Two-star Michelin chef Philippe Labbé is cooking in Dubai this week. Time Out went along to his opening night to see if he deserves his acclaim.
I’ve never seen a Frenchman belch.
Despite my close observation they have never once let out a little gastronomy-induced Gallic gas in front of me.
And that comes as a surprise.
Not because I have any negative views of the nation. The country that gave the world culinary creations such as Champagne, croissants and camembert could not be held any higher in my regard.
It surprises me because I was once told that it is a sign of satisfaction in France, and a great honour for a chef, if you burp after eating a good meal.
It is considered a compliment.
If this is true, and I strongly expect it isn’t, then visiting chef Philippe Labbé deserves a hearty burp from Dubai’s diners.
Time Out doesn’t want to be responsible for decline in etiquette standards here in the emirate, so you perhaps shouldn’t start burping at our suggestion.
But you should go and dine at Traiteur this week and discover what a pair of Michelin stars taste like.
The Park Hyatt’s French restaurant is playing host to the award-winning chef and is offering up a special menu designed to showcase the best in modern European cooking.
A protégé of the legendary Alain Ducasse for six years, and head chef at la Chevre d’Or (one of the finest restaurants on the French coast), Phillipe Labbé is one of the world’s truly great chefs.
So foodies in Dubai should expect the highest possible standards.
If you want pile-em high buffet and cheap eats look elsewhere. If you want to be excited about what you eat then give it a try.
As with any highly-anticipated visitor to Dubai (be it ballet, band or DJ) there is a chance of anti-climax. Of having simmering expectations boil over or go sour.
But step into the wonderfully designed Traiteur, with its understated décor and pleasant ambience and you’ll begin to relax.
After forking the first bite of smoked Scottish salmon and crab meat into your mouth you will be almost ready to march straight into the kitchen and burp on the great man straight away.
But that would deny you the opportunity to watch Chef Philippe at work. Not to mention be appalling behaviour.
Traiteur’s theatre-style kitchen sits atop a raised platform and is a stage on which the expert can perform.
Watching him stride through the supporting cast of chefs, all clearly in awe of his brilliance, is to see a master of his craft. A taste here. A drizzle of extra sauce there. And it is ready to serve.
Tortelli with comte cheese and Alba truffle was next to the table. Light, rich and frothy. Another triumph well worthy of a silent burp.
Obviously they are not just giving out Michelin stars with petrol these days, but Labbe deserves his.
There is more to it than best ingredients and excellent preparation.
To achieve double Michelin status requires some imagination.
And that is what Traiteur is offering this week.
Like the breast and confit of Bresse pigeon with zucchini flower risotto.
This brought with it the only disappointment of the meal: pigeon leg. Not that it wasn’t delicious. Just pointless. The amount of meat that can be scavenged from a pigeon leg compares with camel eyelash or frog’s feet.
And it did nothing but deflect time and attention away from the breast. The tender meat of a pigeon’s breast may not be a common inclusion on Dubai’s menus. But judging from the satisfied murmurs from my dining partner it seams the pigeon’s of Bresse cannot sleep easy at night.
The risotto was creamy and soft to the bite and a wonderful addition to the meal. Although the zucchini flower may have been an extravagance as its taste was subtle enough to be rendered almost insignificant.
Only one dessert was is being offered this week. But when it is as good as the caremelised pear with chocolate praline and ginger ice cream there won’t be any complaints.
The contrast of the spicy ginger with sweet caramel and pear is the final spoon of imagination on the well thought out menu.
It is not often a double-Michelin star winner serves up dinner in Dubai. So food-lovers should make the effort to go out and see Philippe Labbé at Traiteur. He is here for just four more nights before jetting back to France so book now.
Leaving the restaurant I took one last look at the master in action. Looking down from the glass-sided staircase into the kitchen I couldn’t help but let out a small burp of thanks to Chef Philippe.
I didn’t want to be rude after all.
The four course set menu at Traiteur costs Dhs495 per person