Balance Café

Can healthy café pull off tough balancing act? 10 Reviews

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You might scratch your head in wonder trying to decipher the idea behind an ayurvedic café. You may still be a little puzzled even after an explanation, but it’s a novel concept that highlights a hole in Dubai’s café scene: there’s a shortage of venues that offer a healthy range of food including gluten-free, dairy-free and plenty for vegetarians.

Balance, put simply, is built around the principle that each person has a body type that matches one of five elements: air, space, water, fire and earth. As a holistic therapy, ayurveda treatments include whole-body healing, believing that what you eat can have an overall effect – over and above the normal fat, calories, sugar an so on – on your health and wellbeing. The café has developed five menus, with different options for starters, mains and dessert in accordance with each element: so the air menu is said to be light and mobile, while the earth menu is dense and heavy, and has a different outcome on your body.

Having digested all this information from the handy place mats laid out before us, my date and I set about to trying to decide which element we felt like consuming. Having indulged in quite a few rich meals of late, I plumped for the fire menu, said to revive the metabolism, while my date chose the space and air menu, which is meant to clear the mind (you don’t have to stick to one menu, but it makes sense).

Despite the impressive list of healthy yet enticing dishes, Balance wobbled a little during our first encounter with the serving staff. Its recent opening and slightly out-of-the-way location at Oasis Centre meant the large, airy venue wasn’t busy on our visit, but there were an abundance of staff, who unfortunately proved it’s quality not quantity that matters. After reiterating several times we didn’t want our mains arriving at the same time as our starters (why would we?), we set about demolishing a refreshing mint cooler and a zingy cucumber juice to kick-start the healthy buzz. My date ordered a carpaccio of tomatoes, which came delicately arranged in a pizza-style slice and proved an instant hit: light, tasty and interesting. In contrast, my starter, a hot lime chicken and mushroom soup, looked like dirty dishwater and didn’t taste much better. ‘Hot lime water’ would have been a more accurate description, although I found a couple of minuscule tasters of boiled chicken at the bottom.

Unfortunately, at this point in the meal Balance started to topple over, weighted too heavily by over-eager yet under-trained staff. Our mains arrived within 30 seconds of the starters and we asked for them to be sent back.

Reappearing the moment we’d finished the starters, both main courses suffered from having been sat under a warming lamp for far too long. My miso-glazed tuna steak with ratoutille should have fallen apart delicately under my fork; instead it was almost rock-hard on top and tough to chew. The side dish and the glaze had flavour, but the tuna was a write-off. Similarly, my date’s asparagus risotto with truffle oil was nicely flavoured, but the sitting period had reduced it to a gluggy challenge.

Slightly disappointed, we abandoned the concept and shared a dessert based on ‘temptation’, and were glad we did. The poached strawberries with a balsamic glaze and basil ice cream managed to prevent Balance Café from collapsing completely. The dessert wouldn’t have seemed out of place in an upmarket restaurant – we’ll overlook the request for two spoons resulting in the waitress thinking we wanted cheese.

Balance Café is obviously in a teething period, but the service –incompetent at times, over-efficient to the point of snatching empty dishes the moment a fork is laid to rest at others – tips the focus away from the food, which should be an utter delight.

The bill (for two)
1x Mint cooler
Dhs10
1x Cucumber juice Dhs16
1x Small water Dhs10
1x Lime chicken soup Dhs18
1x Tomato carpaccio Dhs22
1x Risotto Dhs30
1x Miso-glazed tuna Dhs56
1x Poached strawberries Dhs16
Total (excluding service) Dhs178

By Oliver Robinson
Time Out Dubai,

Time Out reviews restaurants anonymously and pays for meals. Of course, we cannot guarantee the accuracy or independence of user reviews.

Details

  • Location: Oasis Centre, Al Quoz, Dubai
  • Tel: 04 384 7010
  • Travel: Sheikh Zayed Road
  • Cuisine: Cafés
  • Times: Open Sat-Wed 7.30am-10pm; Thu-Fri 10am-11pm
  • Credit Cards Accepted: Yes
  • Restaurants Awards [Shortlist] Café

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User reviews

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  • Users voted this restaurant most suitable for: Business lunch

User reviews:

Posted by: Vinita on 13 Mar ' 13 at 10:50
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FoodAmbienceValue
  • Would you go back to this restaurant? Yes

Fabulous food and real good value for money. Ordered the chicken wrap and it tasted real yummy. Even love their Ginger Lemon Honey tea. Worth visiting definitely if you are a foodie and also health concious.

Posted by: PRANAV on 11 Mar ' 13 at 19:21
OverallDecorService
FoodAmbienceValue
  • Best for: Business lunch
  • Would you go back to this restaurant? Yes

BALANCE CAFE IS THE BEST CAFE FOR HEALTHY FOOD.THE CALORIES IS MENTIONED IN THE MENU OF EVERY FOOD AND DRINK DISHES.IT ALSO HAS A MONTHLY MEAL PLAN AND COOKING SCHOOL WHERE WE CAN LEARN DIFFERENT TYPES OF CUISINE OF THE WORLD.THE AMBEINCE OF THE CAFE IS VERY GOOD.STEAM CREAM DORY IN MAIN COURSE AND BAKED YOGHURT IN DESSERT IS MY FAVOURITE DISH.AND IN DRINK I ALWAYS LOVE TO DRINK MANGO IMMUNE BOOSTER.BALANCE CAFE ROCKS IN DUBAI...THE STAFFS ARE VERY KNOWLEDGEABLE AND FRIENDLY.

Posted by: rosalinda paned on 11 Mar ' 13 at 12:57
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  • Best for: Brunch served
  • Would you go back to this restaurant? Yes

excellent food & service! i will visit often.

Posted by: Deepali on 11 Mar ' 13 at 12:51

Healthy and tasty food as per ayurvedic principles. Friendly and attentive staff.

Posted by: Not a Happy Customer on 31 Jan ' 13 at 08:08
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  • Would you go back to this restaurant? No

Another Dubai cafe specialising in tasteless, overpriced food. Chocolate mousse without any chocolate, seared cream dory that tasted like it was hard boiled and when we asked the server why it was like this, were told these were the "healthy versions" of dishes. Really disappointing. To top it all the cafe sells its Ayurvedic approach to food and none of the servers knew anything about it. They told us to visit the Balance fitness joint next door to learn more.

Posted by: Ana Karina Buairide on 09 Apr ' 12 at 06:12
OverallFoodValue
  • Would you go back to this restaurant? No

I ordered food from their home deliver menu. Grilled Prawns with pesto soba noodle. Two small prawns for 52 dirhams and where is the pesto I still do not know. Oh, there is a small dash on the top of one of prawns... So small I could not see or taste. Pesto soba noodles and soba noodles with tomato sauce are two different things. Never again.

Posted by: Yogesh on 18 Mar ' 12 at 17:56
OverallDecorService
FoodAmbienceValue
  • Best for: Business lunch
  • Would you go back to this restaurant? Yes

This is the place for a healthy and delicious breakfast and Lunch. They have state-of-the-art cooking school as well.
The only places where you will find calories mention in their menu.


Posted by: Linne on 01 Nov ' 11 at 14:46
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  • Would you go back to this restaurant? Yes

Posted by: Bala on 19 Oct ' 11 at 16:55
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  • Would you go back to this restaurant? No

Posted by: Jenny Howard on 05 Sep ' 11 at 17:54
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FoodAmbienceValue
  • Would you go back to this restaurant? No

On my last two visits to Balance Cafe it has been very disappointing. The staff are unattentive and you have to wait forever to get served - even when we are the only customers.

I used to visit this cafe frequently before the summer, whilst the food was always hit and miss the staff were always pretty good. I don't how things have changed so much, as it is the same staff.

Yesterday we made the mistake of ordering some food and it took over 30 minutes to get a salad and when it arrived it was the wrong order. We decided to eat what was severed as we didn't have time to wait any longer, however the greens were well past their best and it very unappetising. To make matters worse the ambience was somewhat ruined by the noise coming from the lounge area where the Chef and two managers were huddled around a laptop, laughing and joking at the top of their voices. If only they were as interested in the customers!

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