There probably isn’t a restaurant that has been on my ‘need to review’ list longer than Mint Leaf of London. Having enjoyed our last trip to the Emirates Financial Tower, Hubs and I were happy to return to visit Chef Pradeep (who was the genius behind a memorable lunch at Jodphur), who has recently taken over the helm at Mint Leaf of London. Having seen a number of ‘grammable options in my feed, I wondered if the food would match the photos. Dodging a bit of Friday night construction in the lobby of Emirates Financial Towers, we made our way to the 16th floor and once inside, to our right into the dining room of the restaurant. Whereas the upstairs neighbors are in desperate need of an overhaul, Mint Leaf has a modern design, complete with an open kitchen. There is a good ratio of servers to diners, such that no one is left waiting and the wait staff clearly understand how to pace a meal. Seated near one of the floor to ceiling windows (hello, Burj Khalifa!) we are presented with menus, both for food and cocktails. With suggestions from the staff, we try some unique concoctions, and should you want to make the kids at home jealous, try the Garden Glow. The cocktails add a fun flair to the evening, but also follow through on the taste. Of course, you can order wine and other spirits, but I would encourage you to give one of the signature cocktails a chance and to have your camera ready.
Looking through the menu, there is plenty to choose from, but we decide to take a cue from Chef Pradeep, who personally promises to provide a memorable meal. To start, we have the familiar Pani Puri — with (of course) a twist — in the form of wasabi. It’s the sort of amuse bouche that immediately awakes your palate (and then some). This small starter was quickly followed by Nimbu Tuna Tartare. Sweet and spicy, with a nice amount of bitterness from the crispy okra, I was happy with the theme that was clearly developing in the dishes. Our next courses included Grilled lamb chops, with portions that made sense for a tasting menu (and just a touch of sweetness from brown sugar for an excellent depth of flavor), and the somewhat messy, but still tasty Desi Tacos with Pulled Hicken Tak-a-Tak (why no one has thought to use roti in this manner before, I don’t know). The only starter that didn’t entirely work for me was the Duck Seekh Kebab. While the playful presentation was in line with the rest of the dishes, I’m not sure the protein is in its best form as a kebab. Additionally, with plenty of things to try already, it might be the one to edit out. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
For our mains, the Scotch Eggs Curry, Katafi Nest is a fun homage to the long-standing debate of where curry originated, and, even though it wasn’t my favorite, I do think Scotch Egg should show up more often in main courses. While certainly a standard for Dubai menus, I felt the Seared Black Cod was a bit overkill here and the weakest dish of the night. In a city that is literally SPOILED for good options, having this protein on the menu means, ‘go big or go home’ and I think the team should play to their other strengths. It wasn’t that the cod was bad, it’s just there are exceptional versions of it in Dubai. Fortunately, the deceptively simple Dal Makhani with the BEST NAAN IN THE CITY (i.e., that of the Gunpowder variety) more than made up for any disappointments with the fish. The Naan and Dal are made even better by the accompanying Black Quinoa and Pomegranate Raita. Should you come to the venue, if you only have a chance to order one main course, do make it this combination — you won’t be disappointed. Honestly, spoiler alert — the Gunpowder Naan is going to make an appearance at the end of the month, when I round up my favorites for January. As a sidebar, I love that Chef took some standard dishes and did something unique with them.
For desserts, the options are not afterthoughts, but instead well constructed and creative dishes. We are equally impressed by the Lotus Mess and the PB&C Nougat Bar. There are also specialty cocktails which we shouldn’t have had, but decided to enjoy anyway. The sweet dishes are not ones where you dip your spoon and then politely move on. No, these are the type of desserts where you find room and finish the plate. Both can be easily shared (although hands off the Lotus, because I would encourage you to order your own to enjoy).
My suggestions are limited. Overall, I thought the music was a mismatch for the venue, to the point that it was distracting. With such outstanding food, it seems an easy fix to transition to something a bit more appropriate for the restaurant (or, at a minimum, different music for the lounge versus the dining room). Additionally, while the temperature in a restaurant usually doesn’t bother me, we were absolutely freezing in jeans and long sleeve shirts, so hopefully, it’s a bit warmer on our return. I also wish the venue would enact a ‘no kids under the age of 10 after 8PM’ policy, but I think that is very wishful thinking on my part (apparently, 10PM on a Friday is a popular time for the 5-7 y.o. demographic — who knew?).
Would I go back? Most definitely! The AED325 Chef’s Menu (including a vegetarian option) offers one of the most outstanding value for money meals in the city. I’ve also heard great things about the Business Lunch.
Who is this best for? Well, considering the range of ages and overall demographics were present, I think Mint Leaf of London is an excellent choice for just about everyone! There are private dining options available if you’re celebrating something bigger, and the lounge is open if you want to pop by for some of the creative drinks.
Have you been to Mint Leaf of London? Is there anywhere else in the city that offers Gunpowder Naan?
A to Za’atar was a guest of Mint Leaf of London. Opinions are my own, just ask my husband.