We put to the test the city's best online gourmet food stores
Making life quicker and easier is one of Dubai’s strengths, but when it comes to food, there’s now a gourmet middle ground between the supermarket shop and takeway. The solution? Online gourmet food stores. This year we’ve seen a growing number of gourmet delivery options spring up across the city, and there are more developments coming in November with Milk & Honey launching a delivery app, and Greenheart Organic expanding into dairy products and opening a store.
To help you make the most of these options, we put three of the city’s favourites to the test: Down to Earth, Organic Foods & Café and Ripe. With a rough budget of Dhs150 (including, where possible, the delivery charges), we ordered a representative selection of products. The options at each store proved to be so different that we bought a range of goods from each to reflect the variety on offer, but steered clear of the more expensive items, to stick to our budget. Plus, we’ve listed ten more options for you to try.
Down to Earth The company’s online ordering system is currently under construction, so Down to Earth’s Facebook page is the primary means of placing an order. This system proved to be easy to use, offering plenty of clear information for each product. There is no fresh produce on offer, but there is a vast and varied selection of organic and gluten-free store-cupboard goods, including cereals, biscuits, tea, cooking sauces and spices – you can even buy organic underwear. While, officially, we’ve been told orders need to be placed 24 hours in advance, when we inquired anonymously we were told our order would be delivered to us the same day.
In reality, our delivery was cancelled on two consecutive days because of staff illness, and was finally delivered on the third. However, since, there was no delivery charge, and Down to Earth’s prices are relatively affordable, we were able to buy many more products with our Dhs150 budget than at other sites. From our shopping bag, the soy milk was good quality and not overly sweetened, while the gluten-free mung bean chips were light, nutty and not at all greasy. The gluten-free saffron twist pasta was a little chewy, but had a unique flavour. The berry and white chocolate cookies were moist and the organic honey had a divine, intensely orangey flavour, but the four-grain cereal mix was a little dry and dull – it would be better as a base to make your own. Aside from the issues over delivery, this was a positive, reasonably priced experience. Minimum spend: Dhs100. Delivery charge: none. Minimum notice: 24 hours. Delivery: Sat-Thu 5.30pm- 9pm. Payment methods: cash or card. Order via: Email, Facebook, phone. Ordering via the website is currently under construction. www.downtoearthorganic.ae (800 674 2642).
The bill 1x 1l soya milk Dhs10 1x 500g muesli Dhs12.50 1x 500g quinoa Dhs22.25 1x 250g saffron pasta Dhs19.5 1x 250g tea Dhs15.75 1x 180g cookies Dhs22 1x 50g mung bean chips Dhs8.75 1x 125g wild rice Dhs18 1x 100g red chilli flakes Dhs6 1x 250g honey Dhs15 Delivery charge None
Organic Foods & Café Orders are made primarily through the website, which we found awkward and time-consuming to use. Having said that, the site offers a good range of organic items that reflect the scope of the average grocery shop, such as vegetables, bread and dairy products. Our order arrived the same day (as promised), and with less notice than the other stores, although it did arrive a couple of hours later than expected.
The food was thoughtfully packaged in re-used cardboard boxes, which gets eco-friendly brownie points from us, and the camembert was placed in ice to keep it cool. Sadly, the camembert lacked flavour because it wasn’t very ripe. The local plum tomatoes had a good flavour, but the texture was far too firm. Luckily, the Braeburn apples were giant and extremely juicy, the mountain power multi-seed loaf came pre-sliced for convenience and was soft and fresh. The last-minute switch of quince jam (which was out of stock) for apricot jam (using only acacia honey as a sweetener) was a fortunate one – it was deliciously rich and fruity, but with no sugary sickliness. The delivery charge here is steep, at Dhs50 per order, so we weren’t able to buy as many items as at other stores while remaining within our budget, but overall the products were good quality and the delivery process was more convenient. Minimum spend: none. Delivery charge: Dhs50 for orders under Dhs250, free for orders of Dhs250 and above. Minimum notice: 24 hours. Delivery: Thu-Tue 9am-5pm. Payment method: cash or credit card (Mastercard or Visa only). Order via: email or website. www.organicfoodsandcafe.com (050 654 8813).
The bill 1x bread Dhs8.95 1x box 16 Chai teabags Dhs16 1x 100g camembert Dhs13 1x 1,010g tomatoes Dhs20.20 1x 1,200g apples Dhs15.81 1x 250g apricot jam Dhs20.25 Delivery charge Dhs50
Ripe Ripe’s delivery schedule is a little complex, with orders for each area of Dubai being made on scheduled days each week. It isn’t the most time-efficient system for consumers, but it allows Ripe to work to its ethos of providing fresh produce within days of it leaving local farms. When we enquired anonymously as to when we needed to place our order to receive it that week, Ripe was very accommodating about squeezing us into the schedule for the week.
The website is easy to navigate and primarily offers vegetables, with a few additional items such as eggs and coffee (from Raw, at Dhs85). However, it lacks information for some items (we don’t need much description for a tomato, but more detail on Dhs220 honey is a must). We’ve subsequently been told there is no delivery charge, but were in fact charged an additional Dhs5 when ordering online.
The food arrived on the scheduled day as promised, in cardboard with no excess plastic to separate the veg (full marks for being green). The simple, rustic packaging, and slightly gritty feel to the cucumbers (as if they had just been pulled out of the earth) made us feel as if we’d picked the items from the farm ourselves. The eggs were firm yet springy when made into scrambled eggs. Compared to supermarket equivalents, the fresh basil (in a pot) had a brighter aroma and the tomatoes and cucumbers had a more concentrated flavour. While the avocados were a little watery, their flavour was intensely sweet. If you can fit Ripe’s deliveries into your schedule, it’s worth making the effort. Minimum spend: Dhs150. Delivery charge: Dhs5. Minimum notice: As per delivery schedule. Delivery: As per delivery schedule. Payment method: card or cash. Order via: email or website. www.ripeme.com (04 380 7602).
The bill 1x small pot of basil Dhs12 1x 1kg cucumber Dhs15 1x 1kg potato Dhs15 1x 6 eggs Dhs15 1x 500g avocado Dhs25 1x 1kg tomato Dhs30 1x 1kg apple Dhs30 Delivery charge Dhs5
Ten more to try
1 Antipodes water If you must drink premium, non-local water, this family-run (and carbon-neutral) company delivers water from New Zealand, shipped via sea to your door in Dubai. Minimum spend: none. Delivery charge: none. Minimum notice: Delivery within one week of placing an order. Order via: website. www.antipodes.co.nz (04 263 3113).
2 Blue Planet Green People This grocery store in JLT offers home delivery on eco-friendly, health-conscious products including organic foods and locally grown veg, organic baby foods, cleaning products and make-up. Minimum spend: none. Delivery charge: Dhs25 for orders under Dhs120. Minimum notice: 24 hours. Order via: website. www.blueplanetgreenpeople.com (04 369 5209).
3 Chez Charles The online deli sources gourmet ingredients from around the world: think Italian oils, Scottish mussels, Australian beef and French cheese, plus fruit and veg from Europe. Minimum spend: Dhs200. Delivery charge: none. Minimum notice: 48 hours. Order via: website. www.chezcharles.ae (055 763 3399).
4 Diva Life This local online chocolate boutique specialises in Belgium chocolate in a variety of guises, including creative infusions ranging from strawberry cheesecake to oolong tea. Minimum spend: Dhs140. Delivery charge: Dhs25 for orders under Dhs300. Minimum notice: 48 hours. Order via: website. www.divalife.ae (050 103 6093).
5 Greenheart Organic Uniquely, this local organic produce specialist doesn’t just sell fruit and veg – it grows them too, placing an emphasis on (naturally) building up the nutrients in the soil. After launching in February, this new company already has several plans in the pipeline, including a dairy where it will make its own cheeses, and a shop, set to open in Barsha in late November. Minimum spend: From Dhs60. Delivery charge: none. Minimum notice: 24 hours. Order via: Email (website is under development). www.greenheartuae.com (056 640 7060).
6 Gourmet Point Specialising in high-quality and artisan ingredients, Gourmet Point offers a small selection of kitchen-cupboard essentials such as premium oils and jams. Minimum spend: none. Delivery charge: none. Minimum notice: 48 hours Order via: Email or phone. www.gourmetpoint.com (050 454 7535).
7 Milk & Honey This gourmet grocery store already offers a convenient but primarily phone-based ordering system. Orders via the website, as well as a dedicated app, are due to launch in November. The selection is varied, covering all bases including bread, coffee, dairy, fruit and veg, as well as patisserie and deli items. The Palm Jumeirah store offers 24-hour delivery. Minimum spend: Dhs50. Delivery charge: none. Minimum notice: 30-45 mins. Order via: Phone or email. Delivery via the website and app is under construction. www.milkandhoney.ae (04 432 8686).
8 Prime Gourmet While the range on offer at this butcher is fairly red-meat-heavy, there is a lengthy list of premium beef products, including wagyu, available to order via the website. Minimum spend: Dhs150. Delivery charge: Dhs50 for orders under Dhs300. Minimum notice: 24 hours. Order via: website. www.primegourmet.ae (04 341 5445).
9 Raw Coffee Shop via this Dubai-based coffee roastery’s website to have fresh, organic and ethically traded products delivered to your door. It also offers accessories such as grinders and brewing equipment. Minimum spend: Dhs85 (for 500g). Delivery charge: Free. Minimum notice: 24 hours. Order via: website. www.rawcoffeecompany.com (04 339 5474).
10 Sweet Connection This gluten-free bakery makes its own bread, pizza, cookies and more. It offers egg-and dairy-free products and can create bespoke cakes on request. Minimum spend: Dhs125. Delivery charge: none. Minimum notice: 24 hours. Order via: website or phone. www.sweetconnectiondubai.com (050 876 3351).