Can we all admit we are a bit spoiled in Dubai? There are new restaurants all the time. There are fantastic properties and one of a kind experiences at every turn. And if all that wasn’t enough, a high concept restaurant like Enigma (The Untold Story) comes along and offers a rotation of some of the world’s top chefs. Although I (quite sadly) missed Chef Quique Dacosta’s Vanguard, I was excited by the premise Chef of Bjorn Frantzen’s (hashtag) ‘Journey of a Nordic Chef’ as (also hashtag) ‘the Vikings sail to Dubai.’ After all, it is a special treat to eat exquisite Nordic cuisine in the middle of the desert. (Ironically, my first foray into Nordic cuisine was at Noma…so, I guess when I eat Nordically, I eat VERY well.)
Mr. Patrick Robineau, the hotel manager, says, “Enigma was conceptualized to emulate the very nature of our current lifestyle; fast-paced, versatile and dynamic. Always innovating, evolving and creating anticipation. We want Enigma to be an exceptional dining experience people crave and yearn to keep up with, just like other highly desired commodities.”
Having never been to the Palazzo Versace (but certainly remember how long it took to be built…), the porte–cochère and lobby were more understated than I expected. The restaurant is located down a hall off the main lobby (as are the restrooms
why no one here wants to include a set of toilets within the confines of the restaurant in the Middle East is beyond me). Checking in at a small reception area, a pocket door opens to reveal the venue — a small dining room, decorated in a rather minimalist style. During our visit, we enjoyed a nice glass of bubbles on the terrace outside before taking our seats for the meal. Nods to the Versace brand are found in small details on the glasses. Tres chic!
The concept for the menu is straightforward. Diners are invited to sample a selection of the best of the various menus Chef Frantzen has provided in the past few years (exclusively from his Restaurant Frantzen). As it turns out, the former footballer, Top 31 restauranteur and receiver of two Michelin stars Chef Frantzen knows exactly what he’s doing.
So, what can you expect at this version of Enigma? Expertly crafted dishes. The highest level of service. An intimate dining experience unlike anything else on offer in the Emirates (I might even go so far as to say the rest of the GCC).
While there were many highlights on the menu, in my opinion, top courses included: white moss ‘sushi’ with deer, frozen bird’s liver, burnt hay & chantarelles, scallop in its own shell served with dried roe, fir tree, finger lime and ‘dashi,’ and of course, the soup. Now friends, I’m sure you’ve had a nice soup in your day, but for the time being, this will be the soup with which all other soups are judged. It was equal parts everything — savoury, creamy, with a perfect amount of crunch and sweetness. Made of almonds and other deliciousness, you’ll know it when you taste it. I’m not lying when I say we begged (more than once) for another serving!
Not wanting to give the entire experience away (I’m sure you can research further should you want to know all the dishes in advance), I’m only going to share a few of the plates below. While there are limited notes I would give on a few of the courses, overall, my dining partner and I were struck by just how cohesive a meal this was. As a poor comparison, much like a musical has refrains and melodies repeat in various forms throughout a score, there was a similar note throughout the meal. I point this out because I can’t remember the last time I had such an experience. While the ingredients are unique, more than anything, I would encourage you to dine at Enigma based on the creativity, simplicity, and delivery of the work of a master chef.
It won’t be the cheapest date in town, but think of it this way — you’ll get a meal from one of the best chefs in the world and you won’t have to spend money on an airline ticket. Sounds like an absolute bargain to me!
And so the newest iteration is in town for an exclusive run. Will you book? If so, do it quickly, Chef Franzen and team are only in Dubai through June 30, 2016. Reservations via firstname.lastname@example.org or +971 4 556 8888
(And if you do go, will you bring me some soup?)
A to Za’atar was a guest of Enigma for the evening. Opinions are my own. A note to any PR professionals — when inviting the media to your restaurant or property, it certainly does not hurt to squire them to said event in a Maserati… Special thanks to Royal Falcon Limousine for their exceptional driving services.