It would be easy to generalize that a lot of Dubai’s trendy (insert cuisine here) establishments are interchangeble. On the surface, they have a lot of commonalities…imported party-place concept from (insert trendy capital city) – check, lounge-club-restaurant hybrid – check, touches of fusion cuisine – check, walls filled with ironic graffiti/street/pop art – check.
On the surface, La Cantine du Fauborg fits this category. Scratch the surface, however, and rather surprisingly you’ll find some of Dubai’s most exquisite food. It’s not just a case of throwing truffle at a menu and hoping that it sticks either, the food at La Cantine is well thought out and well executed, with excellent flavour profiles and spot-on seasoning.
You will probably have noticed by now that I simply cannot resist burrata and raw beef. Naturally, I indulged in both at La Cantine, and couldn’t have been a happier fine-diner. From the first dish, the menu impresses. The Burrata, cherry tomato, black grapes and pomegranate (75dhs) pleasingly stood out from the oft-disappointing burrata pack with its delicate floral notes, filing this burrata firmly in the ‘memorable’ category.
Not the be upstaged by it’s dairy by-products, the beef also impressed at La Cantine. The Tea-marinated beef carpaccio with green mango, avocado and soya dressing (85dhs) is an absolute show-stopper that had myself and my fellow diner (@PassMeTheDimSum) raving from the first bite (and fighting over the last). Our second raw beef dish, the Beef tartare, potato and truffle emulsion (110dhs) breaks out of the standard tartare mould with it’s potato and truffle cream topping replacing the traditional mayonnaise/egg and a covering of truffle replacing the usual sharp capers and onions. Definitely a contender for best tartare in the city.
Despite already being two beef dishes in, there was no way I was missing their signature Honey glazed Wagyu short ribs, pomelos, spring onion and coriander (195dhs) that while pricey, astounds with every bite. At once juicy and crispy due to it’s combination braising and deep frying preparation, these Asian-inspired sticky sweet short ribs are the very thing foodie dreams are made of.
If the lovely house bread hasn’t already sated your carb-cravings, the Les coquillettes de mon enfance (90dhs), a petite dish of macaroni cheese-gone-posh, and the delightful Risotto with leeks and fresh truffle, pecorino, poached egg (135dhs) will have you on cloud nine.
My main course of John Stone tenderloin 230g (260dhs) was tender, full of flavor and cooked perfectly to my requested medium rare. They nailed the accompanying sauces too, sometimes a pitfall in Dubai, and the Creamed corn (45dhs) side I ordered was everything I remember of creamed corn from my childhood but so much better, with a caramelized char on the corn giving serious depth to this side.
Reflecting on an absolutely divine meal (and enjoying listening to La Cantine’s marvelous playlist), we really didn’t have any stomach space left for dessert but soldiered on bravely for the review cause. From the moment I perused the dessert menu, however, I suspected we might be in trouble here. The dessert menu is overwhelmingly bland and basic, and suddenly I wondered where La Cantine’s je ne sais quoi had suddenly disappeared to. It was like Cinderella’s carriage had turned back into a pumpkin when the clock struck midnight (which was about the time we finally reached dessert, due to our slow photographing habits). I was truly perplexed at how a restaurant serving up such fantastic, passionate food had designed a dessert menu that I would expect from a token beach-resort-all-day-dining restaurant.
Despite being seriously underwhelmed by the choices, we decided on the Profiteroles (60dhs), which sadly missed the mark by such a degree that one bite was more than enough. The sole intriguing dessert, Pumpkin seeds nougatine, almond cake and caramalized banana (60dhs), whilst pretty, sadly just did not work in so many ways. A ginormous Eton Mess (105dhs) also arrived, served in a giant martini glass which is so wedding-centerpiece-circa-mid-naughties, and consisted overwhelmingly of cream. If you still think giant martini glasses are cool and have a bad habit of eating whipped cream out of the can, well, I guess I’ve found the perfect dessert for you. Otherwise, give the desserts a wide berth and invest those dirhams in their spectacular savoury selection – these are truly memorable dishes. If desserts reached the lofty heights of the savoury courses, La Cantine would be seriously hard to beat.
There’s still hope, however, for that perfect end to the meal – La Cantine makes a mean coffee and salted caramel cocktail (again, with cream) that serves as the sweet and satisfying coda I was searching for (they make a pretty good espresso martini too.)
Speaking of beverages, their knowledgable sommelier will be able to help you find exactly what your looking for, pinpointing the perfect Chardonnay for me (Stag’s Leap Karia Chardonnay Napa Valley 2014, 875dhs). I highly recommend this wine if you’re looking for something special, every mouthful was as spectacular as the last. A truly gorgeous Chardonnay.
I’m happy to say I’ve finally found some new additions to my ‘dishes in Dubai I can’t wait to eat again’ list (trust me, it’s much shorter than it should be in this city), and I can wholeheartedly express that La Cantine du Fauborg needs to go to the top of your to-eat list in Dubai.
Where is your favourite French dining establishment in Dubai?