Tribeca

This was not my first visit to Tribeca, I had first visited a few weeks back and from entering I loved their cool and quirky interiors. Graffiti on the walls, sneakers dangling from a bookshelf, mismatched furniture – yes it sounds awful, but ultimately it works and is effortlessly hip.

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On that fist visit of mine, my friend and I shared a portion of sweet potato fries and edamame flavoured with pink Himalyan salt to begin – both were the perfect nibbles while we sat chatting and catching up. The sweet potato fries were one of the best I’ve tried in Dubai and a generous portion at that and well, you can’t really go wrong with edamame.

For mains on that occasion I had the Paleo Lasagne and my veggie amigo, the Superfood salad with avocado, carrots, kale, goji berries, chickpeas and wasabi peas. I was surprised at how the lasagne arrived – I had a preconceived image in my head of a traditional looking lasagne but with the pasta layers substituted for a vegetable, for example layers of eggplant or zucchini. Albeit, half an aubergine arrived stuffed with organic, as is Tribeca’s ethos, minced meat, courgette, tomato and some chopped peppers scattered on top. It was tasty but I couldn’t help feeling like both portions were adequate but not overly generous. That being said with the appetisers we had to begin I was sufficiently full at the end of the meal, but would mains alone fill me up? I don’t think so.

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So last evening on my second visit, this time with my carnivorous boyfriend in tow, I was curious to see how portions would fare and if they would be substantial enough for a male diner.

Arriving early we started with drinks – their menu of which is extensive. The cocktail list is inventive but I found had an overwhelming array of flavour & ingredient combinations. I think less would be more. Nonetheless, we wanted to try them out so we ordered the Sunset Park tea (pictured behind) and the Cubanhood (pictured forefront). Unfortunately neither of us liked our drinks. The cubanhood was sweet to the point that I couldn’t drink it while his Sunset Park Tea was more bearable but still too sour for both our taste buds so abandoning the cocktails I stuck to water while he switched to a beer.

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Prepped from my last visit we decided to go the whole hog and order three courses. For starters we ordered the Grilled Prawns marinated in olive oil & lemon with a hint of chili & garlic and the Baby Octopus Salad served with smoked chickpea & rocket.

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Both dishes were simple but well cooked and flavoursome – particularly the prawns.

Going paleo for mains I chose the Zucchinni noodles with chestnut mushrooms, mixed cherry tomatoes, kale & macadamia nut pesto. The dish left a lot to be desired. It lacked flavour and was much too oily that I couldn’t enjoy eating it and left more than half uneaten. There was also very little mushrooms or tomatoes in the dish.

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I also ordered a side of Sweet Potato fries which as aforementioned I love from here. Big portion and the fries aren’t too thin that you feel like you are just eating deep-fried shards of nothing.

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Mi amore tucked into the Tribeca burger & fries with cajun mayonaise, tomatoes, beetroot & caramelised onions (with requested no cheddar) and as a self-proclaimed Dubai burger connoisseur, he was quite impressed with Tribeca’s version.

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Suprisingly full at this stage – my previous doubts about how filling their menu is now diminished; we ordered one dessert to share. We chose the only dairy-free option which was the Paleo Banoffee Pie with coconut, honey, pecan nuts & chia seeds but this was definitely the biggest let down of the night.

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The consistency and textures of the dish were all wrong. Chia seeds when soaked become sludgy, so paired then with similar gooey-textured banana slices it made for a very unpleasant sensation when eating. Banoffee pie should have a caramel layer and most importantly a layer of crunch, neither of which were present in this dish. I applaud their inventiveness but it just did not deliver. There are so many great paleo/vegan banoffee recipes available or imaginable nowadays that I hope they will revise their recipe and improve it. Who knows maybe they could try my famous Banoffee recipe!?

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My verdict? Tribeca would be top of my list in terms of venues and ambience. This is definitely somewhere I would go with a bunch of friends for drinks and some yummy nibbles such as their starters/bar snacks. Their full food menu still needs some work but I believe they are on the right path and I am excited to see their progression and improvement.

http://www.tribeca.ae

Tresind

Located on the second floor of the Nassima Royal Hotel on Sheikh Zayed Road, Tresind is a self-called “modernist Indian fine dining restaurant” that I have been eager to visit for some time now. My family and I are big Indian food fans, so with my folks and my sister in town it was the perfect opportunity and boy was it worth the wait!

Arriving for our reservation at 7 p.m. to an empty restaurant was a little worrying yet these worries were soon dismissed as by 8 p.m. almost every table in the house was full and remained that way for the entirety  of our meal. A few tables even had turn-overs during that time and most of the diners during our visit were Indian themselves which is always a good sign.

Upon making our reservation I had advised the restaurant about my food intolerances (no wheat or dairy) and they were most accommodating. Once seated, the head chef came to speak with me about what options he could offer me from the á la carte menu while my parents and sister chose the eight course tasting menu which consisted of 13 mini dishes.

I have to say that even though I wasn’t eating all of the dishes on the tasting menu the theatrical side of their preparations (especially those done at the table) and presentation was so enjoyable even as a spectator. Foodie or not, I would highly recommend choosing the tasting menu option which at 375 AED I think is fantastic value for the quality and quantity of food provided.

To kick off we were served an amuse bouche of a pani puri – a traditional Indian street food, but deconstructed and reinvented, prepared “science lab” style at our table. Designed to be ate in one bite, the spoonful was a burst of sweet and spicy flavours with textural interest thanks to the nuggets of crunchy chickpeas.

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Although I will feature some photos of the tasting menu I won’t comment on them seeing as I did not taste them. What I did taste first however was a beautifully presented tamarind dressed melon salad, sent compliments of the chef, before my  chosen starter of scallops arrived. I adore scallops but often they are a small dish for a big price. This was not the case here though with four plump scallops served alongside a rich peanut and chili sauce.

For main course I ordered the coconut fish curry – the fish was cooked perfectly so that when touched with my fork it fell away easily. The thick sauce and accompanying appam (a rice flour pancake with a steamed egg in the centre -something I was thrilled to see on the menu, bringing back sweet memories from my Sri Lanka trip last year!); soon had me realising that my eyes are bigger than my belly!

Some pictures of the dishes offered on the tasting menu are shown below.

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Overall Tresind proved utterly delightful in every way – from their food to the staff who were warm, friendly and well informed that I cannot wait for my next visit and try their new summer menu & you should too! 😉

http://www.tresind.com

 

Zaroob

Last evening I visited Zaroob – a Levant street food vendor inspired restaurant offering wholesome, simple dishes in a brightly coloured, quirky environment set to mimic a traditional Middle Eastern street.

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Given the cool evening that it was we chose to dine outside on the open terrace. The space was filled with wooden chairs, steel tables and plenty of greenery to help blend into the Golden Mile area in which the eatery is located on the Palm Jumeira. One thing I will mention here is that the wooden benches could do with some more cushioning for sitting on in addition to those at our backs as they wouldn’t entice me to stay seated there for long periods of time.

One menu and a pen are provided to the table for diners to ‘tick the box‘ next to their desired dishes. Our waitress Mini was very helpful recommending and explaining various dishes and we ended up ordering quite a feast!

Dishes are prepared in an open kitchen inside and arrive as ready. Our order consisted of a falafel platter, a mixed shawarma platter, beef alayet, puffed eggs, mixed vegetables & pickles, fattoush, hummus with tatbileh and hummus with meat and pinenuts. In hindsight for eyes were bigger than our bellies and this amount of food could have easily fed three or four hungry people!

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The mixed shawarma platter had a generous portion of meat but was a little dry. Personally, I preferred the hummus tatbileh over the hummus with meat and pine nuts – the meat was a bit tough, especially in comparison to the soft stir-fried beef tenderloin.

The fattoush though was fresh, well dressed with crunchy leaves and a good accompaniment to the other dishes. Whilst the falafel was the first dish devoured.

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My dining partner and I both agreed that the beef alayet, (pictured in the pan on the far left below), was the tastiest dish, consisting of stir-fried beef tenderloin in a pomegranate sauce with onions and red peppers.

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All in all, Zaroob offers a fun, casual dining spot for quick and simple Middle Easten dishes at a reasonable price.

http://www.zaroob.com

 

 

 

 

Crumble Café

Last night I had the pleasure of attending a bloggers evening at Crumble café in downtown Dubai, less than a one minute walk from the Burj Khalifa metro station. I was surprised to learn that Crumble is in fact open for over one year, however in the past month has undergone somewhat of a transformation and I believe are now on the right track to success with a fresh healthier approach to food.

Entering Crumble, the café is modern and spacious with quirky prints displayed on the walls. Most of the seating is downstairs but there is a few tables upstairs along with a children’s play area which is perfect for families.

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On arrival I ordered the unusual sweet potato, banana, chia, oat and almond milk smoothie mostly out of curiosity but also because I love all those ingredients so I was intrigued to see how they would fare when put together.

How was it, you ask? To be honest – a little boring. There was no distinctive taste of anything. I know I know, of course I would say this – but even a dash of cinnamon or some subtle flavour would have greatly enhanced its taste.

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Canapés soon arrived, some of which were not listed on the menu so I was a little confused as to why they were being served, but nonetheless, included smashed avocado with buffalo mozzarella and semi-dried tomato and a fig confit with fresh fig slices served on discs of toasted bread. As well as a chicken wrap with mango salsa and a rice paper wrapper containing the roasted peach and goat’s cheese salad from the menu. I tasted the fig confit, minus the bread, but found it was very sweet. I didn’t taste the chicken wrap but the smashed avocado was a hit with everyone, as it always is.

The Roasted peaches with baby spinach, rocket, goat’s cheese, pecan nuts, an almond crumble and a mustard dressing when served as the canapé wrapped in rice paper was underwhelming but when tasted later as its true dish of a salad bowl it was my favourite salad of the menu. Simple and flavoursome with all important texture and crunch.

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When mains rolled around I ordered the Cod fish with a Ragout of chickpeas, kidney beans and cauliflower which came with two large wedges of sourdough bread. The fish was well cooked, easily falling apart and the portion size was more than substantial.

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The four available salads on the menu were ordered for the table. These included the Pomelo & Prawn Salad with green Mango, cilantro, mint, shallots, carrots, toasted sesame, peanuts, lime and chilli dressing; Balsamic Roasted Beetroot Salad with pumpkin, sweet potato, chickpeas, grilled halloumi, baby spinach, pumpkin seeds, sumac vinaigrette; Super Bowl Salad of red quinoa, wild rice, cherry tomatoes, charred corn, kale, pomegranate, ricotta, walnuts, medjool dates, jalapeno vinaigrette and the aforementioned Roasted Peach Salad.

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I loved how the kale had been crisped in the Super Bowl Salad and was glad to see wild rice mixed in with the quinoa as quinoa is being completely over-done on menus around Dubai this past year. Again there was a good play on textures with lots of simple flavours.

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Personally the beetroot salad didn’t excite whilst the pomelo and prawn salad although fresh and light was just O.K.

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All in all, it was a very enjoyable experience and I am very much looking forward to returning again soon, particularly to taste their delectable sounding breakfast menu with features such as Coconut Quinoa Porridge and Skillet Baked Eggs.

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Crumble is open daily from 7:30am – 10pm.

For more information, call +971 (0)4 448 9061, visit their www.facebook.com/crumble.uae ; or follow them on social media @crumble.uae

YO! Sushi

Last night I shared a lovely evening with The Real Geordie Armani (http://www.therealgeordiearmani.com) and some other fellow bloggers at YO! Sushi in the newly opened expansion in the Mall of the Emirates.

Lucky us, we were given the opportunity to taste as much of the 80+ dish menu as we wished before then learning how to make our own sushi.

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Prior to last night’s visit, it had been quite some time since I ate at YO! Sushi back home in Ireland/UK or sushi in general. To be very frank I have gone slightly off the idea of sushi and raw fish so I arrived apprehensive, yet I was pleasantly surprised to see how many options there were on the menu that weren’t raw or fish based at all!

Two of the things I really like about YO! Sushi is how you can watch the dishes roll by as you browse the menu and decide what you fancy. As a hugely visual person and when eating dishes that are unfamiliar, I think having a verbal and visual menu, as this outlet does, is hugely beneficial and makes ordering much easier.

Some of my favourite dishes included the Eggplant and Kaiso (pictured far right in the second picture below) salads but the true show-stealer was the Crispy Salmon Skin HandRoll.

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I think I could happily visit and just eat two or three of these guys. I am salivating thinking about them today.

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There are plenty of healthy options available and some others worth mentioning are the Coriander Seared Tuna and Kaiso Gunkan.

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All in all YO! Sushi provides a nice healthy light meal option that won’t break the bank and allows for a novel dining experience.

Find them on Facebook: Yo! Sushi Middle East

Twitter: @YoSushi_ME

Instagram: @Yosushi_ME

 

Raw Vegan High Tea

Last weekend I had the pleasure of being invited to sample the new Vegan Afternoon Tea now being served at Mozzo Centrale, in Umm Sequim1, with my dear friend Rania (@cleanyummydubai).

The restaurant has a ladi-back vibe and a quirky interior with multi-coloured bicycle frames adorning the ceiling and mismatched lighting and furnishing.

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To kick off, we both ordered peppermint tea to accompany our feast – and a feast it was! Bear in mind the pictures shown are a portion size for one person!

Starting from the bottom – *cue Drake song* lol – we began with the savoury options which included a dehydrated red bell paper wrap with rocket pesto, vegetables and watercress and a carrot & faxseed cracker with a hummus spread, black olives & fresh parsley. Following these was a rosemary onion bread with herbed “cream cheese”, fresh chives & black pepper. This one was really delicious, I loved the freshness of the herbs, but the real winner for me was the sundried tomato and basil tart loaded with a creamy, cheesy, carrot and parsnip linguine. 

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Savouries safely devoured it was onto the middle tier which consisted of a very sweetly wrapped parcel, complete with mini wooden-pegs to safely envelope two dehydrated scones – of lemon & a cranberry raisin variety, both served with whipped cream and raspberry jam.

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The cream was really light which I think was thanks to the addition of coconut rather than it being a solely nut-based vegan cream as is often the case. I personally love textures in food so the cranberry raisin scone won this battle thanks to its chewy dried fruit additions.

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Scones tucked away. We were onto the top tier heroes.

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First up – a mango tart with lemon cream filling I loved this one. The mango was perfectly ripe, soft but not overly sweet as they can often be at this time of the year.

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One dessert in and we were, as you could imagine, already sufficiently stuffed! But never ones to shy away from a challenge we persevered! Next we made a move for the caramel shortbread with its oozy middle layer and the almond fig bar. The shortbread was surprisingly light but unfortunately we both found the fig bar just too sweet for our taste buds.

Our tummies now pushed to their limits we decided to call it quits and pack our double chocolate brownie to take home.

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I enjoyed my brownie later that evening with a big glass of coconut milk and again, as was consistent with the other components of the tea, the play on textures with the crunchy cacao nibs, the soft chocolate top and the set base, was divine.

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I would highly recommend this experience whether you are vegan, dairy-free like me, or none of the above! It is an alternative, truly guilt-free take on a traditionally unhealthy, sugar laden feast.

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The Sum of Us

I’ve decided to start sharing more of my café and restaurant visits so where better to start than a promising first-timer at The Sum of Us, Dubai.

As most will know, this modern eatery is a sister restaurant to the expat hot-favourite, Tom & Serg. As much as I love the cool relaxed atmosphere and the ingredients/flavour combinations on offer at Tom & Serg as someone with food intolerances I feel a bit hard done by when I visit there. Unfortunately it clearly states on their menu that subsititutions cannot be made. I can understand this during busy periods, which they often are, but it means I end up having to order the same thing (the Gado-Gado – minus the gado-gado sauce, which contains soy – ironic nay?) every time I visit. It leaves me with a serious case of food envy when eating with friends and seeing the interesting combinations of flavours they get to have while my dish is left a little mundane – unless of course I want to pay a lot more for multiple add-ons – Ehh, no thanks.

But back to the case at hand. TheSum of Us had me at the menu. Exciting modern dishes with unusual but enticing food and flavour combinations, similar to but stand-alone from Tom & Serg. (It’s also worth noting that there is no mention on The Sum of Us menu about no substitutions).

Mi amiga and I both ordered the Crispy Skin Salmon sans dairy which when it arrived we discovered meant no white bean purée or gibriche sauce – which I was a little confused about as gibriche sauces is normally made from eggs but doesn’t have dairy.

I asked for my fish medium while my friend asked for well done and both came with a lemon oil dressed side salad and chunky Chickpea Fries with homemade lemon ketchup. We also shared the Baked Sweet Potato Salad with chickpeas, spring onion, chili, rocket and lemon, minus the feta.

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Crispy skin salmon is a favourite dish of mine and I wasn’t disappointed, the fish was delicious. The chickpea fries were an unusual treat for me but a little dry and for my personal sugar free tastebuds I found the ketchup too sweet but that may be an individual thing. The salad was a good accompaniment though and the dressing from this aided eating the dry fries.

I also had an almond milk matcha latté and it’s worth noting that our waiter was very attentive and interested towards our requests. Although he was unsure about the intolerances to begin he asked a number of questions so he could better understand why we couldn’t have them which I thought was really nice to see.

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Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thesumofusdubai

Website: http://thesumofusdubai.com/

Review of Fukurou House, DIFC – Foodiva.net

Here comes my second guest blogger post on the Foodiva site. This time around I visited a newly-opened Armenian-run restaurant with a healthy take on traditional foods. Think fruit and veggies in every dish – I’m talking strawberries with salmon main courses and prunes in soup starters!

Click here to read the full review: http://www.foodiva.net/2015/03/fukurou-house-a-playful-plate/#

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Arganic Argan Oil

This weekend I had the pleasure of being invited to a breakfast feast courtesy of the lovely Dana Elemara, founder of Arganic, at Jone’s the Grocer café in Al Safa Dubai. Arganic was launched three years ago by Dana, who left a career in the corporate world to pursue this niche venture.

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Working directly with Beber tribes from a small village in the South West of Morocco Arganic produces high quality, health boosting argan oil. Before meeting Dana, my knowledge of argan oil was mostly from a cosmetic point of view as we so commonly see it marketed. However as Dana correctly points out, beauty comes from within, for if your body is unhealthy on the inside it can never look it’s best on the outside.

So with that being said, I had to ask, what makes argan oil so great? Well, I learned it has a range of health promoting properties including aiding digestion, regulating blood sugar, reducing bad cholesterol and it has three times the amount of vitamin E, (the one that does wonders for our skin!), than olive oil. Not so bad.

But then, why choose Arganic argan oil rather than any other brand? The answer to this lies in Dana’s passion for top quality, sustainable produce and her applaudable work with the Berber people. Let me fill you in…

Arganic work directly with local people in Morocco, paying them fairly not to cut down the argan trees. Arganic only employ Berber women to do all the handwork in producing their oil and these women are paid for their time. I was amazed as I listened to Dana explaining the process of producing the oil and I can now understand how the price of her product is justified given the level of work put into it’s production.

Here’s what happens… The argan tree produces fruits which once dropped from the tree are collected and dried. The outer layer is removed and fed to animals and the remaining husk or kernel is hand-cracked to retrieve the seed inside. From this seed the oil is extracted. The aforementioned husks are sold to cosmetic companies for use as scrubs or exfoliant so or some are used in pottery. Before cold-pressing the seeds are lightly toasted to bring out it’s nutty taste and then mixed with raw seeds to retain 96% of its nutritional value. Arganic I am told are the only company which do this, explaining why their oil is lighter in colour than others found on the market. Keeping with their no waste philosophy, the pulp from the pressed seeds is then used as fuel for fires by the local Berber people.

So it does great for my body, it is produced at the highest, fairest level – now to the taste. Admittedly, I am not a big fan of oils because of how greasy they traditionally are and as my blog followers will know I only use coconut oil or very occasionally olive oil in my recipes. Albeit, never one to shy away from an acclaimed health food I was excited to try the oil and see if it lived up to Dana’s impressive background story! Well rest assured Arganic doesn’t falter at the final hurdle. Unlike many other oils it doesn’t leave a greasy residue but is smooth on the palate with a nutty, buttery, yet strangely light, taste and texture.

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I was surprised when we were served a dish of coconut milk porridge with mango on which to drizzle the oil as I would have presumed the oil for savoury use, for example paired with eggs as above, but I was pleasantly surprised at how well it worked providing a subtle richness and extra sustenance to a breakfast meal. (I confess I enjoyed it so much I may have even added a second helping to the dish!)

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All in all, I am delighted I had the opportunity to be introduced to Dana & her Arganic brainchild and I am looking forward to using Arganic in future recipes. If you too would like to get your hands on it, the London based product, used by many Michelin-starred chefs in the UK including one of my favourite chefs and cookbook authors, Ottolenghi, is available in two sizes exclusively at Jones the Grocer cafés in the UAE.

IMG_5718The beautiful Dana, proudly displaying a bottle of her Arganic argan oil

 

Eating My Way Around Dubai

Eating healthily while dining out in Dubai can be a struggle at times. It can be expensive & sourcing good places can be difficult so here is a round-up of just some of the places I’ve tried since moving here six months ago.

Comptoir 102 – Jumeirah Beach Road; really delicious, ever changing menu options with many options for those with gluten/wheat intolerances, vegetarians and vegans. My only down point on this restaurant is how expensive it is for very small portions. I have ate two courses here for 90AED before & still left with my tummy not full. Better for a light lunch option.

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Kitsch Counter – One of my favourite weekend haunts. This little cafe has two locations, one on the Jumeirah Beach Road and another in DIFC. Super convenient for grabbing healthy food on the go. They have oodles of vegan, vegetarian and paleo options. Check out my full guest review of Kitsch on Foodiva’s site here.

Carrot & Beetroot Hummuses on Paleo Zucchini Superfood BreadRaw sweet potato tarts

 

Bestro – tucked away on the third floor of Galleries Lafayette in Dubai Mall this is Dubai’s first fully raw vegan cafe. They are currently updating their menu (which I am not-so-patiently waiting for!) but from the menu that is available now I highly recommend the lasagne with cashew nut cream & of course, no trip to Bestro would be complete without my favourite cacao probiotic smoothie. Staff here are superb and if you have a sweet tooth the desserts & ice cream are lust-worthy. Dish to try – the chocolate fondant. Mmmm.

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Baker & Spice – also located in Dubai Mall but this time in Souk Al Bahar. This restaurant is a popular spot firstly due to its great location for sitting and dining outdoors enjoying the Burj Khalifa fountain show, but secondly for the great variety of food they have on offer. No matter what your food preferences I think Baker & Spice can meet your needs. They have one of the best salad bars I’ve encountered in Dubai, meat and fish options, juices & smoothies and an array of freshly baked breads and cakes. Ideal for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Nyla Kitchen – at Nyla House on Al Wasl Road is a vegan cafe, also serving eggs, that’s great for breakfast or light lunch, smoothies, teas and sweet treats post-workout. I can also vouch for the fitness classes here. Gruelling – yes; but you will leave super energised and ready for the day ahead. Before Christmas the cafe hosted a raw chocolate making workshop too which I attended and really enjoyed. I learned loads, met some very interesting people, got to eat lots of delicious treats and make my own chocolates to take home! It was a great experience and I’m looking forward to future workshops here.

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Spill The Bean café – located in Sunset mall but often found at various events across Dubai. For example at the minute they have a pop-up as part of The Beach Canteen for Dubai Food Festival, down on Kite Beach. They do breakfast and lunch options but really it’s their sweets, treats and coffee that they are known for. They have a great selection of dairy, wheat, gluten and sugar free treats and I love quirky aspects of the café such as the book swap area where you can take one already there or donate one and get a free coffee – the same rule applies for magnets! They have a growing collection! Such a novel idea – i love it. My one and only gripe is that they won’t refresh tea with more hot water. Below is an ultra dense and indulgent chocolate peanut butter cake that looks tiny but was one of the few desserts which almost got the better of me as it was so rich (Fear not, after staying chatting for another two hours I re-tackled the remaining cake and powered through – never one to give up). Also pictured is a set coconut milk pudding called with two energy snack balls that I enjoyed from their Beach Canteen pop-up.

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Leopold’s of London – set on the walk at JBR I have enjoyed breakfast and lunch here. Their baked eggs are divine and staff were very good to accommodate my wheat and dairy free request and gave me some green bean side salad with my eggs rather than the usual side of bread. I really appreciated this as most venues just leave out the bread but won’t sub anything in. There is a huge selection of beautiful salads, sandwiches and sweet treats on display in their deli counter and you can watch chefs preparing food behind the glass panels. My favourite feature of this restaurant is the upstairs tea and coffee lab where staff are dressed in lab coats and busy brewing away using all sorts of crazy glass contraptions. Staff are also very well informed and the tea menu is extensive.

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The Cycle Bistro – a bit further out in Motor city is this paleo cafe located in the Cycle Hub next to Dubai Autodrome. Smoothies, breakfast, lunch & some dessert options are available. This cafe only opens until 5pm but they also do a weekly changing ‘Wednesday Night Roast’ which I have yet to try but seems to be proving popular. Personally I like this place for a healthy weekend brunch. Pictured below is the zuchinni spaghetti & fish tacos.

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One Cafe – the setting of this cafe in the Life’n’One yoga venue on Jumeirah Beach Road is truly whimsical. A beautiful tranquil garden with background music, water features, pillows and mats to sit at low tables and hanging cocoon-style chairs make this experience like no other. We lay here for hours on our visit enjoying the surroundings, soaking up some sun and reading books (they have a large bookshelf for customers to avail of). They also have free wifi and of course yoga and Pilates classes inside. I think I enjoyed the setting more than the actual food which was small for it’s price tag and for me trying to eat wheat free my choice is limited to salad or eggs. I believe they are continuously working on their menu & I look forward to these improvement as although there were a lot of gluten-free options there was little to no wheat free options. Eggs are served but I think almost all other options were vegan.

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Tom & Serg – located just a few minutes walk from the Oasis centre this place has a cult following and is always buzzing with activity. They often have pop-up events/markets (see pic from their Christmas market below) and they serve breakfast, brunch, lunch and sweets. The only criticism I would have as someone trying to order with special dietary requirements is they won’t sub any ingredients in a dish for something else – it just has to be left out. I can understand from a busy kitchen point of view this is most practical but it means for some people ordering a dish suddenly becomes very unexciting and bland when you strip away components but can’t substitute anything else in (at least not without being charged individually for each item). I was almost charged for a drizzle of pomegranate molasses on the ‘Gado’ dish I ordered as I asked for it without the peanut sauce it was meant to be served with – which contained wheat and gluten, before thankfully a watchful manager told the waiter not to charge for this. This was the only dish I could have ordered from the menu as someone avoiding wheat and dairy but it was really delicious and I have since had it again. I can’t say I will go back for a third time for the one dish though so hopefully more options will be added to their menu soon.

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The Hamptons – another Jumeirah Beach Road hot-spot, this is somewhere you will need to book ahead particularly on the weekend as they are famous for their brunches. This is definitely more of a brunch treat rather than a super healthy option but I loved my order of baked eggs, cooked perfectly medium, with truffle oil, portobello mushroom with goat’s cheese, carmelised red onions & asparagus wrapped in dried beef.

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My dining amigo loved the complimentary home-made macaroon served with her coffee.

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Tasha’s – located in the Galleria Mall on Al Wasl Road, has become a popular spot and it’s easy to see why. There is a huge selection on the menu and the food lives up to expectations. My friend and I both chose the warm butternut squash and goat’s cheese salad which usually comes with a side of avocado but as I had already ate avocado for lunch that same day, staff happily swapped this for a side of asparagus. The salad itself was delicious, my only gripe would be the four half stalks of asparagus were a slightly meagre looking on the plate and a few more would have been nice in comparison to a hearty half an avocado that they were subbed for. There are two sizes of this dish available and what you see below is the smaller option with our waiter informing us that the bigger size is more of a table-sharing option for two or more people – a nice idea.

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Omnia Gourmet – set in Jumeirah Fishing Harbour, the café was somewhat of a difficulty to locate as taxi drivers seemed to have no idea where it was! After arriving, very hungry from an early morning bou of SUP at the beach we encountered a number of difficulties on our visit. The restaurant has become known for their healthy fare and vegan choices, hence why I wanted to visit but I found their selection limited for someone trying to order dairy and wheat-free. Unfortunately on my visit in September options available seemed to be one or the other. There was a beautiful display of fresh salads and sweet treats in the main counter that I decided to order as it was now after 11am and we had had a light breakfast earlier that day, however I was refused and told they couldn’t be served at this time despite sitting readily on display. Instead we ordered smoothies, my friend the shakshuka and I the chia seed porridge. This description was somewhat misleading as I interpreted “porridge” as a warm dish as it is traditionally, but the dish that arrived was a small cold chia seed pudding with some berries & flaked almonds on top. For it’s price tag and my appetite it was much too small so I again asked staff if there was any possibility I could chose something more substantial  such as the dishes on display in  the salad counter. After a lot of discussion, multiple trips back & forth to the kitche and to other wait staff & management I was eventually given another very small portion of a vegan quiche made with cashew cream. It was tasty but very small and the series of events in the lead up to the dish made it difficult to enjoy. Perhaps my experience was an exception but I was really let down as I had such high hopes given the hype the café has received.

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Taste Kitchen – I visited the branch in Al Karama but they also have other locations including in Mercato Mall. I ordered the salmon with greens and a chilli-lime dressing. My dining amigo was dining out later so opted for an iced coffee which came in a cute glass jar with a striped straw & other friends who have visited recommend the juices. The dish was simple but tasty. Nothing fancy just good honest cooking. Staff were very friendly and I like the interiors and table set-up. The location however in Spinneys and directly opposite McDonalds is less than ideal and I’m not sure how well this concept ties in with the surrounding area.

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Tidjoori – newbie on the block. This vegan restaurant only opened earlier this week and I got the chance to stop by after winning a competition on their Facebook page for tickets to Dubai Food Carnival so I killed two birds with the one stone – nabbing my tickets and trying the food! I wasn’t feeling particularly hungry on the evening I visited but perhaps just as well as I was very disappointed by the menu choice. There is virtually nothing wheat/gluten free, as all their branded products contain wheat protein and all sorts of strange ingredients which I found really off-putting. I ordered the pea soup with beetroot crisps and fried leeks, taking the chance that the vegetable bouillon used was wheat free although, a sore stomach later that night leaves me wondering. That being said when eating the soup I did very much enjoy it particularly with the beetroot. As I couldn’t have bread with it I ordered a side of falafel (5pieces) which were part of the falafel salad which my friend ordered. However when my soup arrived the falafel didn’t – defeating the purpose of me ordering them to eat together and even though staff took the soup back into the kitchen to keep warm until the falafel were cooked it was only lukewarm when it came back out. The falafel were very good but again I thought they would be air-fried like their french fries but alas they were deep-fried. My friend also had the lentil soup which looked really hearty and I liked the dishes used to serve the soup in. The falafel salad was a little mundane though consisting mostly of falafel pieces and some leaves but nicely presented on a wooden chopping board. Staff were friendly but seriously lacking product/menu knowledge or even general question understanding which I would see as an area of concern moving forward but to be fair it is their first week in operation. I wish the restaurant the best of luck and hope that they will add more options to their menu as they continue to evolve.

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House of Curry – like all restaurants located on The Walk at JBR, you unfortunately pay for the location with your food bill and House of Curry is no exception. Tasty food but small portions for their price tag. So much so that when my friend’s chicken tikka main course arrived we thought they had mistakenly sent an appetiser to our table. Yet the bowl of rice to accompany the dish was enormous obviously this is how they intend on filling diner’s bellies. I ordered a Goan prawn coconut-based curry  and the tarka dahl. I loved the heat of the dahl with plenty of fresh chillies and spice and the prawns were juicy and succulent consisting of approx. 6 prawns.

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Gourmet Galleries Lafayette –  3rd floor, Dubai Mall. Although when normally in this neck of the woods it is to dine at the already mentioned Bestro, sometimes I like to meet friends and laze on the comfy red couches of Gourmet Galleries Lafayette. I think it is an ideal place to meet friends because their menu choice is huge and no matter what your taste or mood there is something there to suit your needs. The food is of excellent standard, well priced and staff are attentive and helpful. I like being able to walk around the various food stations and look at dishes available to order too as it helps me decide what I am in the mood for; i.e.: Indian, Asian, seafood, tapas, etc. One of my favourites is the Thai green/red curry which at 55Dhs is a steal. Normally served with rice I usually sub this for extra veggies which they incorporate into the curry.

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