Tag Archives: DIFC

Taqado Mexican Kitchen

Taqado
Taqado opened several months ago and had always been on my mind to try. But I could never allow myself to set aside a meal to be consumed in a Mall, let alone MOE food court. Months following, when it opened in DIFC, my doorstep, I thought it was time to give it a taste. Walking into the land of men in Suits (DIFC) is constantly a pleasure. Although as I’m currently not dressed to greet any man in a suit and have 4 hungry friends waiting for me in the park I think a swift pick-up is in order. Greeted by the friendly staff, I place by broad stroking order of almost one of everything on the menu – I love doing that. And with each order a customization of rice, beans, salsa, sour cream, guacamole and cheese. Paying the bill, I most importantly collect my Snapp Points and with a team 2 Taqado staff, lug my order over to my car. Windows down and listening to Wicked Games by Para (my new play on repeated tune), I wonder why we don’t have more picnics in Dubai. With the weather nearing perfection, I make a pact to take advantage of the outdoor culture in Dubai. And with an entrance fee of AED 3, nothing could be sweeter then Safa Park. Throwing open my picnic rug, my friends arrive one by one hungry for some Mexican grub under the sun. Laying on the grass my hand reaches for the bean burrito, a meal I constantly had during my after school days. A bite into my burrito and memories of my girlfriends and I laughing come rushing through. Naively content with by bean burrito I take a bite of a special creation burrito, made of barbacoa Pulled beef, red Spanish rice, cheese, sour cream, salsa and guacamole and all other dishes fade to the background as I enjoy the flavors of Mexico. The nachos, salad, fajita and tacos all deliver on what they promise, although as a personal choice, nothing compares to a burrito. And for those crazy people who don’t eat carbs, you can get everything in a box, meaning no shell or wrapper, just the fillings in a box. A spoon full of soup in all its chunky glory and despite the 30-degree weather is a touch on the salty side but none-the-less satisfactory. Slipping out churros from its cone like a sword from its case, I drive it into the chocolate sauce and then into my mouth. Crunchy, yes, sweet, yes but after having a Maya churros my loyal taste buts don’t accept any other. With my tummy full, shades on, book in hand and toes on the grass, content is exactly the mood. Taqado does many things right, it’s a homegrown concept that offers casual and tasty Mexican food at a price that we can all enjoy. Their current locations of MOE and DIFC were a smart choice to build awareness for their brand, but for their next location, I would ask for something more inviting like Jumeirah so we can enjoy their dine-in experience.
THE DETAILS
LOCATION DIFC OPENING HRS. Sun-Thur 7-7 Fri-Sat 9-6 CUISINE Mexican PRICE PER COUPLE AED 140 TELEPHONE # 04 351 5210 WEBSITE www.taqado.com
THE FORK-O-METER
Ur Burrito Fix

Caramel

Caramel
I love my Uncle. In more ways than one, he is one of the first people to influence my pallet. He grew up in a town called Ain Al Saydeh in one of the low mountains of Lebanon. During his early days, everything was done by hand and according to tradition. Everything was seasonal. Peaches were eaten during summer, chestnuts in winter and if they were lucky the figs, the really good golden figs, would last until September. When it comes to food, some people may call him difficult or finicky but I don’t see it that way. He has tasted food before mass production and before organic was a trend, when it actually was the norm. When you’ve tasted that, why settle for something less? I’ll always praise him for wanting the best, the best of not necessarily the most expensive, not lobster, not oyster but jut the best tomato, the best cut of meat or the best nectarine. Apart from his passion for food, my uncle has a knack for quotes. Any situation that arises is a chance for him to dispel his wisdom through a quote or poetry, which I love. After having dinner at Caramel, some of my favorite quotes of his resonated with me. “Jack of all trades, but a master of none.” Being a successful restaurant that offers an international cuisine may be one of the hardest things to master. Recipes can be copied, distributed and implemented but you always know that something is lacking; the know-how that only comes from a mother or a culture. I do commend Caramel for offering such a wide variety of food. For starters we have spicy tuna rolls, Chinese chicken salad and crispy eggplant. The eggplant is battered, deep-fried and doused in the thickest sauce possible. Is there even eggplant left in this dish I ask myself? Pull back and let the eggplant shine through, roast it on the grill, drizzle some pomegranate sauce with a touch of garlic and you’re golden. Of the three choices the Chinese chicken salad is the most preferred, light and fresh. For mains we have braised hammour, petite fillet and marinated half chicken. The petite fillet is served in three thin pieces cooked to medium well. I would have preferred one large piece where I can really enjoy the center of the steak. As for dessert we have pumpkin cheesecake and dark chocolate fondant. Contrary to my dinner guests, I really like the cheesecake, it’s light and fluffy and reminds me of Thanks Giving. As for the dark chocolate fondant, melted chocolate, how can you go wrong with that? I always like recommending something at the end of my reviews, not as a restaurant owner, not as a chef and not as a critic but just as a paying customer. I have noticed that several things on the menu are fried, cheese filled, or heavily sauce drenched. Scale back, go for something fresher, lighter and more contemporary. They may say their food is comfort food but there is something called dated comfort food. “Live and Let Live” One of my favorite quotes from my uncle is "live and let live". No matter where you’re from, what religion you are, what culture of beliefs you hold I respect that them and I wouldn’t try to change them. I may be one of the most liberal people you can meet. I am all for basic freedoms of expression. I grew up in Saudi Arabia which ment I was required to wear a black abaya when I was in public. With respect to their culture I did, and never nagged about it for I was a guest in their country. But to this day when someone enforces a dress code on me, its something that I can’t and wont accept because it’s a basic freedom that I enjoy expressing. Keeping that in mind, I do have to make a comment about the uniforms for the beautiful  Caramel hostesses. They're short, low cut and have a slit up to there, is that a bit much? I always hear my guy friends talking about the Okku hostesses, statuesque and dressed in long elegant black dresses. Just something to think about elegance trumps everything and is truly remembered. “Lets do the Twist” Though a man in the later part of his life, my uncle is usually the star on the dance floor. As a teen in the 60s no one can do the twist quite like he does. I love the music at Caramel! While we were having dinner, the DJ was playing some of my favorite old school Hip Hop songs. Song after song I would be taken back to my teen years, in a house party giggling with my girl friends.  So thank you for the beautiful memories. “Yalla min Shoufkon” {Alright, we’ll see you in Arabic} Caramel is perfectly located at the heart of DIFC, I would return for the beautiful setting and lovely music, not so much for the food, but hey, everyone has their strengths in life!
THE DETAILS
LOCATION DIFC OPENING HRS. Sun-Thu 11-2 Fri-Sat 7-2  CUISINE  International PRICE PER COUPLE AED 600 TELEPHONE # 04 425 6677  
THE FORK-O-METER
Old School R&B Spot
       

Roberto’s

Roberto's
A photo journal of dinner at Roberto's with my FIODTuesdays dinner guests: Powered by the one and only Restronaut  There's no doubt the the Roberto's commands one of the best atmospheres and settings in Dubai. Mind you they don't serve the city's best food yet they are fully booked on a daily basis. Does that say something about the demands of the restaurant crowd in Dubai.  A great place to eat and be seen rather than focus on food. Guilty I am for falling into that category, whenever Roberto's is proposed for drinks or dinner I always get excited and respond with I'm in! Would they be as successful in Beirut, Paris or New York? Either way kudos to them, I know their doing something right! For a full Fork It Over Dubai review of Roberto's check out the link. Love, Tala

Wheeler’s

Wheeler's
9:00 pm… Six FIODTuesdays guests confirmed. Table booked. Seafood appetite gaged. Marco, here I come. Three months before…. Walking along DIFC I see Mr. Marco Pierre White’s intense image splashed over a billboard across from Roberto’s. On the billboard, Wheeler’s is coming soon, the best seafood experience in Dubai.  Locking my eyes to Marco (we're on a first name basis) I say “I’ll see you in a couple of months, lets see what you got!” One Tuesday Evening…. When introduced to any DIFC restaurant such as Zuma, LPM or Roberto’s you are instantly struck by the grand decore, your in DIFC after all. Walking towards the newly opened Wheelers, I’m greeted with a beautiful entrance made up of wood cladding, fresh plants and the symbolic Wheelers sign, so far so good. Stepping into Wheeler’s, waiting for my breath to be taken away, (I’m a romantic at heart) I’m left with my breath held at the tip of my throat. A hotel lobby is how I can describe the décor, rather than a DIFC restaurant. Yes I know, that’s not the most important part of a restaurant, but when you’ve got enormous competition two footsteps away to the left, right and center of you its time to bring out the big guns. Taking my seat at the table closest to the Kitchen my design doubts are somewhat appeased by a clear view into the open kitchen through mirrored columns.  Peaking through I see the head Chef manning his kitchen, it’s a stunning sight. With all 6 of my FIODTuesdays guests present, dinner can now being. Looking through the menu is a delight. It’s one page, all be it quite a large page, of their very well presented offerings.  Many restaurants under estimate the power of a well-designed menu. Menus should hold your hand through what the restaurant has to offer, not overwhelm you with too many options. As I am in the mood of a citrus kick, I order the obsiblue shrimp ceviche with aloe vera and shaved artichokes. When my dish arrives, it’s a beautiful creation to take in. Taking a bite of the shrimp ceviche my taste buds are surprised not to feel the tingle of something citrus based. Thinking I didn’t delve deep enough into my dish, I take another bite leaning more towards the center, but still, no citrus. Rather than a ceviche the dish is prepared more as a carpaccio. Though the aloe vera is an interesting combination, it's not the one I was craving. Benefiting from the company of my gorgeous guests, a bite from each of their dishes is in order. Picking up an Irish crab claw with my fingers, at times it’s the only way to eat, the garlic and white whine sauce is a delight, I end up liking it off my fingers. Although, I would make a comment that the crabmeat was a bit tough. A combination of flavors which I was introduced to in Paris this summer and which I fell in love with is beetroot, orange and raspberry. I couldn’t have been happier to taste the same flavors in the beetroot salad, perfect. Again with my fingers I dip my hand into the pot of mussels, grab one, wiggle it around the white garlic infused sauce and drop it in my mouth. Large, juicy, sea breeze inspired and one of the best I’ve tasted in Dubai. My main of oven baked code with black lentils and capers arrives. Taking a bit of the soft white meat, I realize I have a classic case of Zuma Black Code syndrome. Any code dish, irrespective of cuisine, I have had or will ever have after Zuma’s smoky perfection seems to fall short. As one of the Wheeler’s specialty the beer battered fish and chips with mint mushy peas, triple cooked chips and tartar sauce is something special. Taking a bite of the seafood bouillabaisse with tomato broth, my FIODTuesdays guest remarks that it needs a touch more seasoning. A bite from the poached and roasted loin of lam with sun-choke and malbec jus is a full-bodied and rich choice. And finally a bite of the Dover sole with nut brown butter capers, almond and lemon is my pick for a main dish as the nuttiness of the dish comes through. And for desserts, chocolate fondant, cheesecake and lemon tart. Craving my citrus fix from the start of the meal, the lemon tart indulges my need. Remembering your eyes Marco’s as I passed the billboard for Wheelers three months ago, I’ll speak directly to you. I respect you for your pricing, something that is always abused with high-end restaurants in Dubai. You can order a starter and main for AED 250, which is not bad. (Not including alcohol)  Your menu selection is diverse with veggie, seafood and meat options, but then I think, I can add a couple more dirham to that and enjoy a dinner at one of the DIFC greats. You do fill a gap in the restaurant scene in Dubai, but your Wheeler’s classics may have been too classic for me. As for your drinks and live music, lovely. If I were to return to Wheeler’s I would order cocktails, the beetroot salad and muscles as starters, continue with the dover sole and finish with lemon pie, nice and neat.
THE DETAILS
LOCATION DIFC OPENING HRS. 12 - 3:30 7 - 11:30 CUISINE Seafood PRICE PER COUPLE AED 850 TELEPHONE # 04 386 0899 WEBSITE http://wheelersdubai.com
THE FORK-O-METER
Tired of the gym? Come for a mussel fix.
     

Roberto’s DIFC

q
Stepping into Roberto's Fork It Over Dubai can feel the energy of the restaurant emanating from all directions. Well dressed patrons elbow to elbow on closely positioned white draped tables, the buzz of something new in the air and the aroma of Italian cuisine. Fork It Over Dubai: This is exactly where I want to be this evening.  Spotted, Foodiva in a beautiful red dress and Fork It Over Dubai in a beige chiffon number, same time, same place. For tonight is not going to be an ordinary review, no, but a first for Dubai - a collaboration of the greats. Our eyes meet, we greet each other with a gentle nod and proceed to our table. Fork It Over Dubai: (Glancing at Foodiva): Let's begin... Foodiva: I already have. ........ FooDiva: Wow! It’s buzzing in here, packed...like La Petite Maison. A good mix of customers. Love it. Mind you, not too keen on our table sandwiched between other diners....those corner banquettes are so much more prized [sigh]. Guess that puts play to in your face photography ce soir – dodgy i-phone here we come! Complimentary Aperol in hand [Disclosure: FooDiva was recognised on arrival], a new Italian aperitif for us both – similar but not as bitter as Campari with the acid orange cocktail chosen to match Roberto’s colour scheme we’re told - we perused the menu... FooDiva: Menu’s huge. I must admit I couldn’t resist and skimmed through it online earlier. Fork It Over Dubai: True it is huge. Though I'm a girl who likes her options, when it comes to menus, I prefer them tight and concise. After much ‘what are you thinking’ banter, neighbouring food envy and our helpful waiter’s recommendations, we placed our order, and our starters rocked up pretty pronto. FooDiva: That was quick! No it’s OK [to waiter] we can serve ourselves. Fork It Over Dubai: I would expect nothing less when they know FooDiva is in the house! A signature dish of ocean crab cake, sea asparagus tempura & light horseradish mayonnaise. FooDiva: Looks strikingly similar to Bice’s crab cake, but a smaller portion I think. Mmmm...crab’s definitely fresh and sweet, but the breadcrumb coating is a tad overcooked. I could nibble on the tempura though dipped in the mayo all night long. Fork It Over Dubai: It may have been a tad over cooked, but I am enjoying the contrasting textures between the crispy crust and the soft crab meat within. I would although ask for a more generous serving of sauce to last me throughout the whole crab cake.  Pan-seared duck foie gras, glazed pear in port wine balsamic & crispy topinambour. FooDiva: Beautifully seared and plump. Brioche freshly toasted. So light. Love, love, love. Fork It Over Dubai: Mmm like butter in my mouth and enjoying my ever so perfume-y Negroni recommended by my personal alcohol advisor.  Sicilian red shrimps, asparagus & saffron risotto. FooDiva: Loving my dirty martini and the fresh plump green olive touch. Shrimp is sweet, juicy and tender. I know we shared a portion but why just one each? Could have done with more asparagus spears too especially as they’re still in season in Europe. Perfectly al dente risotto though. Fork It Over Dubai: The best part of this dish for me is the different textures between the soft risotto and the almost crunchy shrimp. So I need more shrimp - Stat! Branzino - salt-crusted sea bass (serves two) with grilled vegetables and filleted at our table. We also ordered three sides - green asparagus in lemon oil, sautéed garlic broccoli and crispy golden potato wedges. FooDiva: Gosh it comes with vegetables [menu did in fact stipulate in teeny font]. Naughty - they should have told us not to order sides. Sea bass is so flakily fresh. The roasted vegetables [courgettes, fennel, tomatoes] are full of flavour. Love the crunchy broccoli. Asparagus a little bland in contrast with the roasted veggies. But oh no the wedges are way too under cooked and certainly not ‘crispy and golden.’ Explaining this to the waiter who muttered something about this particular brand of Aussie potato? Doesn’t ring true with me...but lo and behold, the Italian chef ushers out a new serving of potatoes which were indeed well cooked, crispy and golden. Fork It Over Dubai: Sides dishes to me, are like perfect accessories that bring a whole outfit together. Judging from these sides, my outfit would be on the "What not to wear" section of a fashion magazine. But Foodiva I agree with you, the sea bass is so far the star of my meal. Juicy, white, ever so tender fish with roasted vegetables similar to beautiful jewels as sides. Now thats an outfit I'd like to wear! Signature dessert of tiramisu.  Curry madras marshmallow, coconut ice cream, mint-sugar chocolate and bananas. FooDiva: Struggling to pick a dessert here, nothing really shouts out to me. How about the curry marshmallow? You’re the dessert queen though! Fork It Over Dubai: Alright, since you picked something contemporary, lets go for something traditional  - tiramisu it is.  FooDiva: The unusual combo of flavours intrigues me but they don’t work and it looks a mess. It’s impossible to even describe. Out of place for an Italian restaurant whose menu stays true to Italian influences – would have worked better in a high-end Indian. I wish I’d chosen the cheese platter instead - some gorgeous Italian gorgonzola and a chunk of parmesan wouldn’t go amiss! Fork It Over Dubai: Honestly the first thing that strikes me about the dessert before we even tasted it, was how fussy it was. The different colors, shapes and garnishes seems to contrast everything that is simple and Italian. The curry flavor was out of left field considering that everything up to this point was strictly Italian - not a fan. The presentation of the tiramisu is spot on and in one word - simple which is what I enjoy.  FooDiva: Service whilst hugely welcoming is a little too attentive, but then again they’ve figured out we’re reviewing. Almost too prompt, a little more time between courses wouldn’t go amiss. Looks like other tables are getting the right attention though. Fork It Over Dubai: How much is too much is tricky. But at the end of the day I would rather have an over attentive man, I mean waiter, than one who doesn't have the time of day for me.  As two Cinderellas walk out near midnight... FooDiva: Still buzzing in here – amazing. And by the looks of it mostly two seatings. It’s just a shame the lounge area [before you enter the main restaurant and bar] is dead. But we’re told that will open up with the terrace (overlooking Burj Khalifa) come winter time. Fork It Over Dubai: Can't wait for that.  The team at Roberto’s handed us a comment card, so we thought we’d share the completed form with you here instead. The overall quality of food and attention to service is very evident at Roberto's. The strongest pull back factor that Roberto's has is its atmosphere, its a place where you can really feel the vibe and electricity of the Dubai city life. I know Roberto's will have a bright future in the Dubai restaurant scene. Check out Foodiva's Review of Roberto's HERE!
THE DETAILS
LOCATION DIFC OPENING HRS. 12 - 3pm, 7 - 11:30pm CUISINE Italian PRICE PER COUPLE AED 1,000 TELEPHONE # 04 3860066 WEBSITE http://www.robertos.ae/
THE FORK-O-METER
A Craving Quencher Restaurant
     

The Gramercy

The Gramercy
Having heard a new restaurant/bar outlet had opened in DIFC that could give both Caramel and Zuma some competition, I was intrigued. Although following that delectable piece of news, I learnt that it was a sports bar; a sports bar I thought to myself, competition to Zuma and Caramel - hmmm? Images of sports bars in Dubai flashed through my head such as Fibber Magee’s and Loca. Pushing open the doors of the Gramercy I asked my friend “Is this the right place?” I was welcomed by glorious high ceilings, a beautiful chic/contemporary interior and a feeling of nice!!! Looking through their strategically concise menu (my biggest bet peeve are menus that are nothing short of novels) my eyes pleasantly run though offerings that were far from your typical bar food such as salmon, risotto, entrecote, calamari, cordon bleu, chocolate tart; an underlying French brasserie tone to their offerings is evident. At this point my mind was confused, all signs pointed to sports bar with black and white photos of sports figures, sports memorabilia and out of this world large TV screens, while all signs also pointed to not a sports bar with high ceilings, intelligent food offerings and a beautiful decor. As my mind quickly tried to categorize what the Gramercy was, by comparing it to the existing restaurants in Dubai, I came to the realization that it doesn’t currently exist! I am sitting in one of Dubai’s rare but original one of a kind restaurant outlets. Gone are the days when watching any type of sporting event had to come with a side order of inedible bar food, lack of oxygen due to smoke inhalation and sports bar grunge. Finally! My French onion soup arrives; which is typically my favourite comfort food. Sipping my spoonfuls of the broth and feeling the warmth as it goes down my throat I have to say I am greatly comforted! My next courses arrive in frenzy; goat cheese salad, entrecote and two simple yet vital sides of ratatouille and broccoli. My goat cheese salad has an interesting contrast with the soft honey-like dressing compared to the sharp goat cheese. The entrecote is beautifully presented and accompanied by golden/ideal/crispy fries – my Achilles heel. The sauce is creamy, well seasoned and an absolute must with each bite. My cheese cake and crème brulee arrive; although I expected the cheese cake to be less firm than it was my crème brulee was a delight. Next dessert pick is definitely the chocolate tart. The Gramercy also has Tuesday’s Ladies nights, Jazz Nights and Game nights. More than just your typical Zuma/Caramel swanky after work destination, The Gramercy proves to be something different. It’s that third place; not your house or your work but that third place you go to to hang out, enjoy and be yourself. And this one comes with a side order of great food, drinks and beautiful people. Location: DIFC. Price per Couple: AED 400. Opening Time: 12 pm to 2 am. Tel: 04 4437 7511. Licensed.

La Petite Maison

La Petite
Stepping into La Petite Maison my party of two gorgeous girls and I are instantaneously transported to up town Paris. From the interior, the paintings on the wall, the oversized flower vase to the French restaurant manager sporting his oh-so French moustache – aka a black line over his lip. At the center of our table, instead of a candle or a flower, three plump, ripe tomatoes and a lemon – interesting change. As we take our orders from our two paged concise menus, I can’t help but notice the frenzy of liveliness, conversation, buzz and excitement that all come together and make up one of the best restaurant atmospheres that I have seen in Dubai. Our starters of beef carpaccio and warm prawns in olive oil and basil arrive. The beef carpaccio is topped with a drizzle of olive oil and black pepper. Unfortunately that’s all I can seem to taste - the toppings rather than the beef itself. Slightly disappointed, I turn to my prawn dish hopping to be tastily reimbursed – and I am. True it’s a fairly simple dish, but I enjoy elegantly simple over anything complicated. The combination of the basil and prawns blossome my appetite like it is the begging of spring. A complementary string bean salad soon follows, made up of el dente string beans, an oil based dressing and slices of tomato and foie gras. True foie gras is made up of baby duck liver, a comment one of my dinner dates make, but all I can think is Oh Baby it tastes to good to care.   Next come our mains of lamb cutlets, trudo fish and truffle based rigatoni pasta. Trying scoop up my portion of fish proves to be mission impossible. Rather than being a fillet of tender white meat it was a fillet of hard, spiky, chunky bones. Its taste is lost in the bad aura of its lack of ease of consumption. The lamb cutlets on the other hand are seasoned, cooked and presented to perfection. The mustard based sauce on the side is an excellent compliment. And finally, the best for last, the heaven on a place, the whatever else sayings you can think of were coined just for the rigatoni pasta dish. The dish is composed of lusciously creamy white sauce, el dente fresh rigatoni pasta and wait for it… fresh shavings of real truffles. I’m a complete and utter sucker for anything truffle based. Each bite dances its way around my mouth and all the way down my throat until I can’t wait but put another bite in my mouth. Our apple tart is crisp and beautifully presented. The crème caramel has the perfect layer of crispy, caramelized sugar coating the vanilla infused, supple custard below. And finally our French toast - not just any toast you’d have for breakfast but one fit for royalty. It oozes luxurious ingredients, golden bread, real butter, sugar and cinnamon. Each bite was as rich as a bite of steak but as light as a macaroon. La Petite Maison is based on a sharing concept and with exceptionally small portions, so sharing more and ordering more is a must. I think to myself what an ideal restaurant for my more than abundant male friends who have an undying fear of commitment. An environment that encourages you to dabble a bite from here taste a bite form there and never commit to one dish. I always rate the success of a restaurant on the propensity as to which I recommend it to others. With La Petite Maison I felt I was recommending it left, right and center. When in La Petite Maison your orders should include the warm prawns in olive oil, the truffle pasta and the French toast – the remaining dishes are your choice.
THE DETAILS
LOCATION: DIFC OPENING HRS: Sun Thurs 7 - 11 CUISINE: French PRICE PER COUPLE: AED 700 TELEPHONE # type  04 439 0505  
THE FORK-O-METER
A Love At First Site Restaurant