Having been impressed by the interior at Molecule (but not too much else, unfortunately), I was ready to give one of the other d3 restaurants a try. While I still had bad luck locating the venue (oh well, a few extra steps for the day never hurt anyone), eventually I was able to find The Lighthouse (and now know where I’ll park next time). The interior is reminiscent of one of my favorite restaurants in the city (Intersect by Lexus) and has the same retail space/restaurant features as Comptoir 102.
From the website:
The Lighthouse boasts a handpicked selection of gifting merchandise including glassware, serveware, travel and lifestyle accessories as well as books and papeterie by international and regional designers. The name was inspired by the Virginia Woolf classic ‘To the Lighthouse’ and is a subtle nod to the ancient world wonder, the Lighthouse of Alexandria.
After walking past the long pastry/coffee bar (complete with a beautiful installation of pristine white subway tile), I was greeted by one of the (many) friendly wait staff and shown to my table (set among the store area). When asked if I wanted to select my own menu, or simply go with whatever the kitchen wanted to send my way, I was happy to opt for the latter. I had a quick peek at the drinks menu (yes, the venue is licensed) and decided that the house beverage The Lighthouse (60AED) would be the perfect cocktail for a hot day (I was right).
Before the dishes arrived, freshly baked brown bread and some of best hummus I’ve had in the city was presented (I’m still trying to figure out what made it extra delicious — extra paprika?). Next up was the Tuna Tartare (a steal at AED45) and (of course) Burrata (reasonable at AED75). While both starters are staples from other cafe menus, I sincerely enjoyed the original approach to both dishes. The tuna came with a healthy mix and was filling enough to be considered as an open faced sandwich for lunch, should one be so inclined. While my love of Burrata is well known, the addition of tomatoes, grapes, rocket, and pomegranate (complete with a pomegranate balsamic reduction) was especially welcome, and I would happily order each plate again. For my main, I was presented with one of the signature dishes, Truffle Rigatoni (AED145, which feels a touch overpriced, even with the luxury ingredients). While I do not tend to seek out pasta, in this case, I’m delighted to have tried it. The cream sauce was not too heavy or overwhelming (i.e. the pasta was not drowning in it) and the generous portion of mushrooms was too good to pass up. With the final touch of crispy onions, it was nearly a perfect plate.
Although there was not much room to allow it, with a smile that I wouldn’t be disappointed, was the Apple and Olive Oil Cake (another deal at AED55), served with ice cream and fresh fruit (which I had no chance of finishing on my own). Plated with olive oil at the table, this small and still-warm-from-the-oven cake is definitely dense enough for two people.
Honestly, I was thoroughly impressed with the outlet. I think one of the things that stuck out to me as being different than the average Dubai cafe were the people. From the service staff, it was clear that people were enjoying their jobs (and had pride in the food). This was not a cookie cutter ‘ma’am/sir’ experience, this was a place where everyone was highly engaged (as you would expect at most similarly styled venues in the rest of the world). In fact, on my way out I was introduced to the owner of the establishment, who was busy working on his laptop at the coffee counter. Another senior manager also happened to be on hand. Like Chef Malouf popping out to say hello at Zahira earlier in the week, I took it as a good sign that there was involvement (even at 1 PM on a Thursday).
Would I go back?
(Did I not mention that you can drink there?!). Yes, I would love to check out the breakfast here, or use the location for a business lunch meet up.
Have you been to The Lighthouse? What’s your favorite dish?
A to Za’atar was a guest of The Lighthouse. Opinions are my own, just ask my husband.