Dubai,  Published Work

Hidden Gems of Dubai | Creekside Cafe – More Than Just Food


Heritage by the Creek

Creekside Cafe is my current favourite haunt and as the name suggests, it is located by the Dubai creek. I have a lot of emotions attached to Dubai creek. I have walked every single night throughout the 9 months of my first pregnancy along this creek. We used to live in Bur Dubai in our earlier Dubai days and a walk to the creekside and the Bastakiya quarters felt almost the most natural and the obvious thing to do – like daily breathing. I would ‘people watch’ and build up stories around those whom I would see everyday – the harassed new mom, the funny husband, the young executive possibly with OCD, the chatter princess of a teenager … so on and so forth. Those were the times before the Z-Sisters had engulfed our lives, or the recent e-baby that keeps me busy now and whom I need to nurture 24×7. Those were the times when seagulls still circled around the  blue waters of the creek at almost all hours of the day. Those were the times when tender coconuts were priced at Dhs 1/piece and were served at room temperature, not chilled in the refrigerator. Those were the times when every guest who would come home would be given a Dubai tour that culminated in an Abra ride crossing the creek to show off Gold souk and Spice souk. Those were the times when Dubai was represented in different publications by its wind towers of Bastakiya and the aerial view of Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club.


Seeking out a Hidden Gem

Those were also the times when soulful places effortlessly existed in Dubai and were scattered all around the city in the disguise of humble cafeterias who would serve until the wee hours of the morning , or small authentic eatery in the locality that would still deliver to your home a Dhs 15-20 worth of meal order. Unlike today, when it takes days to seek out small places that are worthy of thousand shout outs, in a city full of sky-touching highrises and magnanimous shopping malls. And when I find such places, like the Creekside, they grace my Hidden Gems writeups for PW in Gulf News (above). My last visit to the Creekside was accompanied by my ever enthusiastic Mum in law (yes, the same lady who inspired me to write my diary of pickles) – all in the pretext of interviewing the chefs and the team (again!) and eating those red velvet leqaimats (yet again!). We aimed to reach Creekside sharp at 8 am, the moment they opened their doors. Parking our car near the entrance of the Textile Souk, we walked into a souq caught red handed in its lazy morning mood …  a few shops had started opening their doors, windows were getting ready to be dressed up for the day with wares, flowing textiles and aromatic spices… while the early rays from the sun filtered through the wooden beams of the traditional roof casting enigmatic shadows on the walls. The chill in the air was unexpected and the whizz of the sea breeze threatened to pierce through our ear drums. This had to be one of the best times to capture creek side (followed by sunset) – while it was still prepping up for the day – just like a blushing bride who looks beautiful still sans the makeup. Post- makeup, it would all be for the people gathered around and for the flash bulbs.



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Dubai Creek & the Creekside Cafe

Once you are hit by the blue of creek waters and the cacophony of the seagulls and the busy abras, you know that you journeyed all this while to seek out the Dubai that mirrors centuries of old trading traditions. One can still see the loading and unloading of trading goods from the traditional Dhows. The smells from the the various ports of origin for these Dhows, situated in distant countries like the South-East Asian countries, India, countries from Africa etc seems to pervade the air. Soon these dhows would shift their base to a new wharfage near Deira corniche. Till then, we still have a beautiful cafe by the Dubai creek to drown our sorrows in. The website describes Creekside as …’Dubai’s newest contemporary cultural space and cafe. Its focus lies primarily on architecture, art, culture, design and heritage. Located in the heart of old Dubai, Creekside is a place of artistic expression, debate and knowledge exchange. Whether someone is to attend a workshop, or simply indulge in a cup of aromatic coffee, Creekside will always leave its visitors with food for thought.‘ And it left this visitor (myself) with so much food for thought that I have been dragging everyone to this place at all odd hours… squeezing myself through the school pick ups and the school drop offs. While I have written elaborately about the cafe in the GN Property Weekly write up, what I haven’t written earlier is the tale of the red velvet leqaimats. Sharing that just after the photo journey…

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Food connects strangers, specially it they are red velvet leqaimats!

Food connects strangers and bonds friendships, strengthens relationships in more ways that we can ever think off. Our red velvet leqaimats looked so beautiful that the family (mother, father and a little boy) sitting by the next table soon became our friends. A few minutes later, the man was all out posing for my camera – of course with the leqaimats being the only props. It was only a few minutes earlier that I had sneaked into the cafe to take pictures of the signature French toast with an Emirati twist that they had ordered – we would have ordered this as well had it not been for the Omani crab cakes and the Eggs Benedict that were filling up our tummy space. An Arabic coffee custard french toast with Hickory smoked date jam, pistachio whipped cream, sour pomegranate syrup… ahh that’s going to be our order the next time we hit Creekside cafe – the stunning creekside view as a complimentary offer!


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Reaching Creekside Cafe

Creekside Cafe: Walking Route 1: Walk towards the textile souk with the Dubai museum on your left and the Grand Mosque on your right. Take the immediate right once you pass the Grand Mosque and as you approach the creek waters, you will find the Creekside on your left; Walking Route 2: If you are walking down Al Seef Road, remain on the water pathway with the Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood and the Rulers Court on your left. Once you have reached the end of that pathway you will find Creekside. Tel: 04 3599220. One note of caution: Parking can be a nightmare, and I would suggest that you park in the Parking lot near the Spice souq at the Deira side, and take an Abra ride directly to the Creekside Cafe!

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Explore Dubai Creek, while it still lasts!

On our way back, the entire Textile Souq seemed to have woken up from it’s slumber, and activities were on full swing. Walk into these brooding nooks and corners of old Dubai and sniff up the Dubai creek in all its mighty fervor, while it still lasts. Dubai changes its landscape every single day, so soak up a heritage that defines the city in it’s earlier stages of growth.  If you haven’t explored the creek yet, I urge you to do so – it is magical and will show you facets of the city that you have never expected that it might exist. Sally Prosser aka My Custard Pie captures the creek’s magic in her writings. So does Radhina Almeida Coutinho aka Platetrotter as she shares her experience of Frying Pan Adventures’ Food Lovers’ Morning March in Food e Mag dxb, the Food & Travel E-Magazine that I edit (below). Get inspired by these writings. As for myself, If I had to show off that one thing in Dubai to a guest, it wouldn’t be the Burj Khalifa or the Burj Al Arab. Neither would it be the seaside or the desert in the moonlight… it would definitely be the Dubai creek!

Unblogging it all… Ishita

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Disclaimer: Our bill at Creekside Cafe came to Dhs 170 for two persons (I had ordered the main meal of Omani crab cakes for breakfast!) and the red velvet leqaimats were offered as the Chef’s compliments. 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 these posts. And do join me on my daily food and travel journey on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.


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