It was Thursday, it had been a tough week at work for the missus, so I decided to take her out for date night. The brief was “somebody where all the influenzas in Dubai aren’t invited to, that is new and hot” so my good friend Zoe (The Luxeologist) advised I give David Myers’ new French Farmhouse-style restaurant in the Renaissance a go.
Apologies for the lack of visuals. If I’m going out for date-night with the wife and paying for it myself, I don’t like to ruin the vibe taking photos. Sometimes, I can nick images from the restaurants Instagram (credited of course!), but alas, on this occasion, nothing I ate was on their page!
We arrived at 8pm at the restaurant’s soon-to-be-iconic blue doors and entered through an elevator taking us up to the first floor. I must admit, I did find it weird as the ground floor has a desk and cosy-lobby like feel, so I’d expect to see a greeter there waiting to take us up, but she was at the top of lift waiting for us – not really an issue, just an observation.
We were greeted extremely warmly and were led through the restaurant to our table, overlooking the lobby of the hotel. The restaurant inside is absolutely stunning. The kitchen is all open, the focal point being the huge, josper oven that you can feel the warmth from if you sit nearby and it’s interesting to be able to see all the chefs hard at work throughout the meal. The place was nice and busy as well and there was a positive buzz in the air.
They’ve captured the farmhouse feel perfectly with the comfortable, mismatched chairs looking quaint, paired with the gorgeous wooden tables that are styled with watchmakers precision; beautiful, vintage candlesticks, complete with the wax-drippings of many-a-meal gone by adorning the tables alongside carefully selected cutlery and crockery. The ceiling is strewn with dramatic chandeliers with warm-glowing light emanating from within that give the venue a highly pleasant aura. At the far end of the restaurant is a spectacular, wooden spoon feature wall that will satisfy all the instagrammers. The tables are also spaced out so you don’t have to listen to every word of your neighbour. It’s obvious that money has been spent on a very competent design team – very much appreciated by my interior architect wife.
After we sat down, our bubbly, friendly host came over and brought us the menu. Again, lots of thought had gone into the beautiful, custom menus, they were bound in leather with the restaurant name inscribed. Worlds apart from La Mome’s Paperchase homemade jobbies. We started off with a couple of glasses of bubbles whilst we mulled over the food.
The whole culinary spread was across two pages and was a cohesive, Mediterranean affair (with perhaps more Italian options than I was expecting for a “French” restaurant). The pricing was about average for Dubai, nothing stood out to be unreasonable and it was pleasing to see that all the prices included service, VAT and other taxes. There’s nothing worse than getting stung with an extra 25% at the end of the meal.
We started off with the Butter Poached Lobster Risotto and the Basil Pesto Ravioli (how French!) and opted for the Lamb Shoulder and Charred King Prawns for mains. All sounding divine, despite not being necessarily French.
The service team picked up on that we were sharing the starters, so presented the small, delicately plated dishes one after the other. The ravioli was incredible. Perfectly al dente, packed with sweetness, sourness, saltiness, umami-ness – it was a stunning start to the evening. After we finished, we got some clean plates and tucked into the lobster – equally good, the lobster was poached immaculately and the risotto was creamy, rich with a subtle truffle hit. Without doubt one of the best starts to a meal we’ve ever had in Dubai.
After we finished our bubbles, we asked for a couple of wine recommendations. The wine “expert” came over, but it was slightly disappointing as he didn’t seem to have the same knowledge of the wine list as the service team had on the food list. He had to read off the menu a couple of times but in all fairness, managed to recommend a good, well-priced red and white to go alongside our mains.
Around 10 minutes after our plates were cleared for starters, the mains came, both looking beautiful. Three torched, plump and juicy looking prawns sat on the wife’s plate, whereas I had a fat, chunk of succulent lamb shoulder.
The wife absolutely adored her main. The prawns were cooked fantastically, juicy and creamy and tasted fresh off the BBQ, it’s definitely one of those dishes that will become one of the icons of the restaurant. My lamb shoulder was good, but I found it’s flavour a little bland and underseasoned over all, it was such a thick slab, once I got to the heart of it, it lost some of its impact. The celeriac remoulade and the garlic and herbs brought some excitement to it, but about half-way through, I was a little bit “over it” and was more bothered about gawping over at the wife’s cracker of a dish.
For dessert, we went with the trifle; a gargantuan take on grandma’s classic. It’s rich, it’s creamy, it’s moreish. We failed miserably at trying to demolish it, but as a couple of people who don’t really like the classic trifle, it hit the spot!
We finished our final drinks, paid up and thanked the crew for a cracking night. We’re already planning another trip back soon and would highly recommend it for somewhere to go for a date, or even just for some great food and drinks with friends.
FOOD: 13/15 – Overall great, concise menu with excellently cooked food.
SERVICE: 14/15 – All the staff we encountered were friendly and attentive, the only mark lost was due to the sommelier not been quite on his game.
DRINKS SELECTION: 4/5 – Not the most extensive wine list in Dubai, but still very strong with some good, French options. They have a decent selection of beers, spirits and cocktails too.
AMBIANCE: 5/5 – The environment they’ve created is warm, cosy and trendy. The music is on point and everyone in the restaurant seemed to be having a top night.
DESIGN: 4/5 – The actual aesthetics of the place are superb, our only slight criticism was that we felt the bar could have possibly been placed a little better and the venue might be slightly too big for the number of tables it holds.
VALUE: 4/5 – It was over 1000 AED for the meal for two, but I was happy to pay it due to the excellent quality of the food and service.
TOTAL: 44/50 – One of the hottest new restaurants in town and for good reason. I hope they keep up the good work and become a long-running Dubai institution a la LPM.