Full stop, I have a special relationship with the Jumeirah Emirates Towers. In 2007, we had been in country 11 days, when I got a job in the office towers (42nd floor, no less). From 2008-2009, a friend and I would stop in weekly at the Agency for their ladies night specials. In 2010, I nearly accepted another job in the office towers and in 2013, I finally had the chance to stay in the hotel (excellent, in case you were wondering). In between my trips to this property were (many) visits to Harry Ghattos. Without question, the Emirates Towers are iconic and one of my favorite destinations in the city.
Walking through the corridor, I note how the Boulevard has changed (Scarletts to The Ivy, for example) and thus find myself at La Cantine du Faubourg, yet another iteration of the ever-changing roster of restaurants. As a ‘celebrated Parisian institution’ I didn’t even know existed in Dubai, I was happy to easily find a seat for lunch on Thursday afternoon. Passing by the private dining area (which looked to be quite chic) and the lounge (quite spacious for Dubai), I took a seat inside (yes, the heat has arrived). After some discourse with the server (we had to confirm I was eligible for the lunch deal — worth fighting for at AED105), I ordered a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, observed the restaurant and read my book.
The interior currently showcases the artwork of Ms. Nadine Kanso. According to the ‘art attack’ portion of the restaurant’s website, ‘her message is a message of optimism, written out in the ancient art of calligraphy, throughout her photography, collages and now, the walls of La Cantine du Faubourg. This creative dialogue masterfully confronts issues of cultural identity, offering very personal insight yet allowing room for the individual to ponder.’ While I do not profess to be an art expert, I did think the exhibition enhanced the overall ambiance of the restaurant. I’d be curious to see who the management will bring in next. Her artwork blends well with what I’m calling ‘ Beverly Hills chic.’ While the venue may be trying to pull off a French look and offers, the Angeleno in me says otherwise.
Unfortunately, I think too much attention might have been paid to the decoration and not enough to the food. While this is a lovely venue to look at, what about eating? Based on my plates, it was an altogether average experience. While both my starter and main were well executed (good temperature, seasoning as expected, pleasant presentation), I was whelmed by the experience. Officially, the fried calamari was as expected (if a bit too large a portion for my liking). And really, what can be done to elevate this sort of dish? I’ve had better in my life, and I’ve had worse. I did enjoy a crusty, hot piece of bread from the offered bread basket (but would’ve liked butter to be served with it, if I am being picky). For my main, grilled salmon (on a bed of greens) the fish was cooked perfectly to my liking, however, the greens were quite salty (to the point where I debated sending them back). Based on these two courses, I was not tempted to try a desert.
In the end, I don’t think I would return, unless it was for cocktails. It’s such a shame — I really wanted to like this place!!
The bill (with 1 glass of wine, no water, and hospitality charges) came to AED195 which…feels okay, much like meal itself.