Within the shiny new Galleria Mall on Al Wasl Road you’ll find South African café chain Tasha’s.
Aside from the pleasant outdoor terrace flanked by potted trees, inside you’ll find a small area that has the airy and glamorous vibe of vintage, colonial era ‘Grand Cafés’, thanks to the mixture of marble-look floor tiles and the prevalence of pillars – and more palm trees around the room.
Service is well-meaning and reasonably efficient (even if the starter did seem to take a long time to arrive), and staff are knowledgeable about the menu. Beyond that, some servers are friendly, others are rather cold, aiming to get the task done quickly rather than with warmth.
If you visit in the evening, you’ll find two menus to choose from: a fairly classic café list of salads and sandwiches, and a more elaborate selection of bistro-esque plates. Plus, you may also be offered a very small list of more complex-sounding (and more expensive) restaurant dishes.
From the café selection, the starter of salmon tartare was a pretty little colour wheel with a mound of pink fish in the centre, a little patch of bright green avocado scattered with purple cress and micro portions of diced red onion, lime segments, red chilli, fresh coriander leaves and tomato. This wheel worked in a more traditional ‘mix it yourself’ beef tartare style. The tartare itself was creamy and fresh, not distinctly seasoned, but once mixed with what we did and didn’t want in the balance, it became a clean, fresh and healthy-tasting dish. The steak fillet main course, however, was evidently not the dish to order here. When the waiter leadingly asked which of the sauces we wanted, he failed to mention that they would be charged at Dhs16 each. On this plate, the chips tasted floury and bland, the cherry tomatoes used in the minute flourish of salad on the plate tasted past their best and the steak (although dressed in a sticky little jus of caramelised meat juices) was inconsistently cooked, with only pockets of it living up to the request of medium rare.
But then there was the cake. The carrot cake was recommended above choices that included blueberry or hazelnut cheesecake, German pecan cake and chocolate cake. At Dhs40 a slice, it seemed expensive, and since few could finish these giant slices, we’d love to see Tasha’s reduce both the price and the portion size. However, it was one of the best carrot cakes we’ve tasted. The cream cheese topping was silky in consistency and the sponge was moist and filled with Christmassy spice and plenty of plump chunks of pecan. And the additional topping of sticky fig jam pushed it over the edge to excellence.
The experience at Tasha’s is pleasant but patchy. Give it a try, don’t expect anything too refined, order well (or better than we did), and definitely finish with cake. To share.
The bill (for one) 1x salmon tartare Dhs94 1x steak fillet Dhs155 (plus Dhs16 for sauce) 1x carrot cake Dhs40 1x lemon mint Dhs28 1x tea Dhs22 Total (excluding service) Dhs355