The Lime Tree Café
Much to do at latest in long-standing restaurant chain 4 Reviews
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If there’s one area of Dubai that’s clamouring for a good lunch spot, it’s Media City (and before you ask, we’re not just saying this because Time Out Towers happens to be in this neck of the woods). The place is packed to the rafters with professionals ready and willing to part with their hard-earned dirhams for a decent midday meal. Vapiano’s serves its purpose, but isn’t exactly the kind of place you’d spend a long lunch, while Pascal Tepper Bakery is still trying to convince customers of its credentials after a slow opening month.
Step forward The Lime Tree Café. From Al Quoz to Jumeirah, this Dubai-based chain has long impressed with hearty breakfasts, healthy lunches and wickedly delicious desserts. So it was little surprise to find its latest branch in Media City’s Concord Tower (the one with a Mini Cooper glued to the side) bustling with customers when myself and two colleagues popped in for lunch. Yet despite the flurry of bodies, the venue didn’t feel cramped. We put this down to the tall floor-to-ceiling windows and simple colour scheme of charcoal, bronze and brown, which in turn is punctuated by Kiwiana (kitsch New Zealand pop art; a phrase I learned from my Kiwi colleague). I was particularly taken by the low-hanging lampshades constructed from upturned cauldrons.
The food looked equally enticing. Bulging sandwiches and wraps lined the top shelf of the chiller cabinet – Portobello mushroom with tomato relish, beef bacon and cheddar; tandoori chicken naan; mounds of rice and pasta salads (quinoa and wild rice salad with honey; roasted kumara and dried lime; green couscous with pistachio and rocket). The adjoining fridge boasted brick-like brownies, cuts of cheesecake and a hulking raspberry teacake that wouldn’t have looked out of place at the Mad Hatter’s tea party.
We’d beaten the 1pm rush so found ourselves at the front of the queue in no time at all and, after some deliberation, managed to place our order and find our table. Our food didn’t take too long to arrive and we were soon confronted with shepherd’s pie, beef bacon tortellini with pumpkin, and split pea and capsicum salad with pumpkin seed dressing (we can’t get enough of pumpkin). Pulses, according to my colleague, are ‘always interesting’, but she objected to the fact that there were more onions than capsicum in her salad – either the ingredients should adhere to the dish name, or the dish should change its name altogether. She was equally unimpressed by the ‘unexciting’ bun. I was unsure how exciting a bun could be, but I soon saw her point when I was served a similarly unexciting bun with my tortellini – a white, near-stale bap, a wholly unnecessary addition to an already carb-heavy dish. The tortellini itself was well formed and generously stuffed with beef bacon, but the fridge had strangled it of all its fresh flavour. I understand how hygiene is a priority in any restaurant, and I appreciate how difficult it must be to maintain in such hot weather, but cramming all your food into an overly cold fridge is perhaps not the answer.
The chill didn’t even subside for the shepherd’s pie, which had to be reheated. Once it was returned to the table it proved fairly enjoyable, although it was top-heavy with potato, meaning that the middle of the mash was rather stodgy. Things rapidly improved once we reached the meat, though our only lament was that there wasn’t enough of it.
None of us had any complaints about the strawberry yoghurt and the triple berry smoothie, which were fresh and refreshing in equal measure. Unfortunately, the same couldn’t be said of the wedge of raspberry teacake we ordered for dessert, which suffered – in want of a better phrase – the same ‘taste of fridge’ as the bacon tortellini. Cakes don’t belong in the fridge – if necessity forces them in there, they should at least be covered. Lime Tree’s raspberry teacake was left open to the chill, and proved rather tasteless as a result. The only stand-out flavour was, rather worryingly, the taste of sour cream. It was left unfinished.
Yet Lime Tree’s latest venture is by no means one to avoid. Our lunch may have been hit and miss, but both my colleagues (who have visited this branch before) assured me that the hot sandwiches and the beef pie are usually very good. Considering the current dearth of lunchtime options in Media City, I have no other choice but to take their word for it. In the meantime, I can only hope Lime Tree finds its feet after Ramadan.
The bill (for three)
1x Capsicum salad Dhs18
1x Tortellini Dhs26
1x Shepherd’s pie Dhs32
1x Strawberry smoothie Dhs20
1x Triple berry smoothie Dhs25
1x Raspberry teacake Dhs20
Total (excluding service) Dhs141
Time Out Dubai,
Time Out reviews restaurants anonymously and pays for meals. Of course, we cannot guarantee the accuracy or independence of user reviews.