The Vegetarian Perspective

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La Serre Series | A veggie lunch with Chef Izu Ani

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La Serre Series | A veggie lunch with Chef Izu Ani

Its 12pm on Sunday afternoon and two of us at the VeggieBuzz team are in for a real treat.  We have worked up a sufficient appetite (or so we think) for our exclusively vegetarian lunch at La Serre, with Head Chef Izu Ani himself.

We walk through the hotel lobby into the bistro section of the restaurant, where we are greeted by the host and hostess, who direct us to the bar.  As we wait for the chef, we decide to sip on a mocktail each, a Spicy Orange and a Rooibos Wild Ice Tea.  We both prefer the Spicy Orange, which is the perfect balance of mint, ginger, honey water, blood orange puree and orange juice.image-05-02-15-05-45

With Chef Izu’s prompt arrival, we are escorted to a lovely table by the window, and through the huge glass panels that overlook the boulevard, we notice the busy outdoor seating area of La Serre’s Boulangerie downstairs.  We also catch a glimpse of the shiny metallic (not so veggie-friendly) Vida Food Truck. ;)

As we get talking to Chef Izu, we can feel his passion for his food exuding through his words.  I am a regular at La Serre and have tried many of the vegetarian dishes on the menu, however this time decide to leave the ordering entirely to him.

image-05-02-15-05-45-2The first dishes to greet the table are the quinoa salad with clementine (without the confit duck legs), the beetroot and goat cheese salad with pistachio and Lebanese mountain tomatoes with goat cheese and hazelnut. As always, the quinoa is cooked to perfection and the white balsamic vinegar, dried cranberries and clementines bring a delicious mild sweetness to the salad.  The beetroot and goat cheese salad with pistachio is a clever combination of different beetroot varieties along with basil and lightly fried goat cheese balls coated with pistachio.  The different textures and tastes come together seamlessly and the dish is visually alluring with its deep purple and pink tones.

The winner in this category though was definitely the Lebanese tomato with goat’s cheese.  The goat’s cheese was topped with a delightful homemade zaatar, hazelnuts, red chili pepper shavings and basil. This cheese and zaatar combination is delicious on its own, but place it on a large wholesome mountain tomato and you have something even more magical.  Chef Izu explains that the chunky texture of the tomatoes is specific to this mountain variety and makes a good, solid change from the usual light and airy ingredients used in vegetarian dishes.Tarte-flambee

Next out is the artichoke salad (sans wagyu) and cauliflower salad with citrus and almond – if you like both of these vegetables then these salads are enjoyable. Both are topped with cheese, presented well and make good use of the respective ingredients. Once again, the third dish to be presented is the showstopper in this category, the Tarte flambée. The crust of the tart is light and crispy, and is topped with a smoky tomato and caramelized onion base, a few touches of buffalo mozzarella, cherry tomatoes and herbs.  I am convinced that this deliciousness creates an involuntary reaction to reach for another slice, which we all do of course!image-05-02-15-05-45-10

On the chef’s request, the delicious vegetable soup of the day from the Boulangerie is brought upstairs for us.  The consistency is perfect and vegetable flavours shine through nicely.  Then, after an in-depth rice inspired conversation about the aging process in Italy, Chef Izu summons the mushroom risotto. Already intrigued by this new knowledge, we have high expectations for the risotto, which he explains is made without any added cream; just butter and cheese.  After biting through the perfect al dente texture of the delicate rice scattered with mushrooms, we are more than convinced of the quality and flavour. The rice is well worth its praise (and cost), and we polish it off, but there is still more to come…

Just as we are reaching our saturation point, the tomato and mozzarella tortelli arrives with drizzles of pesto and truffle oil beautifully decorating the plate.  We indulge in the bite-sized envelopes of perfectly cooked pasta stuffed with a delicious herbed mix of tomato and mozzarella. This was a simple yet superb combination of flavours. The Provençale style aubergine ravioli arrives around shortly thereafter, and boasts the same elegance. The warm aubergine filling coated with soft ravioli immersed in Provençale sauce is another delight for the senses.passionfruit-cheesecake

Alas the time has come to think about a sweet ending to this feast. Chez Izu insists we try the cheesecake and of course we happily oblige, even more so when he describes the passion fruit flavour. The fromage blanc, dotted with vanilla, makes the cheesecake perfectly smooth and moist, and the top layer of passion fruit adds a silky and slightly tangy component.  We end the meal with a warm chocolate mousse served with malt ice cream; an ideal pairing of warm and cold, a pleasantly fluffy way to round off the meal.


This article describes the meal itself, but click here for the in depth interview with Chef Izu!

Click here for La Serre's Lentil Salad Recipe

Click here for La Serre's Quinoa Salad Recipe

Note: As disclosed above, I was invited for this particular meal by the restaurant, however being a regular, the views expressed are mostly definitely genuine smiley



Veggie Friendly: ✔  Vegan Friendly: ✔
Pros: Very good vegetarian selection, quality produce and attentive staff.  Good vegan selection with a few minor substitutions.
Cons: Hard to find cons, but it would be nice if we could order Boulangerie items in the Bistro.
Price: $$$ (200 - 500 AED)

Average price for 1 guest without alcohol

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