Dubai Design District (D3), is one of the newest developments in Dubai, catering for the art and design community. Situated at the opposite side of the Creek to Dubai Mall, it’s fast-becoming a real hotspot, with a plethora of restaurants and cafes that are enjoyed by the creative businesses who have set up there. The challenge though, is attracting people from outside the vicinity as it is located in a slightly trickier area than say, the Marina or Downtown. On Thursday night, a good buddy and I opted to go check the area out and see what all the excitement was about.
Molecule Restaurant was where we decided to visit – a French restaurant looking to bring “bistronomy” (a portmanteau translating to casual fine-dining) to Dubai. Being a bit of a food snob, the lure of chef Udo Moreau (who has been involved with several Michelin-starred restaurants) leading the place seemed like a great way of discovering this new area.
We entered the restaurant and were immediately taken aback by the design of the place. A dramatic ceiling encompasses the room that is split up into the lounge section – where arty-types were sat working, and the restaurant – where diners were already tucking in on the various geometric tables and comfy seats. On the walls, there is also an extensive showcase of local art that is changed with regularity. We were led to our tables and took a moment to take in the interesting, quirky design features surrounding us.
The wait-staff fit in with relaxed-theme of the venue perfectly – all dressed in colourful chinos, fitted shirts and stylish trainers without a whiff of pretension in sight. Throughout the evening, it was refreshing to see the rapport they built with the customers present and our Serbian host made us feel like family with excellent banter all night long. It’s also a big plus that the restaurant is licensed and we quenched our thirsts with some unique signature cocktails – the Tom Yum Goong being a standout.
I’d heard excellent things about the Aubergine starter and despite not being a huge fan of vegetarian options when there’s seafood up for grabs, I went with it and it was a smart decision. The dish was plated artistically with refreshing pops of pomegranate complimenting the richness of the eggplant and the freshness of the labneh.
We also sampled the Sea Bream Carpaccio, although unfortunately, it didn’t hit the heights of the eggplant dish – with a texture of mushy pancakes, it wasn’t the most pleasant and didn’t have the exciting features of the first dish.
For main course, I couldn’t look past the roasted lamb rack – I must admit, I’ve not done very well in the past when ordering lamb, it does seem difficult in the UAE to source the best produce compared to the likes of the UK and Australia where it is in abundance, but thankfully this dish delivered in an impressive way. The lamb racks were plump and cooked to perfection with a rich jus that I enjoyed mopping up with my finger. On the side, I ordered the mashed potato – which in true French-style was creamy, rich and calorific.
My friend ordered the Chilean Seabass which was equally good. In stark contrast to the rich, meatiness of the lamb dish, this was a beautifully restrained dish that allowed the subtle flavours of the melt-in-the-mouth seabass to sing. Neither of us really could fault it and again the buttery lemony sauce was mopped up at the end.
To finish the night, my friend selected the “Mysterious Arabica”, a theatrical, chocolate desert with a silky-smooth coffee ice-cream that was a deliciously naughty way to end the evening – it was extremely tasty but I wasn’t a fan of the unnecessary small pear cubes hidden among the dish as I thought they added an incoherent texture.
I went with the French-classic crème brûlée – a dish delivered flawlessly, demonstrated by the satisfying crack when I plunged my spoon into the creamy depths of the ramekin.
We got the bill and headed home happy and well fed!
FOOD: 12/15 – Some excellent dishes on show – had one miss with the starter and didn’t enjoy a small element of the dessert, but overall the food was of great quality and treated with respect
SERVICE: 13/15 – Very good, friendly, approachable wait-staff with a good knowledge of the food/drinks on offer.
DRINKS SELECTION: 4/5 – We were recommended a delicious Malbec that we quoffed and the signature cocktails were unique and flavoursome.
AMBIANCE: 4/5 – A buzz in the air of happy customers, helped by the friendliness of the staff – will be amazing when it’s full.
DESIGN: 5/5 – We both loved the design, the ceiling is stunning and it’s a nice feature to showcase local artists.
VALUE: 4/5 – Good quality food at a more than reasonable price, would call the prices slightly below average for Dubai standards and with the food most definitely above average, it offers great value for money.
CONCLUSION: Molecule seems to have everything right. The staff are entertaining, the food is tasty, generous, yet fairly priced and the venue is pleasing to the eye. If you’ve yet to make it out to D3 yet, make sure you pay it a visit – it’s a great addition to the food-scene and can hopefully maintain the high-standards as it evolves.