All the best variety acts come in pairs. From the greats Laurel and Hardy to anarchic duo Abbot and Costello, the art of the two-man comedy show can be hard to beat. It was only a matter of time then before Dubai decided to get in on the unique double act. Now on the back streets behind Mall of the Emirates is Wrap & Roll.
Based around the concept of cooking with a Haandi – a traditional Indian clay cookery pot heated over coals – Wrap & Roll is sort of a high-end version of the numerous Pakistani and North Indian restaurants that overspill onto Mankhool Road and Kuwait Street. Starting out as a successful takeaway outlet, the restaurant has since set up a sit-in restaurant full of crisp white linens, concertina-pressed serviettes and enough bow-ties to make Charlie Chaplin jealous.
On a recent visit, in a moment of mistaken slapstick, the plates were placed face down, and my date and I found that we both had different menus. It was a surprising opener for a new restaurant. The menu itself was also a rather confused child and threw up Lebanese staples like homous, muttabal and shish taouk as though they’d be at home in any Karachi cooking pot. Service was good, though a little too much so. Our waitress buzzed around us like an excitable kitten, and approached us four times to take our order before we got our sodas.
We chose a couple of spiced kebabs as a quick warm-up act. These tandoori baked breads were good, but fell just short of delicious. The issue wasn’t the flavour (fresh spices and peppers made for a comforting opener). The problem was that they spent too long over the charcoals and any remnant of a marinade had long evaporated.
They were, alas, too dry. My date ordered a chicken karahi and lamb biryani – as recommended by our Pakistani taxi driver en route – and I opted for some hearty spiced yoghurt chicken tikka. I wanted it to satisfy, and the beautiful mingling of spices seemed eager to do so, but the texture of the chicken, dry and overcooked, stopped the dish short.
I drew comfort instead from an accompanying crunchy, fresh-baked garlic naan. My date’s meethi paratha, soaked in steamed fenugreek leaves, proved a solid bet, though it outplayed his main course: the little flesh there was in his saffron-red tomato gravy clung to its bones in a last defiant act against being eaten.
Yet Wrap & Roll really wanted to please. The service was attentive, the manager stumbled out from the kitchen like a lost Basil Fawlty to offer his regards, and the staff grinned from ear to ear like they just heard the best joke in the world. And, as the anticipating audience, we really did want to like it. But, unfortunately, Wrap & Roll didn’t quite win us over. As a sit-in restaurant, it is still trying to find it’s footing. It is like Gazebo, but not as good; like Ravi’s but not as good value.
The key to a good double act has always been about the timing. While Wrap & Roll may have its delivery down, if it really wants to headline in this city it needs to learn to take the food out of the oven a bit sooner.
The bill (for two) 1x Large water Dhs6.00 2x Diet Pepsi Dhs6.00 1x Methi paratha Dhs10.00 1x Garlic naan Dhs7.00 1x Chicken boti roll Dhs12.00 1x Malai boti roll Dhs12.00 1x Chicken karahi Dhs16.00 1x Mutton biryani Dhs16.00 Service charge Dhs10.80 Total Dhs118.80