Food shot first (above), then the venue (below). This is my outrage against the ‘Fancy French Chefs Want to Ban Food Porn Photos From Their Restaurants’. How else can I share the ‘experiential dining’ that this beautiful glass boat gliding (not sailing) the waters of the Dubai Creek? Much to the annoyment of my fellow diners, I do unashamedly boast myself as the ‘foodstagrammer’ and I do click pictures of the food till it gets cold. In my defense, I will say, I don’t ever use flash in a restaurant, lest it disturbs other diners and even a child knows how difficult it is to make the food look delectable in a restaurant where there is an ambiance – which loosely translates into dim lighting. So if my food shots are good enough to bring a few of my readers into a restaurant (and I believe that diners did come by the dozens to this restaurant that I had recently written about), I have all the right to be outraged. But first, the food has to be really really good.The Creek Experience: Dubai Creek is one of my favourite spots in the city. I have done innumerable dhow trips, sunset cruises, have walked along the Creek for the entire 9 months of my two pregnancies. I have crossed the Creek many times by Abra, cut surprise birthday cakes in one of those small boats that offer to give tourists a 30 minutes cruise along the creek for barely 25 Dhs. I have eaten in most of the small restaurants and cafes that dot along the Bur Dubai side of the Creek. And I have always seen this beautiful glass boat anchored along the Creek – the Bateaux Dubai, waiting for its fancy diners to arrive. I have felt that this was Cinderella’s glass slippers – and my feet didn’t fit into them. And as much as I would have loved to have stepped into the beautiful glass boat, I have always had this feeling that the food served would probably be an upgraded version of the dinner buffets that are served in most dhow cruises. Never had I imagined that this was going to be another fine dining restaurant with a real kitchen. No, not any pre-cooked buffet food here, prepared in one of the restaurants of the parent company (JA Hotel & Resorts) and then brought and warmed up here. Not only is the food great, the experience is beautiful. Nothing beats the spectacular view of a lit up Dubai Creek at night. A special snooty feeling here, once you park yourself after dinner on the huge Moét & Chandon signature floor cushions (below left) on the upper deck – it feels like leading Coco Chanel’s life!
The Food: Now that I am done with the glass shots (literally, the wine glasses, the glass facade and everything glassy!), let’s talk about the food. At the helm of the kitchen is the very talented Chef Alan van Heerden (above). With a team of nine Chefs on board Bateaux Dubai, he creates a 4-course menu, taking in inspiration from their varied mix of different backgrounds and cultures. Every dish ordered from the menu, is freshly made in the specially designed kitchen, with finest of ingredients (locally sourced? Yes. Sustainability taken into account? Yes. Organically produced? Not everything). After nibbling into house breads and soup, for Starters we chose Pan Seared Scallop & Prawn (served delicately with a purée of cauliflower, tomatoes and a green apple celeriac salad and interestingly a Parmesan tuille with squid ink), Smoked Duck with Wild Mushroom Salad and a Sesame Crusted Yellow Fin Tuna Carpaccio and Tuna Tarter. The Smoked Duck was the winner for me – served with Balsamic ice cream and a crispy Basil Pesto Melba. For the Main Course, I loved my Seared Salmon with Braised Pok Choi (Salmon is such a favourite at home that I’ve managed to make a Bengali Mustard fish out of it too!). The other dishes that we had ordered was Beef fillet with Thyme infused Potato Fondant and Lamb Loin and Braised Lamb shoulder served with roasted red pepper couscous, baby spinach and a delicious tart made with Zucchini and Goats Cheese-Red Onion. Do you fancy chillies for dessert? We did, for we ordered a Mango, Coriander Chilli Cheese Cake with Mango Salad and Candy Ginger Tuille and that reminded me of another superb experience of a chillied dessert I have had before. The minute detailing that go into making this kind of ‘intricately created fine-dining’ menus, always leave me fascinated – Broccoli purée and then again wild Broccoli, Goat Cheese Ravioli and Smokey Rosemary Jus – wow! It’s like embroidery – millions of colour threads and minute beads are all interwoven together to create a beautiful pattern!
The odyssey of #foodporn below… (Excuse me, French Chefs – do you really think that I am breaching your intellectual property rights by showcasing your artwork to the word? Nay, tell that when someone walks into your restaurant demanding to eat a dish that they had seen a picture of, on my Instagram!) The experience of the Creek apart (pictures below), Bateaux Dubai was a great dining experience. It was Big Z’s birthday and the day felt anyway special (also thanks for the complimentary fruits instead of the cake as she was trying to be healthy). Emotions apart – the vessel is so heavy that one doesn’t feel any movement, unlike in many of my previous experiences of dhow Cruises, where I have tumbled with my plate filled with food. The experiential dining (actually nominated in this category in the recently concluded BBC GoodFood Awards 2013) does come at a price (395 Dhs/person for a four-course gourmet dinner, a welcome drink and a selection of canapés, and at a higher price if you opt for house beverage inclusive package). This is definitely a special-treat dining venue – good food and excellent service (also there is a gorgeous lady swayingly playing the violin – not Vanessa Mae exactly, but still, creates some vibe!). My post on Bateaux Dubai has been pending for long as I had pitched a write up on the different types of experiential dining that one can have along the Dubai Creek, which unfortuinately didn’t materialise. It’s my blog’s gain after all. The next post comes up with a cheat idea – not in Bateaux Dubai but on the Dubai creek experience with great food and one-tenth the bill. In reverse order now, from fine dining to street food – the blog pens down ‘experiences’ after all!
Unblogging it all… Ishita
Disclaimer: Exclusive Dubai Food 2014 Festival menu is available in Bateaux Dubai from 21st February until 15th March 2014. Please note that this post is not a sponsored post and the subject, story, opinions and views stated here are my own and are independent. While you enjoy reading the posts with lot of visuals, please do not use any material from this post. You can see more pictures of my travel and food journey here.