While the sister property and I didn’t have the best introduction, I’ve always been curious about STAY by Yannick Alleno at the One&Only The Palm (in case you were wondering, that stands for Simple Table Yannick Alleno). Thus, when a friend (I bet you can guess who), invited me to be her plus one AND meet Chef Yannick himself, it took me about two seconds to say yes.
While I have had my issues with Palm traffic previously, I was happy when our driver moved smoothly to the outer reaches of the Palm. Walking through the sophisticated lobby, STAY is located directly on the left once you enter the understated sophistication of the O&O. Passing a bit of bling (crystals literally dripping from the ceiling, yes?), we were effusively met by the staff and quickly seated.
Given the chandeliers and other fixtures, the easiest comparison is to the interior of across town upmarket venue, Reflets (now closed — devastation!), but with a different color palate and certainly more square footage. As only Dubai can do, this restaurant ensured diners had plenty of space and privacy, a detail I did not know was so lacking. At Stay, there is ample space for all parties and not a bad table to be found. I only write this as it compares to the just outside the kitchen/in the way of servers table we had when dining at across the Palm’s other fine dining venue, Social by Heinz Beck.
As with many of the celebrity chefs in the Emirates, Chef Yannick visits three or four times a year to supervise the kitchen and make any adjustments to the menu as needed. Fortunately, even in his kitchen whites, he was also very happy to sit down and chat with us for a few minutes as well as hand shave the truffles for my favorite dish of the evening. I also managed to out American even myself and give him a high five (a face palm moment to be sure, however he not only returned my gesture with enthusiasm, but also suggested my dining partner and I should come visit his venue in Paris).
For those who aren’t aware, Chef Yannick has not only been awarded a prestigious 3 Michelin stars (from 2007) but is a bit of a pioneer of in the world of flavor extraction (he’s literally written the book on it). While our first course involved extracted celeriac (delicious) we were also able to do a tasting of this product as a broth. It’s difficult to describe, but essentially, imagine trying something that tastes exactly as you imagine it to be. A small bite that exists solely as that vegetable. This is what the experience was like — sauce in its purest form.
While there are highly traditional French ala carte options (and a tasting menu that highlights the extraction technique), we decide instead to go with the suggestion that’s offered — an entire evening of whatever the kitchen is making (!). The starting amuse bouche set the tone and are light, airy, and full of flavor. Whereas other restaurants I’ve been to previously are in your face with color and presentation, the restraint here is perfect. This is accompanied with a lovely glass of champagne.
For our first course, a delightful stack of fresh vegetables finished with some of the extracted celeriac. It’s a light touch and easy start to the meal.
For the second course, heading straight up the list as one of my favorite plates for the entire year (!), was a bowl of perfectly cooked, conceived and delivered Anchellini, with fresh truffle shaved on top. The pasta was, well, difficult to describe. Imagine the tiniest ball of dough swirling around in your mouth, with a texture you’ve probably never felt before. My dining companion used the phrase ‘totally unique mouth feel’ and that’s the closest I can get.
In between courses was another small bite (it doesn’t even qualify as a half course) made charmingly of the creamiest potatoes served ala cappuccino. Just trust me, it works.
Our mains included Iodic John Dory with melted butter leek (a fish the Parisian restaurant is well known for) and, for my non-seafood eating friend, stewed beef Bourguignon style, with mashed potatoes.
Desserts are done either ala carte or at an open ‘Pastry Library’ — a style where you visit with the pastry chef and he creates a platter for you (by the half meter!). I loved the interactive quality of it, and let’s face it, at the end of this type of meal, it’s nice to get up and stretch your legs. As we were special guests for the evening, we were able to try a dessert not on the menu, the ‘Black Alaska’ — a sweet, but not too sweet take on Baked Alaska that was shockingly cold on the inside (a nice juxtaposition to the brief flame that the dish begins with). There’s also, of course, a plate of divine petit fours.
What sets this meal apart (to me) is the masterful degree of perfection and presentation, a rare find in Dubai. The entire experience at STAY is so professionally and seamlessly accomplished that it is literally on a different level with almost all the other establishments in the city.
This is one of the few 5-star reviews I’m giving. The evening was exceptional and I highly recommend it for a special occasion. If you can time your visit accordingly, having the opportunity to meet a delightful 3 star Michelin chef is a rare and wonderful experience that you should try. The tasting menu starts at AED450 for the food, and I believe this to be well in line with the meal that is delivered.
A to Za’atar was a guest of Stay. Opinions are my own, just ask my husband.