We’ve got the three unique eats this month that you must try… and we know you will love!
Dubai has an on-going hit list of culinary concepts to abate the ever-ravenous appetites of the city’s foodie scene, but while many of the rotating concepts quiet down as quickly as they arise, there are some under-the-radar eats that may be more novel than (ok, these are some of our favourites too!) the Zuma, LPM and Coya mainstays, but have serious staying power.
Secret Menu, BB Social Dining, DIFC
Savvy diners may be aware of this multi-storey speak-easy style eatery, but it has a stronger pull than its low-key luxe vibe and Eastern-inspired flavour profile.
While setting itself apart with a concise menu that is intentionally served in individual portions – with diners encouraged to each order three to five dishes – as part of a “social dining” rather than “sharing” concept, it has also introduced a few conceptual surprises.
In keeping with its thoughtful food trend-cum-constraint consideration – think a superfood hummus mad with edamame, popcorn shrimp made entirely with cauliflower, or the 2000-daily-homemade bao everythings – Chef Alex Stumpf has used his Instagram as a tool – and the only reference to it, at that – to reveal a secret menu.
Running parallel to the usual innovative and tasty bites on offer, he flexes his culinary prowess through experimentation that provides one-offs (with occasional repeats) with whatever new, exciting or unusual ingredients he can get his hands on.
It may be for the bolder diner, but given the careful, balanced and elegantly casual dishes Chef Alex creates, it is a spontaneous risk worth taking – if you can find it.
Chef’s Table, Gaia, DIFC
Of the many exclusive VIP rooms, surprisingly Dubai has few Chef’s Table experiences – the ultimate decadent foodie experience for those who want not only what is good, but what is new.
On the lower level of Chef Izu Ani’s new Greek restaurant, Gaia – in what used to be gym changing rooms – is a long wooden table for in-the-know groups adjacent to the open kitchen where the chefs chant in tandem after orders are called and expertly prepare their seafood, meats and fresh, flavourful produce.
It is a buzzy, dynamic environment, so ready yourself for Chef Izu as he darts between the kitchen, floor and Chef’s Table with his characteristic charm and energy, explaining how to calm lobsters, recounting tales of meals in Crete that inspired the menu, all while presenting dish upon dish (upon dish) dependent on the whims of the kitchen.
With a savvy, discreet server at hand to facilitate the indulgence, what makes the Chef’s Table experience unique it is not only seeing the backbone of the kitchen through literally being in the midst of it, or even seeing the care and finesse with which the dishes are executed – it is the ability to experience what diners upstairs may not.
While signatures such as fresh feta, baby goat and raw sea bream with a trio of sauces (mandarin, lemon and truffle) will make way to the tabletop, be prepared for a few surprises which have yet to make it on the menu – a rare treat and invaluable opportunity to watch masterful creations in the making.
Le Petit Chef, Four Seasons, DIFC
Le Petit Chef – an innovative culinary concept where technology-meets-fine-dining – is a prime example of how words are never enough when it comes to requiring your sight, smell, taste and sound to truly engage and experience a meal.
Created by Belgian artist collective Skullmapping, the six-course experience in a dim, ambient room takes viewers on a journey through Marco Polo’s travels by ways of digital projections of a miniature French Chef who darts around the table comically, a continuously transforming tabletop that shifts from spice markets to Himalayan mountainscapes and sea shores, and novel presentations of refined gourmet dishes.
There is even a passport-cum-journal which makes its way across the room for diners to share their thoughts.
But while it may read gimmicky – it is far from it, retaining its adult-edge via the impressive technological experience, seamless service and delicious fare.
The dishes from each disparate geographical zone sing together rather than prove dissonant, and introduce beautifully poached lobster alongside biryani with just enough heat, lemon-yoghurt sorbet to cleanse the palette, foie gras macarons and more.
But the real highlight, the citrus crème brûlée with cardamom and pistachio for texture, perfectly combines notes from each of the stops along the way to produce a powerful finish.
United by clever portioning, playful texture manipulation, delicate flavour balancing and nuanced atmospheric touches (think sound and scent) – Le Petit Chef is amusing and engaging, where the ‘entertainment’ acts as a supporting character to the quality of the dishes, rather than stealing the show.
It is an intelligent, thoughtful concept executed with savvy on both techie and foodie fronts, which reignites – even in the most corporate of guests – a sense of curiosity and exploration.
Words by Katrina Kufer.