Dubai Haute Spot: Cafe Rouge

Nestled within the Souk Al Bahar is a new cafe-cum-restaurant. Cafe Rouge, the British chain’s first French bistro outside the UK, boasts a charming, cafe-style ambiance and hearty French fare.

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The concept was established in London more than 25 years ago, and has since expanded to over 100 outlets across the UK. While the bistro is indeed a chain, the ambiance that one receives when they step inside is anything but that. Charming and cozy, the restaurant is dim-lit with quirky artworks and other miscellaneous decor hanging on the walls. It has a well-groomed yet rustic feel. There’s fresh bread, French wine, and a heartening menu that features a plentiful selection of French favorites.

It was a Saturday afternoon and my date and as soon as my date and I ventured into Café Rouge we were greeted by the venue’s warm manager. Staff were friendly and efficient and eagerly helped us to a table next to a window looking outside on one of the terraces of the Souk Madinat Jumeirah. Snuggly seated next to each other in a cafe manner, the table was small but had enough room for several of the restaurant’s dishes. The restaurant wasn’t full; rather a few groups occupied the nearby tables and outdoor terrace. It was a comforting scene.

I ordered an open-faced Avocat (French for “avocado”) sandwhich, which came with frisée, rocket, toasted seeds, sweet pickled chillies and crème fraîche. It was delicious. The avocado was nice and ripe and was paired nicely with the salad, chilies and rocket for a taste that had the perfect amount of spice. My friend ordered a Crosque Monsieur, a three-tiered classic turkey ham and Gruyère cheese sandwich with Dijon mustard. Wonderfully warm with gooey cheese, this is the French equivalent of a grilled ham and cheese sandwhich and Cafe Rouge did it well. We also ordered a few salads – a Super Salad, with roast squash, beetroot, artichoke, chicory, pea shoots, sweet pickled chillies and toasted seeds with lemon and cold pressed olive oil. Fresh and fragrant it was and this is not always easy to find in Dubai. And to top it off, for our dessert we shared a sinful Dark Chocolate Ganache, made with indulgent creamy chocolate topped with chocolate ice cream, and a Crème brûlé, a traditional favorite made with a caramelized topping and served with raspberry sorbet. It was divine.

Finding a good place to eat in a shopping mall is never easy; restaurants are often not up to the standard of fine dining joints. While labeling the Souk Madinat Jumeirah a ‘shopping mall’ is not exactly the right term, Cafe Rouge does stand out from the area’s other food offerings in quality and service. It’s a wonderful and needed addition.

Cafe Rouge is located in Souk Madinat Jumeirah. Tel: +971 43666914