning down here in the company of the amiable mother and son ownership team, bugging them about the sensory components of the brew, just to make sure they know what they are talking about. Trust me, they do – to the point of gorgeous fanatacism. I can see this as becoming the den of choice for serious tea drinkers, as well as luring locals with its plush furnishings and dainty porcelain. Super tea, coffee untried, good food (more choice than you would expect), slightly strange location, but many will find it delightfully obscure in it’s Burj Plaza hidey-hole.
They’re still doing it right. Fortunately since my last visit the wait staff have lost their overly chipperness, but have remained happy-go-lucky and efficient. The menu has seen a change, but remains fresh and lively, modern and clean, with a dense selection of guilty sweet treats. Coffee still good. Food still good. Ambience still fantastic. Location the only let-down – I’d like it next-door to my house please.
Art of Food, Ananta
I was lucky enough to be invited to a tasting of Ananta’s new “art of food” menu last week. They’ve just joined forces with Dubai classic, XVA Gallery, and are trialing a new style of service, where the restaurant is converted into a gallery, and the food is designed on the plate with art in mind (as well as taste, I am sure). I’m quite a fan of Umai (their Japanese-ish restaurant), and Ananta too is proving it’s has some points to gain in the cuisine stakes.
Eid break meant a little road trip, and our friends steered us into their new favourite local. I was pleasantly surprised (and affirmed when it comes to respect for this particular friend’s taste) with some exceptional turkish food – some of the best I have had in the UAE in recent years. Try the pistachio shrimp and the eggplant in clay pot in particular. It’s unlicensed, but serves a damn good cup of çay, and furnishings are close to what you’d expect to find in a restaurant within a five-star hotel.
Well, I didn’t go to the opening. Partly because I had already booked tickets for Sandance (below) and Empire of the Sun coincided with the main course, and that I would look like a hessian sack of potatoes in the corner at the chichi gathering, but also because I was scared I might be tempted to ping a falafel at a gorgeous celebrity’s head. I’m still trying to figure out how the unassuming Melbournian/Lebanese Greg Malouf would fit into a salad with pretty star flotsam like the Hiltons and Kardashians, but it seems he does. Because they all went and I didn’t. Oh well, I’ll be in soon for a proper review…
As a follow-up to Grenache day the previous week, Le Clos took us through an Old-World/New-World face-off of Rhone varietals. Cave, as always, was an ambient setting, although the green light given off by the windows of wine bottles on the walls makes for difficulty giving wines an “appearance” score. I really do love Cave for their setting (check out the bed-like lounges with overhead mirrors) and homage to pork (yes, it’s definitely not Haram), and I think I like Le Clos even more for their free tastings of stupendously good wines. If you want to get on the mailing list, you need to sign up online, and then buy something at some stage – you will start receiving invitations when they know you are there to spend as well as taste. If you follow me on Vivino, you will see some of what I had a go at – others will be written up here on the blog.
I’ve finally made it down to Sandance after years and years of saying I will buy tickets, and then realising at the last moment they are all sold out. It’s a perfect live venue – plenty of space, casual feel, heaps of seats (on the sand, granted) and a festival feel. The acts seem to get better and better, and for the price of one ticket, you often get 2-3 big names that could headline in their own right. Organisers are clever enough to mix them up a bit though, so you don’t ever get all your favourites on one night, but you’re definitely going to find something you like, no matter what your tastes. Only let-downs are the traffic on the way in (They really should organise some ferries from the Marina) and the bar, which is a little low on choice, and high on completely ineffectual staff. Location superb, pricing is fair, food is edible and drinks aren’t too expensive (when you finally get them). Be warned – the VIP section is actually some distance from the stage, and so although you have a quieter bar, and some seating, you may regret forking out the extra. The table area, likewise, is apart from the stage, but has better visuals and space.