There is a new restaurant on the Dubai culinary scene and my gosh, is it making waves.
La Résidence, located in Wafi Raffles Hotel is a Parisian inspired brasserie which successfully brings a touch of French elegance alongside outstanding haute cuisine to the Emirates.
The brainchild of Michelin starred chef Frédéric Vardon, master chef behind the French capital’s gastronomic destinations Zinc and 39V, La Résidence has been one of the most anticipated new openings in a rather saturated market in the UAE. But what the restaurant & lounge offers is something quite unlike anything Dubai has seen before.
Stepping into La Résidence with its glamorous entrance, a stones throw away from the ostentatious Raffles Hotel, is like stepping into Europe, it’s as if you’ve been transported from one side of the world to another. The interior of this large restaurant is both classic and contemporary, playing homage to its Parisian roots, there is no doubt to the style of restaurant that this is inspired by. That being said, the moody flickering candlelight, elevated grand piano and dazzling crystal chandeliers all nod to the market in which this Parisian eatery is catering for, Dubai expects at least a bit of glitz and glam and La Résidence made sure it provided some.
One one side of the venue you have the lounge area and the other side the restaurant with the all important space between tables, La Résidence is an ideal place for an intimate dinner whether with a loved one or for a private business lunch. Soulful funky jazz kept the atmosphere alive which increased ever so slightly in volume as the evening progressed, the atmosphere was just as electric as if we had been dining in a real Parisian brasserie right along the banks of the Seine.
Now, with Frédéric Vardon’s name attached to the restaurant, expectations were high. His restaurants in Paris have not only earned him a Michelin Star but also have had the foodies of the city running in their droves to his restaurants for years now for the fantastic fare. Could La Résidence compete? Of course it could.
The cuisine here is elegant, attractive and authentic, clearly inspired by France’s culinary traditions, Vardon has created every single dish on the menu with passion and this is evident not only through the perfect presentation but most importantly, through the taste.
It is quite a bold statement to say the food at La Résidence was amongst the very best in the region but I stand true to my words, each course was a pure delight to eat, accompanied by the perfect sommelier chosen wine.
The menu of course is contemporary French with everything from fresh seafood to succulent chunks of meat presented to the diner.
To start we opted for the Landes Duck Foie Gras accompanied by toasted country-style bread which was just fabulous and the Green Asapargus With Warm Leeks which was also a great choice for vegetarians. The Foie Gras came in two circular discs garnished with exotic fruit, it was delicious and could only have been made better by extra toast to spread it onto. The Asparagus was a charming dish perfect for those that are keen on their greens, lightly dressed and beautifully presented. Other stand out dishes to start include the Chilled Velvety Green Pea Soup complete with fresh goat’s curd and olive oil and the obligatory Burgandy Snails which I watched my neighbouring diner eat with sheer delight, they actually did look very appetizing.
There is a wide range of main courses offered here as you’d expect from a brasserie style restaurant, catering for all tastes. The Maine Lobster Thermidor is perhaps the signature dish on the menu but pushing AED 400 you will need deep pockets. The Fillet of Veal with ‘Comte’ macaroni cheese and vegetable stew was divine. Three juicy veal pieces sat alongside macaroni cheese and perfectly presented vegetables, the dish looked almost as good as it tasted. If you are a lover of veal, I highly recommend this dish. In fact it is without a doubt the best veal dish I have tasted in the whole of the Middle East.
For steak lovers there are plenty of options from 250g rib-eye to a 200g tenderloin, both come accompanied by french fries and babygem salad with a choice of either Bernaise or peppercorn sauce.
If you’re partial to sharing the Seafood Platter is a great option and can be designed for either 2 or 4 people and consists of oysters, clams, pink and grey shrimps, whelks, winkles, razor clams, king crab and 1/2 a lobster. The oysters are fantastic here, a feat not many restaurants in this region manage to achieve.
Of course being a French restaurant the deserts are too good not to try. From the Vacherin, a tangy raspberry and lime meringue that I managed to devour in record time to the popular crepe suzette that seemed to be the choice for most diners in the restaurant thanks to it’s perfectly proportioned rich caramel glazed sugary treat with lashings of orange zest. Top these fabulous dishes off with a bottle of 2007 New Zealand wine and you have yourself the perfect three coursed meal.
La Résidence is everything that I hoped it would be; it’s sophisticated, fun and worth making the trip for. It possesses a unique style that manages to translate well to the diners it is hoping to attract and the food is nothing short of fantastic. Frédéric Vardon, you’ve done it again.
Being only a month old, this is a restaurant to watch.