This stylish French restaurant and lounge is the first Dubai branch of La Cantine du Faubourg in Paris. It desires to mix contemporary art, sophistication and high-end food within a modern restaurant in Dubai.
The first time I entered into La Cantine du Faubourg I was immediately taken by the stark whiteness of the interior juxtaposed with imposing green plants. It exudes an exoticism akin to venues in South East Asia, but has the ambiance of a restaurant on the French Riviera. It has a wonderful air about it. It’s ethereal nature gives off a lightness and easy-going attitude to eager diners. Then there’s the art. The pitch black scribbles of the French graffiti artist Kokian’s cartoonish renderings and provocative letterings align the back white walls of the open-aired kitchen. It’s not hard to become enraptured with this space.
Taken by the artsy-chic decoration, I decided to try the restaurant one night with a friend. It was around 10pm and I was heading to the airport straight afterwards to catch a flight to New York. We entered from the outside staircase of Jumeirah Emirates Towers and immediately found ourselves in a space packed with festive Dubians having after work meals and drinks, celebrating birthday parties, and relishing a romantic dinner for two. Brazilian electronic beats filled the air. Suddenly, La Cantine du Faubourg seemed more like a classy club then a restaurant and lounge. We were taken by the energy. In just a month since the venue’s opening it had become one of the “it” places in town.
I soon rubbed shoulders with several people I knew as did my friend who immediately recognized our waiter (who previously worked at another Dubai eatery). We were given a cozy table towards a corner area of the restaurant. Tall, green tropical plants framed our table as did contemporary artworks on the walls. It was lovely, but we felt a bit too close to other guests. I eyed the long communal table in the center of the room where several friends I knew were celebrating a birthday party. That seemed the way to do it here: En masse.
Our waiter friend couldn’t have been nicer or more attentive. He advised us on wine as we selected our first courses: Crab-avocado salad with citrus vinaigrette, a sea bass ceviche and burrata with tomatoes juste saisies and pesto. All the dishes arrived with a nice presentation – Mediterranean in style, where the quality and beauty of the ingredients used usually dictate the success of the dish. The crab-avocado salad was zesty enough, but the sauce missed a flavor. The same with the burrata, tomatoes “juste saisies” (just picked); they didn’t seem to live up to the freshness one would expect from the popular Italian antipasto. The sea bass was standard, but its inclusion in a ceviche was innovative.
For the mains, we tried the poached salmon with asparagus and Béarnaise sauce and the seared tuna with ratatouille. The Béarnaise sauce was unusually heavy for the salmon and sadly overpowered the fish so much so that the quality of the salmon lay drowning underneath. The ratatouille was tasty, but nothing extraordinary. Once again, this comes down to the quality of the ingredients used. This is a tricky one for Dubai restaurants as fresh produce needs to often be flown in and used as quickly as possible – a challenge that restaurants in Europe don’t often face (of course, depending on where you are). The seared tuna was fragrant but rubbery in texture. We had some potatoes as a side dish and a salad and both were normal, but not en par with other French-cum-Mediterranean offers in town.
Dessert made up for a lot. The caramel crème brûlée was wonderfully gooey and moist inside and crusty on the outside, while the Panna cotta with blueberries and basil-mint ice cream offered a deliciously fresh taste – the perfect way to round off a big meal.
While the food offering needs some work, especially if it wants to compete with other popular restaurants in town, such as nearby eateries La Petite Maison and La Serre, the ambiance is one of the nicest I’ve come across in Dubai in years. The service is wonderful and the juxtaposition of electric beats and contemporary art have, unsurprisingly, made La Cantine du Faubourg already a hit place in town. Just up the notch on the cuisine and the ideal recipe will be made.
La Cantine du Faubourg is located in Jumeirah Emirates Towers. Tel: +971 43527105