It goes without saying there a lot of terraces and outdoor spaces which go unused during the summer months. Enter the Treehouse, at the Taj Hotel in Business Bay, which has adapted into a clever ‘greenhouse’ of sorts. While the physical structure interrupts some of the better views of the Burj Khalifa, it is a creative take and one that allows for use of the open plan bar until it cools down again. The La Guinguette Brunch was initially launched in the spring, and not much, other than the timing, has been put forward to update the offering. (For those who were wondering, as I was, La Guinguette appears to refer to popular drinking establishments located in the suburbs of Paris and other cities in France (with the height of popularity being sometime in the 18th century)).
As a venue, from the website:
Treehouse is an urban hideaway for effortlessly chic people of taste. With its rich Renaissance décor, lush furnishings and ornate trees, this decadent rooftop lounge is styled as a house turned inside out.
You will find our playful hideaway located in the Burj Khalifa’s back garden with uninterrupted views of the World’s tallest tower which never fail to lend a sense of the sublime.
Feast on an artful menu of Mediterranean bites whilst creative mixologists fashion elixirs and potions with a penchant for smoke & vapour; all the while a soundtrack of soulful lounge beats exudes the ever-present promise of a place on the verge of a party.
Guys, for real, I want to start writing copy for bars and clubs in town. Anywho, this is what the above translates to (mind you, you have to walk through Tesoro to get here, which is kind of totally awkward):
The ‘lunch’ is clearly a holdover from cooler days, as the first thing which is brought out to us is a charming picnic basket containing bread, cheese, cold meats, beef salami, hummus, Arabic bread, smoked salmon, ceviche and inexplicably, guacamole. While a fun design feature, I have no doubt the basket is meant to 1) take up time 2) fill up space in your stomach. As longtime foodies, my friend and I took a little sample of each and then moved on. Am I being critical? Yup, but honestly, there are so many delicious treats on the menu, I would do as we did and jump straight to the ala carte menu by placing a few orders immediately (or skip the basket entirely). Other than the retro cuteness of it, there was nothing that stood out about the basket (and some pita points or tortilla chips wouldn’t go missing to better consume the guacamole). Additionally, for two people, this basket caused a bit of avoidable food wastage.
As we did our best to unpackage the large basket, we turned our attentions to the alcoholic offerings. Although I love Veuve (it’s my absolute favorite champagne on the planet), for this evening, we decided to try some of the cocktails on offer (oh, the sacrifices I make for this blog). Although they are not detailed, the list is relatively short. I ordered one of my favorites, a Mojito, which was perfectly crafted. We also tasted the Treehouse Punch (…far too sweet, in the sense that there were fruit elements and a lot of what seemed to be vanilla) and the TRA, which was like drinking some sort of boozy health drink (all of the earthiness and none of the rum — so unenjoyable that we sent it back). Also on the list, an Espresso Martini (which I had towards the end of the meal) and a Bloody Mary. While I like a selection, I think there is indeed a lot of room for improvement here, and I would suggest the following: start over and go with a summer martini (watermelon or berries), a G&T (honestly, a classic) and a Cape Cod, nothing too complicated. After cocktails, we switched over to white wine, which paired well with the meal. For those who regularly read this blog, Voss water was poured.
No further comments.
In the ala carte selections, I liked the variety… To the point there was almost too much on offer (I just checked, and there are 19 dishes to choose from). We started with burrata with tomatoes and truffle, pecorino and pine nuts flat bread, both lived up to presentation and taste. Moving on, it was suggested we try something off the grill — while I looked longingly ahead at how much else there was to try, we agreed to grilled chicken, beef and avocado, with the avocado (grilled and not quite battered but heavily spiced) as my favorite.
Back to the ala carte menu, I knew the truffle tempura lobster was in my future and far and away my stand out dish for the evening. (Furthermore, If this looks familiar, it’s because the Treehouse and Tesoro share a kitchen, so the team prepares both menus). Sweet, perfectly seasoned and a generous portion of lobster is basically all I could ever ask for on any menu.
And after these courses, we settled back for a bit of a chat. Keeping an eye on the clock (time flies when you’re having fun), around 8 PM (the brunch officially ends at 9 PM), we placed orders for both steak and salmon tartare, along with Hoisin duck pancakes, Short rib mini burgers and a few desserts. As it currently does not cool down much below 35C in the evening, I’m not entirely certain tartare (or other dishes that should be served cold, to stay cold) is the best option. It was fine, equal parts fatty and salty, however, much like the guacamole, it might have been nice to have a cracker, or something to serve the portion on and give some texture.
Would I return? At the beginning of the evening, I was pretty much in the camp of ‘not for me,’ but by the end of our meal, I thought this would be a fun experience — especially for a big group (and I noticed there was seating for larger parties). It might be worth noting that, maybe due to the lack of publicity, but we were the only ones to take up this night brunch offer. All of the other guests were simply there to drink and enjoy the view.
My biggest suggestion would be to sort out the drinks, dial back the amount of dishes available, and scrap the picnic basket. The structure is in place for a good night out, it just needs to be fine-tuned a bit. Furthermore, either fit the menu onto one page (columns, people) or print front and back and laminate. Again, I’m being a bit critical, but it’s these small details that set apart places in a market where we are all spoiled for choice.
Interested in the cost? Prices are a little steep AED445 (with cocktails) and AED545 (with Veuve). This is more expensive than many brunches, however, given the quality of food, I think the value is there.