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Housed inside a stylish boutique, Comptoir 102 is what happens when healthy eating meets Parisian taste. Since our last visit, it’s now twice the size, with a cosy new bamboo-lined conservatory at the back. The café specialises in organic food and local produce, and recipes are primarily vegan, raw and gluten-free. Just double check before ordering if you adhere strictly to one of these diets.
Although there is an à la carte selection of juices, salads and sandwiches, the main draw is the set menu, which changes every day. Expect vegan pizza, low-calorie falafel and lots of spiralising and dehydrating. On our last visit, towards the tail end of the evening, they’d run out of all the specials. Ordinarily, we’d have a good moan. In the case of Comptoir 102, where the staff explained that they don’t want to waste food or freeze anything, we’ve got to love them more for their dedication to their cause.
So, off the à la carte menu, we ate a lot of superfood-stuffed variations on a healthy theme. All fresh, generously sized and flavoursome. If you like your food heavily seasoned, perhaps this is not for you. However, if naked flavour and traceability excite you, this place is an unmissable treat.
The bottom line
As green as it gets in Dubai, with style and taste in spades.
THE VEGETARIAN VIEW
Nestled away in a villa on Jumeirah Beach Road you’ll find Comptoir 102 – a trendy café-meets-concept store.
The menu is packed full of healthy dishes with the majority being plant-based (a handful contain eggs and cheese), raw and gluten-free, and there’s a specials menu that changes based on what’s seasonal at the time. The café also sources all its fruit and vegetables from local organic farms.
After scouring the menu we decide on the seaweed pesto (hijiki served with guacamole and raw flaxseed crackers) and the vegan kale Caesar salad with avocado, “bacon”, chickpeas, cucumber, lentils and a creamy dairy-free dressing.
The portions are generous and everything tastes super-fresh.
We wash it down with a “golden latte”, concocted with homemade almond milk, turmeric, pepper, honey and cinnamon.
Don’t leave without trying the choco petit pot – a rich and creamy chocolate mousse topped with roasted hazelnuts – it’s hard to believe it’s not only plant-based but refined sugar-and gluten-free too.
Compared to other cafés in the city, it’s on the pricier side with dishes averaging in at about Dhs65 and superfood packed smoothies (think açaí, guarana and spirulina) going up to Dhs37, but the quality of the food is justification enough.
With trendy vibes, a cosy feel and fab food, you could while away hours with a book and herbal tea. A peaceful haven in Jumeirah that’s well-worth a visit.
WHAT IS IT...
A cool healthy café meets concept store
For healthy food and the choco petit pot
There’s no shortage of healthy eateries in JLT, yet Little Erth by Nabz & G (formely Urth by Nabz & G), is always a busy and popular spot.
With an indoor space adorned with motivational quotes and a small outdoor seating section it’s an ideal place to sit and watch life go by.
This restaurant is all about connecting with the planet by serving wholesome foods that are full of the earth’s “positive energy”. Don’t let that flowery mission statement put you off though (unless that’s your normal vibe, in which case you’ll love it), the food is surprisingly “normal” with items on the menu such as paella, burgers and risotto.
The menu is handily labelled with all items vegan unless stated otherwise (no more searching for that vital V symbol).
We opt for the summer rolls and vegan cheese tartine to start. The rolls are big – get these to share – and packed full of fresh parsley and coriander with a delightful peanut butter dip.
The star of the starters though is the tartine. The “cheese” is made with tofu, cashew cream and dill and is some of the best vegan cheese we’ve ever had.
The mains are winners, too. The veggie tofu bowl is packed full of flavour and the butternut squash curry stew is creamy yet light. Meanwhile the zesty spaghetti (courgetti, here) is deliciously fresh, laced with zingy lemongrass and cashew cream.
If you have room, try the gluten-free, sugar-free and dairy-free desserts, as well.
For vegan food this should be the top of your list. We’ll be back.
WHAT IS IT...
Healthy restaurant in the heart of JLT
For the moreish vegan cheese tartine
When Tr!beca opened in 2015 it was one of the city’s few retro-cool hangouts with an organic food and grape ethos and alignment to the slow food movement.
Now, there’s a number of such venues across Dubai, increasing the competition for this one somewhat. But it remains popular – just head down on a Thursday and Friday night and you’ll see what we mean.
This is a nightclub-esque bar, where the DJ pumps out loud beats and the vibe reaches fever pitch well before midnight.
Despite the frenetic pace at night, the menu is all about slow food (as is the service, which can be hit and miss). Tr!beca’s focus is preserving tradition, encouraging sustainable farming and supporting small, independent businesses. As such, it’s full of seasonal, locally grown ingredients, as well as natural, organic and free-range produce. There’s even a fresh new vegan menu with dishes including carrot tartare and buffalo cauliflower poppers.
If you’re a fish fan, opt for the black cod ceviche to start. The fish is marinated in citrus juices, coriander and mint. Mango and avocado lift the tart flavours, while a smattering of Thai chilli gives it a kick.
Follow up with classic bar food such as the indulgent lamb burger stuffed with shreds of tender pulled meat piled high on a soft bun and topped with melted cheddar cheese and a spicy Cajun mayo. It’s utterly delicious.
For some decent, organic grub and a lively night out, it’s worth checking out Tr!beca.
THE VEGETARIAN VIEW
Tribeca will take you back to your student years, with its comic book wallpaper, graffiti murals, and industrial vibes.
Hopefully these days you’re wearing a clean t-shirt and have given your hair a brush, for all its laid-back and casual atmosphere, this is still a trendy bar and restaurant in Dubai.
Themed on the trendy lower Manhattan neighbourhood of Tribeca, this JBR hangout is spacious with a warehouse-style ceiling and a hops pong table.
The menu features American dishes like pizzas, tacos and mac ’n’ cheese, and, more surprisingly, is a comprehensive vegan list, including the likes of artichoke dip, ricotta gnocchi, truffle risotto and carrot tartare.
Service is fast and our nachos arrive in record time. Despite rumbling bellies, they’re not consumed with the same haste – as they’re just not that appetising. It’s not cheap, either, ringing in at Dhs75.
We’re impressed with the range on the vegan menu – the bar is clearly trying hard, which we give credit to – but the artichoke dip and the vurger aren’t much to shout about either, disappointingly.
That being said, we’re not here for fine dining and we enjoy the buzzing atmosphere, which makes for a fun night out.
It’s as lively as any student union, but without the sticky carpets and lingering studenty smells, and for drinks, it’s an experience we’d happily resit.
We’re thrilled with the effort and idea of the vegan menu, but more is needed in the execution.
WHAT IS IT...
A trendy bar in JBR with a new vegan menu
The fun vibe
Ají is one of several beach-facing restaurants at Palm Jumeirah’s Club Vista Mare. And while many of them are on our recommendations list, if you’re after some stunning, upmarket dishes, Ají is the one to visit.
The Japanese-Peruvian Nikkei restaurant manages to balance creativity, palate-thrilling execution and, perhaps most significantly, value for money.
Try starting with shiromi tacos, filled with a sea bass and yuzu ceviche, and the oributako causa, one of the menu’s more classically Peruvian dishes. While the former are light, zesty and packed with meaty fish, the causa owns the table.
Fat, tender slices of octopus line up alongside a dollop of dense, whipped (and slightly lemony) potato, all encircling a tangy, creamy black olive mayonnaise. The robalo – a medley of seafood served with a light, smoky sauce and a black rice fritter – are also a winner. Don’t miss the scallop ceviche, either, it’s top-notch. All dishes are presented beautifully, it’s as if you’re eating a work of art.
Enjoy the food, take in the sea views and make an evening of.
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