UAE

The Cle to making a local feel like a tourist in Dubai

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“Happy is he, who recognizes and savors umami.”

A better synonym for a cultural melting pot would probably be Dubai.  This emirate has witnessed various food businesses sprout from a mere idea and materialize into something much bigger than ‘some place nice’ when it comes to dining out.

When I first heard about Clé Dubai introducing a modern Middle Eastern concept, I thought to myself, “That’s a bit of a risk considering the market here. Maybe we’ll have to wait and watch.” It took me a dinner at this blossoming restaurant to realize that one might not be able to reinvent the wheel, but one can definitely re-introduce the hummus to the Middle East.

Spearheaded by the (awfully) down to earth celebrity chef and author, Greg Malouf, the team at Clé Dubai will not fail to impress. On a scale of affable to ‘cross that yellow line and I will eat you like a mantis’, Chef Greg can be described as someone who’s quite approachable. He always makes it a point to interact with the guests every once in a while and sometimes even encourages them to watch their food being engineered, crafted and soulfully plated (in that precise order).

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The kiwi mojito and minty melonade were rather refreshing (especially if you’re seeking an escapade from the sultry outdoors). The presentation and blend leaves you giving crab eye glances at your tall glass – very simple, yet elegant.

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It’s not the familiarity of the flavors but the orchestrated presentation of key ingredients to bring out an unexpected flavor that makes each dish a doozie. Try the Persian salad coupled with taftoon bread to see what I mean. The sesame studded bread when mopped with the finest creamy hummus will leave you guessing the ingredients- ergo the emphasis on orchestration.

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It was a pretty good idea to include figs in this dish alongside the fried halloumi. You may come across a few edible flowers as well and no, they are not meant to be placed in your hair.. ever.

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Seafood lovers, you do not want to miss out on the sea bass enveloped in walnuts tarator, chili and coriander. The delicate katefi pastry that accompanies it will surely amuse you. This dish, like a few others on the menu, strikes all five dimensions of taste. The fish was tender yet cooked through and the mix of texture added to the glamour of this dish. I could not help but wonder whether there was a metaphorical ‘snake and ladder’ on my plate. Either way, it went down the chew chute.

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When you hear stone roasted, the first thing that might come to your mind might either be portions of meat or poultry. The stone roasted (super-size me) gulf prawns served with angel hair noodles and chermoula will leave you.. you guessed it, guessing!

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Like I said, the menu has been rather cleverly designed. The marinade seeps through the prawn while pockets of noodles encompasses it. Halloumi fritters in saffron and the Italian tomato salad are a few other noteworthy mentions. They make excellent sides without overpowering any of the flavors.

Dried strawberries that were meticulously arranged to resemble a camel greeted me atop the Pavlova with Amalfi lemon posset. The airy meringue melts in your mouth without allowing the crunch factor from the nuts to get in the way. Perfect delivery and balance all the way.

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What I really appreciate about this restaurant is the team’s willingness to take one through the menu and explain the dishes individually. Their flexibility with the ingredients makes them even more accommodating.

The dishes help one revisit a familiar flavor from a different perspective and I believe that is what Clé Dubai is all about.

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The interiors carry a certain aura with them, which unfortunately turns to background noise when dinner meets the diner.

Troy Payne, Jessica Weeks, and Matt Crozier are a few other pillars working behind the scenes alongside Chef Greg Malouf in the kitchen. The coordination exhibited in the kitchen truly is a sight for sore eyes with everyone working shoulder to shoulder. Nicolas Pierre, the General Manager has done a brilliant job with the overall management of this project!

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And now for the verdict:

Ambiance and decor: Good
Service: Excellent
Wait time: Good
Menu presentation and design: Good
Food: Excellent
Value for money: Excellent
Overall dining experience: Excellent

Comestible regards,

Judy Sebastian

P.S.  Before I conclude this blog, here are a few behind-the-scene moments captured in a few snapshots.

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