Intersect has a small place in my heart. When I first started converting my passion of eating good food around the world into actual writing, I was invited to an event that was attended by some of the UAE’s blogging elite. It is where I met Zoe Bowker (tablenumber7.com) who further down the line introduced me to “A to Za’atar” where over brunch at Ruya, they bullied me into segueing from the limitations of magazine writing to writing my own blog – and here we are today.
The name “Intersect by Lexus” doesn’t conjure up many thoughts of dining and when I was invited to the previous event, my assumption was that it was just an event space or at most – a cafe in the same style as the Bentley cafe in Media City. It’s an unusual space, the main restaurant is very cosy with maybe 20 tables max and it looks more like a cafe that you’d expect to find attached to a high-end bookstore. I appreciate how that description could be perceived as negativity – but it’s not, take a look:
The light feature gives the space a warm ambiance and the wooden wall features are always a talking point for newbies, the ceiling was also interesting, a stylish wave effect that enveloped the whole restaurant. My only complaint was the rug down the middle – I’m sure it was great when it was first installed, but it’s now looking very grubby and could do with replacing.
The wife and I were accompanying our now good friend A to Za’atar with some of her family and friends and I could see why the venue was picked. If you’re with a group of people where you just want to talk without screaming at each other, it’s perfect. There’s a live duet who provide some pleasant background music throughout the afternoon and with most of the food getting brought to the tables, it allows you to socialize very easily.
The menu comes in 3 options:
AED 195 (unlimited soft beverages)
AED 295 (unlimited hops & grape beverages)
AED 495 (unlimited bubbly)
The unlimited hops & grape package is definitely the way forward; good value for under 300 AED and they do actually serve good wines and the beer choice is Asahi – a step above the usual Heineken and Budweiser crap you get served in most house beverage packages. The unlimited bubbly option is a bit of a joke though – bubbly should be champagne – especially when there’s a 200 AED-a-head premium for it, but all it is, is Prosecco – which you can pick up at Barracuda for about 50 AED a bottle. They need to either bring this down to 395 AED or serve Moet or something similar to justify the extra expense.
It’s worth noting, that the place is including in the Fine Dining Entertainer, so if you split the prices in half, it’s remarkably good value.
The food options are the same for everyone – there’s a buffet salad station and all the other starters are brought to the table where you can order as many as you want. You pick one main from the menu, then the desserts work in the same way as the starters. It was hard to really pin down one cuisine to describe what’s on offer but there’s a healthy theme running throughout the menu, lots of fresh ingredients with many dishes accompanied with gluten free alternatives to standard gluten-y things.
We began over at the salad buffet and it was a solid start to the afternoon, lots of fresh, delicious ingredients to tailor a salad to your taste-buds. The beetroot with ricotta and chickpea and hazelnut being my personal favourite – I’m not sure if it was deliberate, but I absolutely loved the playfulness of the chickpea/hazelnut combo; mixed in with all the other elements of the salad, it was tricky to determine which were the chickpeas and which were the nuts, so it was almost like sitting with a bag of revels wondering if you’re going to get some crunch or smoothness in the next bite.
The starters began to arrive at the table and again, I was pretty impressed. The crudites and hummus had a nice edge to them with the use of the black chickpeas, the gazpacho was tangy and refreshing with the addition of the pomegranate granita and the lentil pate was rich and satisfying on the wholesome buckwheat crackers. The tapioca bread with beef pancetta went down tremendously well across the table as it resembled in taste and texture, the classic Yorkshire pudding.
I think my favourite (that actually wasn’t a sentiment shared by the other diners) was the carrot emulsion and yoghurt on the sunflower crouton. The carrots tasted incredible – so packed with flavour and it all so worked together into a delectable bite of food. The squid and sweetcorn received a mixed reception across the group, but I found it to be cooked extremely well and thought as a dish, it was texturally fantastic – the crunch of the rice, the pop of the sweetcorn and the juicy squid a delight in the mouth, I think it was just missing a squeeze of lime or maybe a hit of chili to elevate it to dizzying heights.
Finally, the starters finished with the cured salmon with cucumber and pickled fennel and the gyoza. Both good dishes, but maybe lacking the “edge” and “twists” that some of the other starters had. Overall though, our group of 10 were significantly impressed by the dishes as a whole.
Next up we ordered our main courses and waited for the table to finish off the remaining starters. At this point we were all having an enjoyable time – deep in conversation, with the excellent duo providing a serene backdrop of music – for me, this is what brunches are about. Maybe I’m just getting old, but no longer do I want to have a crazy piss-up where I drink potent cocktails out of a watermelon and end up in Barasti, I want to sit with good company, have a laugh, enjoy a few drinks and eat some tasty food and Intersect has got the vibe spot on.
Sadly, the main I had didn’t quite hit the heights of the starters – I went with the flank steak, but the dish was completely missing that special touch that made so many of the starters memorable. It came as a mini roast dinner, the steak was medium-well and had a big piece of fat that ran all the way through it, the broccoli was insipid, the roast potatoes didn’t have the crispness and the gravy was nothing to shout about. It was fine, but in comparison to the rest of the meal, it was the low-point so far.
The wife had the risotto which tasted wonderfully but was stodgy and gluggy – not the beautifully creamy risotto you’d expect from a team who can obviously cook very well. Another one of our diners was brought the wrong main and the waitress insisted it was what she ordered and she was wrong – which was a facepalm moment, but was eventually resolved and the replacement was brought quickly and to be fair, was the only example of iffy service throughout the afternoon.
The desserts were brought to the table once we’d all finished mains, the lemon mousse and fruit compote was a real standout, albeit it being more or a yoghurt! It was exceptionally smooth and tangy and everybody finished theirs around our table. The brownie was too dry which was disappointing and the cheesecake was your standard, average baked affair – the base lacking any kind of crunchiness to compliment the creaminess. The fruit smoothie was probably the strangest dish of the day – it tasted like a Christmas egg-nog rather than a fruit smoothie – loaded with spice, it didn’t compliment anything else and nobody finished theirs on the table.
Before I wrap things up, it would be prudent not to mention the downstairs area where the toilets are – firstly, the toilets are straight from Japan so expect a well-warmed seat or even an ass massage whilst doing your thing! The space is stunning, a wall lined with toy cars and a see-through floor that shows of parts of the Lexus cars makes it a must visit, even if you don’t need to go.
We finished up our last drinks orders and paid the bill – no issues with honouring our vouchers and we left feeling happy, ready to take the party to the next venue.
FOOD: 11/15 – The starters and salad were the standouts – however, some work is needed on the mains and desserts. Nothing was bad though and most dishes were cooked well.
SERVICE: 11/15 – Unfussy but efficient, all our drinks stayed topped up and just one blip with getting one of the group’s main wrong.
DRINKS SELECTION: 3/5 – For a brunch, they offer a nicer beer than usual (Asahi) and the group enjoyed the wines. For an extra 200 AED though, the prosecco is not worth it.
AMBIANCE: 4.5/5 – A really good environment to converse with friends and the music was the perfect accompaniment
DESIGN: 4/5 – Unusual, cafe-like feel but has some interesting light fittings and wall features. Sort the grotty rug out though!
VALUE: 3.5/5 – For the house drinks package, it would be a 5/5 but to charge 200 AED more for prosecco? Extra .5 for it being in the Entertainer!
CONCLUSION: A solid brunch overall, warm atmosphere and some excellent dishes throughout. A few improvements could be made on the mains and desserts but if you want a good value brunch, that’s comparatively healthy to others, in a comfortable environment with lovely ambiance, it’s a classy place to be.