Finest French food, including Dubai’s best restaurant of all
Time Out Dubai staff
Winner – Best French Time Out Dubai Restaurant Awards 2012
La Petite Maison: La Petite Maison is the beating heart of DIFC’s restaurant scene, which, considering its esteemed neighbours, is quite some feat. Everything about it is gilt-edged with effortless sophistication, from the wonderfully knowledgeable staff and sommelier to the immaculate interior design, the buzzing atmosphere and the wonderful Niçoise food. It fits every occasion (providing you can afford it) whether it’s a catch-up with friends, a working lunch or a romantic interlude. There have been and, dare we say, always will be, complaints about the staff, but the pervading Gallic attitude to gastronomy only adds to the experience. After all, would getting a table be so difficult if La Petite Maison didn’t deliver on a daily basis? We think not. Click here for location and opening times for La Petite Maison.
Highly Recommended – Best French Time Out Dubai Restaurant Awards 2012
STAY by Yannick Alleno: STAY is as beautiful as it is original. After marvelling at the intricate design of the restaurant’s interior (which has benefitted this past year thanks to the addition of some rather nice wave-like partitions), it’s only natural that guests’ attention is drawn to the splendid dessert library on the left as they enter – an innovative idea that brings the oft-forgotten course of dessert into the forefront of the diners consciousness. However, the delicacies prepared here must wait until guests have consumed rich simple, yet sublimely prepared French staples, from foie gras to slow-cooked lamb to duck. Save room, however, for the dessert which is served by the metre and are as varied as macaroons, raspberry sorbet and a local twist on Paris brest. Unforgettable.
Highly Recommended – Best French Time Out Dubai Restaurant Awards 2012
Traiteur: This French stalwart in the beautiful Park Hyatt hotel by Dubai Creek boasts an eye-catching venue, with high ceilings and plenty of natural light pouring through the large windows looking out to the water. Traditional and tasty French classics are lovingly prepared in the open kitchen (which guests can peruse during the renowned Friday brunch) and ferried to tables by polite, attentive staff. The snails, dripping in rich, warm garlic butter are the best you’re likely to have in Dubai, while dishes such as foie gras creme brulee, squash risotto, shaved truffles and cheese, and beef fillet with apple and sarawak pepper are highly recommended. Traiteur’s winning formula has, happily, remained the same for years, and we can only hope it remains untouched for many more.
Bistro Madeleine: It’s all too easy to label Bistro Madeline as ‘Reflets for the budget diner’, but look beyond its geographical proximity to the award-winning Gagnaire restaurant (they share the same hotel) and concentrate on its individual merits and you’ll find a worthy option for a mid-week meal. Granted, the lobby location sucks some of the atmosphere from the place, but the food isn’t half bad (expect duck confit with mixed greens and a side of pan-fried potatoes and juicy sea bass with salty olive tapinade), the service is swift and friendly, and there are plenty of ongoing promotions to draw you in on a week night.
Le Classique: Le Classique has been dishing out French fare to Dubai expats for longer than most can remember. In this respect, the restaurant has a great deal of history behind it and warrants praise for standing the test of time in this transient, ever-changing city. Its enduring reputation is largely down to Executive Chef Francois Porte, who received Time Out’s inaugural Outstanding Contribution Award in 2011. However, it’s hard not to feel that this old-world charm has become a little frayed. The venue itself perhaps needs a slight renovation, while the menu lacks the vigour of some of Dubai’s newer restaurant offerings. However, there’s a lot on offer for the more mature, traditional diner.
Le Relais d’entrecote: This quaint little brasserie-style restaurant on Festival City’s Marina Promenade, has been doing quiet, consistent business for the past year, serving up just one dish: steak and chips. Though this combo doesn’t sound particularly ‘French’, L'Entrecote is the product of the Gineste de Saurs family, who have made a name for themselves serving premium steak bathed in a ‘secret’ sauce alongside plenty of crisp French fries for years. This proves a perfect meal to gobble up on the restaurant’s terrace, or in its quaint interior (where guests are at liberty to sup French grape). Granted, there’s not much in terms of choice, but anyone who’s looking for an alternative taste of Paris could do far worse than dropping by. Click here for location and opening times for Le Relais d’entrecote.
Reflets par Pierre Gagnaire:From the moment you enter the space (via its dedicated lift, no less), to the moment you depart, it’s impossible to forget that you are in a fine dining establishment. Fortunately, this is due to the attentiveness of the staff and the quality of the food, rather than any sense of stiffness. Charismatic Gagnaire is renowned for his creativity: a leader in the fusion cuisine movement, you can never second-guess what you’ll find on the menu from season to season. The amuse bouche, therefore – whatever it may be on your particular visit – will kick-start your palette with panache. Your tongue and tastebuds will then be tickled, tricked and teased with unexpected ingredient-matches for as long as you can handle: while portions are not large, they are intense and extremely rich, and the uninitiated may well find themselves physically satiated before their appetites are willing to give up. Meanwhile, the ‘reflets’ theme reverberates through the restaurant – the toilet walls, floors and ceiling, for instance, are entirely mirrored, creating a part-mesmorising, part-uncomfortable mise-en-abyme effect – and the general décor is flush with deep purples and silvers. Our only quibble? The tipping system – which now has to be entered separately onto the card machine before you pay the full bill – tends to cause an awkward conversation at the end of the meal. But otherwise, Reflets is the one restaurant that anyone with even a passing interest in contemporary cuisine should visit during their time in Dubai. Truly luxurious.
Rostang, The French Brasserie: It’s difficult to get over the feeling that the Atlantis and the restaurants within are becoming a little bit jaded as the years have passed. But this isn’t to say that venues such as Rostang shouldn’t be ruled out altogether. The venue is a competent recreation of a (sizeable) French Brasserie where staff even make an effort to greet you with a ‘Bonsoir’ as you walk through the door. The food proves to be a reasonable replication of classic French bistro dishes too – from steaks to moules frites. Certainly nothing shines, but Rostang is worth a visit for its weekly promotions, which feature all you can eat and drink for a price that’s right.