Promising internationally influenced dishes, the menu at Scafé is devised and prepared by the chefs at new JLT cookery school Scafa, who are also charged with imparting their culinary knowledge to the city’s eager cookery students.

After phoning to enquire about opening times, I was greeted by a friendly but fairly unsure voice informing me the bistro would be open that evening until 9pm. Sadly, when I arrived just after 7pm the kitchen was closed, so I decided to revisit for lunch. I later learned that Scafé is in the process of working out which schedule of service works best for its concept, so we’d advise sampling the lunch service for now.

I returned for an early lunch and was immediately struck by how the daylight did infinitely better justice to the location. Situated in a quiet corner on one of JLT’s ground-level promenades, the entire exterior wall of the café is made of glass, ensuring the small, simple space is drenched in clean, crisp sunlight. Inside, the space is casual and appealingly simple, but with plenty of colour thanks to the palette of vibrant greens.

The menu offered a tight selection of bistro dishes in classic European styles. I opted for the recommended ‘Scafé juice’ and the fig and pear salad to start, followed by the chicken and mushroom risotto. Service was friendly and prompt – after a few minutes of flicking through the food magazines available for guests to browse, items from my order began arriving to distract my attention from reading.

The Scafé juice was a delicious palate-awakening mix of aromatic basil and sour grapefruit, with a little peppery kick in the background – I’d highly recommend it as a liquid palate cleanser with which to start your meal. The fig and pear salad arrived looking simple, unfussy, yet invitingly colourful. It seemed at first rather a small portion, but I soon felt satisfied by the fullness of flavour. From the first bite I was hit by an intense, mouth- filling, punch of truffle, followed by the wonderfully fruity depth of the sticky, sweetly sour balsamic dressing. Within this framework, the flavours of the pear, fig, parmesan and pine nuts made this a light yet pleasure-packed start to the meal.

The chicken and mushroom risotto arrived, appetisingly presented. Again I noticed the punchy truffle and plenty of layered flavours, only this time I found the dish a little too indulgent and heavy. Even so, the rice was well cooked, as were the juicy slabs of chicken, although there was the odd bit of cartilage tucked between the moist flesh.

I finished with a coffee (I took a shine to the sharply designed cup and saucer in which it was served), alongside a minuscule bowl containing a complimentary taste of rich, creamy chocolate ganache. As I devoured it, I weighed up my experience: aside from the initial hiccup, Scafé is a pleasant spot for a relaxed breakfast or lunch, with an affordable and accessible menu.

The bill (for one)
1x salad
1x risotto Dhs55
1x juice Dhs15
1x large water Dhs10
1x coffee Dhs10
Total (excluding service) Dhs135