Will the Montreal chain fill Dubai’s café gap?
  • 2

Time Out Says

Dubai has worked hard to alleviate itself of culinary gaps. Gone are the days when expats could bemoan the impossibility of satiating a sushi craving, Italy-standard bowls of pasta are no longer in short supply, and no one in this town is left wanting a good Peking duck. Oddly, though, the last decade hasn’t really seen much development in the café scene. There are a number of little shops and mega chains that offer coffee, but few quaint little spots that serve decent pastries and food on the side. There’s More, there’s Lime Tree, there’s a handful of others, but outside of these few institutions, there’s not much that inspires. Every time a new café opens I am both hopeful and distrusting. I have been burned too many times by café menus full of promise that ultimately proved substandard.

So, there’s a new café in town. The Montreal Bread Company, or MBCO for short. I heard third-hand that the venue served the best cheesecake in Dubai. I looked the menu up online. It held (I tremble as I write) promise. There were three-cheese omelettes with truffle oil, there were pizzas baked on focaccia bread, there were lobster and shrimp quesadillas. These all sounded, well, delicious. And, even though the café was miles from my home or work, I trekked out to the Arabian Ranches – a neighbourhood that needs a café like no other – hoping it would prove a boon to Dubai’s far-off communities.

The café has both a blazingly bright, austere interior, and a more relaxed, cushioned al fresco area. My date and I slid into one of the outdoor couches and took to the difficult task of choosing what to eat. Things were off to a good start with a chicken and red pepper pizza. The crust was crumbly and delicate. Some might say this isn’t how pizza crust should be, that what we ate wasn’t pizza. This may be the case but, whatever it was, it was wonderful. The courses that followed (or, more accurately, arrived at the same time) failed to dazzle to the same extent. I couldn’t resist the truffle-cheese omelette.

Oddly, though, despite the fact it was supposedly made up of several ingredients, all with strong, distinct flavours, the dish was completely bland. I wondered how it was possible the omelette would not offer even a hint of cheese or truffle? My date’s tuna club sandwich was also duller than it should have been. The cuts of rare, seared tuna were aided somewhat by a sesame crust, but otherwise the fish was tasteless, and the addition of overly moist roasted mushrooms and spinach didn’t really bring the flavours out as expected. It wasn’t a bad sandwich overall, just not an interesting one either.

Desserts, while not mind blowing, were satisfying, and mostly stuck to formula. My date and I were both pleased that neither her crème brûlée nor my warm tart tatin was overly sweet. Both, however, were lacking in pizzazz, and the crème brûlée suffered from not being fresh. The consistency was a bit dense, and tasted too eggy, and the top wasn’t overly warm or crisp, as is ideal. The tart tatin was nicer, but could have used some ice cream to complete it.

To be fair, MBCO isn’t a bad spot. It doesn’t really outwardly offend, but neither does it stand out. It makes a perfectly acceptable stopping point if you’re in the vicinity of the Arabian Ranches, but it has not, as (gasp) hoped, filled the necessary niche in the market. MBCO’s a nice chain, but we’re going to have to continue holding out for the perfect café.

The bill (for two)
1x Pizza Dhs42
1x Tuna sandwich Dhs55
1x Omelet Dhs25
1x Tarte tartin Dhs19
1x Crème brulee Dhs25
1x Pineapple & mint smoothie Dhs25
1X Virgin bellini Dhs18
Total Dhs165

By Daisy Carrington  | 29 Jun 2009

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