Haute Restaurant of the Week: Tom & Serg

It was certainly needed. A relaxed place in which to congregate, socialize and work. Tom & Serg reflects what many Dubians so desired. The founders, Arnel, aka Tom, is an Aussie from Melbourne, and Lopez aka Serg, is from Madrid, also saw a gap in the Dubai restaurant scene for something a bit more casual, which could serve as a hangout and also where one could indulge in great food. Located in Al Quoz, the cafe-cum-restaurant takes on the industrial look of its surroundings.

Gado Tom & Serge

The interior has been very much left in the warehouse style from which it originated, with exposed vents, rocks, white brick tiles and lots of natural light emanating in from the large floor-to-ceiling windows at the front. The place has an unmistakably urban vibe and will immediately harken guests back to the cafe culture of New York and London. Tables are positioned on both floors of the glass-fronted venue with ample space in between. Upstairs is normally where one will find guests sitting solo working on the computer, reading the newspaper or in large groups discussing a particular topic. There’s a long bench seating area around long tables as well as a place with sofas and armchairs – an aesthetic layout that lets guests decide where suits them best. Upstairs also has blackboards with chalk scribbled across them and greenery hanging from the ceiling – a setting that complements the warehouse space of the art galleries located in the vicinity.

And to the food. While the menu is not overly large, it is a classic cafe menu and boasts a good range of dishes with rotating specials. It is divided into breakfast fare, which is served all day on the weekends. For the afternoon, there is what is called “PM food” consisting of sandwiches, salads, pastas, creative side dishes and desserts. I’ve been going to Tom and Serg since it opened and one of my favorite dishes is the Our Gado, the restaurant’s take on the Indonesian Gado Gado, which means “mix-mix.” Mixed it certainly is with a wonderful confluence of ingredients including fried egg, spiced quinoa, zucchini, eggplant, cauliflowers, silken tofu, steamed bok choy and gado sauce, a peanut dressing. It is sweet and salty and wonderfully filling. Another dish that tops the charts is the Super Salad, which combines fresh greens, avocado, radish, snow peas, Spanish onion plus ‘random sprouts and shoots’ and ‘good-for-you seeds’ as the menu states.

There is also a selection of delicious piadine – the Italian rendition of the wrap made with thin bread and consisting of grilled vegetables, cheese or an assortment of meats. For those who want to spoil themselves, there are also fries with aioli, meaning “garlic” in Italian. The coffee is some of the best I’ve had in Dubai. Tom and Serg provides an excellent variety of options with such titles as Magic, referring to the ‘magic’ ratio of 1:4 espresso to milk. There is also Babycino with dry milk foam with chocolate sprinkles – for babies as they write in the menu. These names might seem to confuse guests like me who are used to their regular “espresso macchiato” – but ask what you will and the “barista” or coffee maker, will know all and also handle special requests with ease. Other highlights include Ginger Beer and Victorian Lemonade. Do not forget the desserts which boasts such tantalizing sweets as Lemon Lime Meringue, Raspberry Mousse Cake and Baked Chocolate Tart, among others. The Tom and Serg Eclair is a hit. And then there is a little note at the end of the dessert section that reads “Please note our pastry chef is a nutcase so exact flavours of the three treats above will change regularly!” Once again an injection of personalization and creativity. The menu at Tom and Serg is not fixed; there is always room to venture a dish into a new direction and expand its horizons and that’s what makes this eatery so special.

Bulls eye.There is sophistication in Tom and Serg. It feeds the social ecosystem that has become Dubai. Expats and residents are craving originality as they do nourishment for the heart and soul and that is what the ambiance and the food of this place offers. Tom and Serg feeds the body and spirit.

Tom and Serg is located in Al Quoz. Al Joud Center near Ace Hardware on Sheikh Zayed Road. Tel: +971 43388934