A well-known French bistro in its native Lebanon, where there are currently two branches, Couqley’s arrival in Dubai’s JLT has brought licensed Gallic dining to the neighbourhood for the first time. Split into a bar and restaurant, both with the same distinctly bistro-esque themes of dark wood furniture and checked upholstery, it all feels fairly classically European.
The menu is reliably French, bearing everything from steak and moules frites to escargot. Service is swift and helpful, with recommendations to try one of Couqley’s signature dishes. We dutifully opt for the steak frites, preceded by the warm goat’s cheese salad. Across the table, our vegetarian dining companion battles with a shortage of options, eventually plumping for the poêlée de champignons.
As we plough through the free bread, the restaurant begins to fill up and the atmosphere grows more relaxed. Starters arrive swiftly, and the salad is not quite as expected, but all the better for it, with melting goat’s cheese spilling from crisp, golden filo tubes onto a mountain of well-dressed green leaves.
Along with the rich, creamy poêlée de champignons – something of a deconstructed mushroom pie – it’s the highlight of the meal. Surprisingly, it’s the Couqley steak frites signature that falls flat. While the steak is, as requested, authentically rare, it’s swamped in a rich, buttery jus that lacks any depth of flavour, and accompanied by lacklustre fries.
There’s heaps of potential for Couqley to become JLT’s answer to a Belgian Café-style spot. But in an increasingly competitive corner of the community, it’s going to take some finesse to nail it.
The Bill (for two) 1x poelee de champignons Dhs67 1x salad de chevre chaud Dhs69 1x Couqley's steak frites Dhs97 1x large water Dhs25
The bottom line A buzzing bistro vibe, but so-so steak.