Located on Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard, Omnia by Silvena is chef Silvena Rowe’s flagship venue. It is also the chef’s first formal dining venture in the region: an Emirati brasserie, showcasing the chef’s signature touches of modern cooking, inspired by the region, as well as raw and gluten-free recipes.
The space itself is a bold and shiny statement of a restaurant. Decorated in cohesively used leitmotifs of mirrors, gold, white and diamond shapes, with the odd sassy splash of pink, the restaurant is full of dramatic detailing, such as a diamond-shaped VIP dining area raised above the rest of the room, and a full wall of calligraphy-graffiti.
Staff here seem to be uniformly friendly, from the welcoming doorman through to the pleasant servers. Waiting staff seem to know the menu, and are efficient, yet there is a sense that they are perhaps not yet very practised and confident in communicating it. However, they are able to offer some guidance and recommendations.
Since this venue is unlicensed, a notable emphasis has been placed on creating some interesting mocktails and juices. Several of these have been devised with healthy ingredients, while others use local flavours to interesting effect. While the mocktails are certainly among the more expensive in the city, they are very well put together.
The dining menu includes a section listed as ‘Emirati allure’ (the chef’s modern Arabic creations), plus dishes clearly flagged as signature dishes, raw, gluten-free, and so on. Across the menu, there is an emphasis on locally sourced items such as Gulf prawns and UAE-produced ricotta cheese. However, among those local items, and considering chef Rowe’s reported interest in ethical sourcing, it was very surprising to spot controversial (and unsustainable) choices of hammour and jasheed (baby shark). In relation to this, chef Rowe has confirmed that the hammour is farmed in the UAE, and removed the jasheed from the menu with immediate effect.
Following some of the waiter’s recommendations, starters from the ‘small plate and bites’ section of the menu included hummus with prawns and foie gras crème brûlée. The hummus was an airy, creamy recipe, liberally topped with sumac, and small sweet pieces of prawn. The crème brûlée was presented stylishly in a little transparent bowl balanced on its side. The crème brûlée had a thick caramelised crust, and was interspersed with a few tiny pieces of date. A lovely local touch of flavour, though the dish was very sweet, rich and a little heavy going on the palate.
The dish of cauliflower mousse, one of the vegetarian options available, was an elegant plate of clean white mousse, topped with colourful, crisp and fresh tasting baby vegetables, and circled in a vibrant green and aromatic basil oil. The mousse lacked a distinct sense of the truffle flavour described on the menu, though. Another vegetarian option sampled was the saffron risotto. This dish was intensely, richly and deliciously flavoured with saffron. Unfortunately, the rice was inconsistently cooked, and in some corners of the plate, far too chewy and claggy. The black cod main course was a fillet served poached in a vibrant and aromatic Thai broth, flavoured with sweet coconut and fresh lemongrass. Dressed generously with foam and herbs (as are many of the dishes on the menu here), the bowl looked stylish.
Despite that, the fish itself lacked that creamy, fatty quality that ordinarily makes black cod such a decadent experience. On the side, however, was one of the very best mashed potato dishes we have sampled in Dubai. Generously scented with black truffle, the mash itself had an incredibly airy and fluffy quality to it, more like eating a buttery potato soufflé than a humble mash.
The dessert menu was strong and creative. On there was the 24k gold chocolate sphere, which dramatically melted under a warm chocolate sauce (with an intense cocoa bitterness to it), to reveal a creamy, sharp passion fruit centre. And very expensive, at Dhs79, thanks to all that gold leaf. The raw tiramisu was a clever riff on this Italian classic, using very different flavours of walnut, date and coconut, alongside traditional coffee, to very different, but impressive effect.
With plenty of gold and plenty of foie gras on the menu, Omnia by Silvena is not an especially cheap dining experience. It is also not yet a perfect dining experience. Nevertheless, it does have its own very unique, and very distinctive charm, which we look forward to seeing find its feet a little more firmly in the future.
The bill (for two) 1x hummus with prawns Dhs49 1x foie gras crème brûlée Dhs79 1x cauliflower mousse Dhs69 1x risotto Dhs89 1x black cod Dhs190 1x truffle mashed potato Dhs26 1x raw tiramisu Dhs69 1x chocolate sphere Dhs79 1x large water Dhs20 2x mocktail Dhs78 Total (excluding service) Dhs748
Omnia by Silvena