La Porte des Indes, a recently opened French-Indian restaurant in The Address Dubai Mall boasts a menu based on popular dishes from the Pondicherry region of India, an area known for its French influence after it was acquired by the French in 1673. Conveniently situated in Downtown Dubai, the mixture of French and Indian favorites provides a rare treat for the palette and one that differentiates itself from other more traditionally Indian restaurants in Dubai.
I ventured out to La Porte des Indes on a weekday. The soft purple and blue lighting of the venue was slightly reminiscent of a disco when I first went in; there were clearly sanctioned off parts of the restaurant for those who simply wanted to have an elegant dinner, and those who desired a bit more of a nightlife ambiance. The staff was warm and welcoming and led me to a table on a slightly elevated center section of the restaurant. It was almost entirely empty. Granted it was a weekday and the restaurant was quite new, I was nevertheless surprised to see not many people trickling in, especially given the fact the restaurant is situated in The Dubai Mall.
I was immediately helped select a cocktail from an impressive list of creative concoctions. These were were made from an abundance of fresh fruit and sugary additives making for a very sweet start to my meal. Next came an array of starters – Demoiselles de Pondicherry, large juicy grilled king scallops with a hint of garlic in a mild saffron sauce; Tandoori Broccoli, broccoli marinated with cheese, lime and lemongrass and grilled tandoor, and Paneer Kebabs, homemade cottage cheese wedges marinated in caramalized onion and garlic, stuffed with tangy mint and mango relish and char-grilled. The broccoli was an immediate hit. At once sweet and salty, it sat nicely on the palette with the condiments of lemongrass and the slightly roasted taste from the tandoor. The Paneer Kebab were just as I had remembered them from India : grilled just right and lightly seasoned so as to preserved their inherent and rich flavor. The scallops were tasty but perhaps a bit more powerful than I was planning for – certainly the result of the saffron and garlic sauce, which was mild compared to some I have tried.
For the main, I chose the Crevettes Assadh, tiger prawns simmered in a mild coconut curry with green mangoes, tumeric, chillies and ginger. These were very tasty and selected from the “Les Indes Francaises” (The French Indian) part of the menu. I opted for one more dish: the Roasted Black Cod. Yes, Black Cod has infiltrated Dubai. You can find this dish at nearly every hip restaurant and each tries to do it a bit different. At La Porte des Indes the dish was marinated in fennel, chilli, mustard, honey, tamarind, rice vinegar wrapped in banana leaves and flame grilled – certainly a change from the Japanese renditions we find so frequently across town. It was tasty.
Dessert time came soon enough. I was mildly stuffed but couldn’t resist to try the Rasmalai flavored with saffron and cardamom. Rasmalai is a dish that is eaten throughout India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. It can be likened to the equivalent of cheesecake without the crust. It certainly isn’t as rich and the lovely milky sauce that floats between each Rasmalai lends a wonderful taste to the dish. The combination of saffron and cardamom added an extra pinch of sweetness.
I would recommend this restaurant and it is a nice place to stop for a meal break when spending long hours at the mall. What the venue is lacking is ambiance. This will take time; the fluorescent lighting surely can confuse guests – some may come for a more nightclubby ambiance, while others want a subdued evening meal. All in all, this restaurant, led by Head Chef Vishal Rane, under the expert guidance of Executive Chef Mehernosh Mody, an expert on Pondicherry’s cuisine, the restaurant was good and worth a return.
La Porte des Indes is located in The Address Dubai Mall. Tel: +971 444388610.