Something old, something new, something borrowed (although nothing blue) could sum up the food scene in Dubai. During our three day visit, we enjoyed traditional Emirati meals, outstanding Thai and Indian food, and a veritable mash-up of western and eastern cuisines.
Eating the “local breakfast” in the urban oasis that is the beautiful garden of the Arabian Tea House in the old Dubai neighborhood of Al Bastakiyah was a highlight of my visit. It is not clear to me how many people it would take to actually eat all of the food set before me but I was not up to the task. I did manage to sample everything though. Beginning with the easily identifiable pickled vegetables center left, the tray included date syrup, marmalade, fresh cheese, stewed broad beans (slightly sweet), chickpeas, fresh cheese, traditional breads, all to accompany the omelet and sweet fried noodles in the center. All accompanied by tea and dates, of course!
Siraj Restaurant defines its cuisine as Emirati Levantine served with a contemporary twist. We loved their inventive dishes, especially the salads. Our dinner there was a great counterpoint to the protein heavy meals we had enjoyed in Oman.
Most of the time when I travel, only the most authentic local cuisine will do: sublime sashimi in Tokyo and gözleme in Istanbul for example. However, on occasion, nostalgia strikes and old familiar friends (like cheeseburgers or avocado toast) are in order. Tom and Serg is an enormously popular casual restaurant in the trendy Al Quoz neighborhood. They serve breakfast all-day and lunch beginning at 11:30 with dishes from the Middle East, Europe, Australia and just about everywhere else on earth.
The coffee is outstanding, their eggs are free-range, they serve every kind of burger imaginable (crab, beef, chicken, lamb etc), and have an excellent variety of vegan and vegetarian options. For those with a sweet tooth, the options range from cronuts to lamingtons and just about everything in between. The relaxed vibe makes it the kind of place people hang out for hours on end. Salt Food Truck started with an outpost on Kite Beach and has a new location adjacent to the Dubai Mall.Their menu of sliders, fries and softies served al fresco in a (relatively) quiet courtyard is the perfect antidote to over air-conditioned stores and skyscrapers. Service is quick and they are open until the wee hours of the morning which makes it a great place for late night noshing. I washed down my “happy” charcoal lemonade (truly delicious, thirst-quenching and good for you) and available from the stand next door.
Sometime back in the late 90s, I discovered Baker and Spice on Walton Street in Knightsbridge, not far from Harrods. When we happened upon their Dubai location, we made breakfast there our first order of business the next morning. While my general rule is to only eat pancakes with “real” Vermont maple syrup, I can now attest to the equally divine “Dibs” (date syrup) as a worthy substitute! NB: the restaurant serves dinner and the outdoor seating is front row for the “dancing fountains.”
More on Dubai in my next post!