Forget your favourites and explore a new side to cafe culture
We’ve noticed quite a spree of cafés opening across the city recently. Could it be that the clement winter weather has convinced restaurateurs that more Dubaians will now leave the house for a light meal in the sunshine? The opening of the Al Wasl Square development in Jumeirah has led to a particular concentration of new cafés in the area, many with a literary theme: Book Munch, The Archive and Hugo Café have all popped up on our radar. We’ve also looked further afield to The Dubai Mall, Mirdif and more, to find new places for the thirsty to find their next espresso hit.
Black Iris Café Adding to the revitalised vibe around Uptown Mirdif is Black Iris, which opened in December last year. The Jordanian owner named it after his country’s national flower and, although the menu and decor are not Middle Eastern-inspired, the local flavour can certainly be felt in the outdoor atmosphere: khandura-clad customers come together to while away an evening over a coffee or a karak chai. We like the menu, which offers international café classics such as pasta, sandwiches, salads and burgers, nicely prepared and very affordable too. Uptown Mirdif, next to Starbucks (04 255 9749).
Book Munch A newcomer to the recently developed hotspot of Al Wasl Square, Book Munch is a family-friendly café and bookshop with a strong selection of children’s books, both in English and Arabic. The menu includes dishes such as pear, gorgonzola and baby spinach salad, oeufs en concotte and granola parfait for breakfast (you can also buy Book Munch’s self-made granola bars to take away). Al Wasl Square, Al Wasl Road, Jumeirah (04 388 4006).
Caffè Vergnano Backed by one of Italy’s oldest family-owned coffee roasteries, it’s no surprise that this café’s USP is its huge selection of caffeinated drinks. Offering both cold and hot coffee specials, the menu is like a mocktail list for coffee fans. Try the estivo, an elegant yet fun mocktail-style cappuccino drink made with hot espresso and cold milk foam. The Dubai Mall (04 388 2088).
Caffè Via This venue was unveiled at the new Ocean View Hotel in JBR in late December. The name translates from Italian as ‘street café’, so the venue is suitably Italian-themed: its signature savoury offering is pizza sold by the slice. Its primary USP, however, is that it’s open 24 hours. Ocean View Hotel, JBR (04 814 5599).
Hugo Café Inspired by French novelist Victor Hugo (the writer behind Les Misérables and The Hunchback of Notre-Dame), this new Jumeirah café is setting itself up as a haunt for the city’s literati: Dubai’s first literary salon, if you will. On offer are seminal texts and audio-visual materials to browse, as well as a proposed programme of events to support the local arts scene, such as book launches and exhibitions. Palm Strip Mall, Jumeirah Beach Road (04 386 3100).
Le Gourmet Café This vast new café space adds to the already burgeoning scene on Beach Road. It’s relaxed, bright and breezy, serving elevated café plates as well as pizzas. Head here on Friday mornings, when the venue hosts Ripe’s second farmers’ market in the city. Jumeirah Beach Road, next to Lime Tree Café (04 344 4220).
Madeleine Café & Boulangerie This café offers a rustic, casual French bistro vibe, and an equally Gallic menu. The traditional selection includes foie gras terrine with fig jam, salad Niçoise, tartiflette and cassoulet. In honour of the cafe’s name, it also offers madeleine cakes in orange, chocolate, and pistachio flavours. The café boasts an outdoor terrace with views of The Dubai Fountain. The Dubai Mall (04 438 4335).
Oushe Gourmet Bakeshop This new Middle Eastern bakery offers freshly baked goods that span Western and local flavours, including sandwiches, cakes and manakish. Every day from 3pm until 4pm is ‘yummy hour’, which means 15 percent off everything. Barsha, opposite Citymax Hotel, near Mall of the Emirates (04 385 0011).
Pantry Café The vibrant, modern version of a farm kitchen is a pleasant, inviting spot. Combining a café and delicatessen concept, it prides itself on using premium ingredients with an emphasis on organic produce, and there’s an open kitchen where you can see items such as pizzas being created. Al Wasl Square, Al Wasl Road, Jumeirah (04 388 3868).
Rose Leaf Café Another Kiwi-run café on the Dubai scene, this venue stands out for its wonderful conservatory-like setting amid the greenery of Dubai Garden Centre. Treats such as brownies, cakes and pastries are all baked fresh every day. Dubai Garden Centre, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 340 0006).
Skinny Genie It’s not exactly a café: instead, Skinny Genie’s bakery concept produces a range of gluten-free goodies including muffins, cakes, madeleines and cookies. The company doesn’t have its own standalone café, but the products are available to order for home delivery, and you can also find them in cafes such as The Archive in Safa Park, Raw Coffee in Al Quoz and Caribou Coffee branches across the city, with products also coming soon to Caffè Nero. www.skinny-genie.com (800 754 669).
The Archive Part library, part café and part workspace, The Archive is dedicated to the art and literature of the Middle East and North Africa. Peruse books covering art, architecture, history and children’s stories, hook up your laptop for a spot of work and free Wi-Fi, or simply enjoy the green surroundings of Safa Park. The café also runs regular workshops including yoga, Pilates, drawing (for children and adults) and book binding. Safa Park, Gate 5, Jumeirah (04 349 4033).
The Sunken Garden This new outdoor spot at The Ritz-Carlton DIFC, set amid palm trees and fountains, offers a distinctly Arabian atmosphere. The USP is a varied selection of shisha flavours, including mango, raspberry and chocolate mint, while the menu offers French-inspired small plates such as gratinated mussels, foie gras terrine and charcuterie platters. The Ritz-Carlton DIFC (04 372 2323).
Coming soon from Colombia Opening soon in Dubai, Colombiano Coffee House may well be Colombia’s answer to the big global coffee brands. The casual café plans to offer a simple, international menu of sandwiches, salads and pastries, plus hot drinks made with Colombian coffee beans (we like the sound of the ominously titled ‘insomnio’ coffee. The brand already has several outlets in Abu Dhabi and is scheduled to open this month in Dubai Media City, in Shatha Tower, next to Media One Hotel. www.colombianocoffeehouse.com.
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Marina Mar 09, 2013 09:11 am
one of the best caffe shop in town
rabiya Mar 07, 2013 08:13 am
Great fresh food! My company orders from them for our monthly breakasts. Note: the salmon sandwhiches are so good, this morning my colleague ate EIGHT (small) ones as he just couldnt stop!! The brownies are my personal favorite though :)