The Farm: worth the drive?

We talk to the people behind new concept restaurant


As more and more top-notch restaurants open in Dubai, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for one eatery to differentiate itself from another. However, open up an establishment outside of the city and immediately you’re offering guests something a little different. One advantage these out-of-town venues have over their inner-city counterparts is that the restaurant design can be tailored to the surroundings, rather than having the design dictated by whatever tower block or hotel they are based in. Restaurants at resorts such as Bab Al Shams and The Desert Palm have utilised innovative design features (think floor-to-ceiling windows and unique al-fresco terraces) to take advantage of the desolate beauty of Dubai’s surrounding desert.

The Farm, which opens in the 14.2-million-square-foot Al Barari Estate, has the added benefit of being surrounded by the lush greenery of the botanical gardens with lake views. The restaurant itself has been designed by Leslie Zaal, a member of the family that runs the estate, and features an al-fresco seating area on a deck suspended over a lake. In the hot summer months, the outdoor deck will be tented and temperature-controlled.

According to food and beverage manager, Maheesha Ratnayake, The Farm is more than just a restaurant – it’s a culinary, leisure and social hub.

‘The Farm intends to offer a number of activities for local residents and visitors to Al Barari, which will include activities for children as well as adults,’ explains Maheesha.

More interesting, however, is the attention that will be paid to the produce utilised by The Farm’s menu.

‘The Farm sources some of its fresh produce from local farms in the UAE, but only produce that is fresh, flavorsome and as pure as possible,’ says Maheesha.

While the word ‘some’ might raise a few sceptical eyebrows, Maheesha insists that: ‘The Farm serves the flavours of our planet the way nature intended. Ingredients are ethically sourced and prepared, with emphasis on fine produce and a taste for nothing but the purest combinations.’

It’s also reassuring to know that The Farm will feature its very own herb garden, and the restaurant will be working closely with Al Barari’s onsite plant nursery, Greenworks, which, according to Maheesha, will be seeding an array of fruits and vegetables in the next planting season with the ultimate goal of becoming self sufficient in the production of its fresh produce.

The menu itself has been crafted by Yves de Lafontaine, The Farm’s head chef, who has previously plied his trade in his native Seychelles, Australia and here in the UAE. In keeping with the restaurant’s leaning towards natural produce, Yves spent five years creating and cultivating a successful organic farm in the Seychelles. But will all this be enough to lure Dubaians up the Emirates Road and to Al Barari? Maheesha seems to think so, and points out that, other than food, The Farm intends to offer a number of activities for local residents and visitors to Al Barari in the near future, such as yoga, grape tastings and a not-so-healthy shisha lounge.

While Time Out intends to find out if the drive is worth the while by means of an anonymous review (keep an eye on future issues), it would seem that an increasing number of restaurants are setting themselves apart by, quite literally, standing out from the crowd. See our five picks on the next page.
The Farm is located 15 minutes from Downtown Dubai in the Al Barari Estate in the royal enclave of Nad Al Sheba, opposite The Villa development on Emirates Road (exit 44). Open daily 7.30am-11pm. (04 392 5660). (Opening date: April 27)

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