Ultra Brasserie: Ultra Healthy
The Dubai Marina area attracts many a fitness enthusiast, its open spaces providing a good space for a power walk or quick jog, against the backdrop of a gorgeous view. And nothing complements a good workout like a nice, healthy meal, which Ultra Brasserie is more than happy to provide. A little café sitting at one end of the Marina Plaza, Ultra Brasserie’s goal is to provide healthy, organic gourmet food so diners can satisfy their appetites without worrying about their weighing scales.
Veggiebuzz was invited to check them out, so I headed over for a light lunch. It’s a small and cozy little place, with clean and simple interiors. The use of lighter colors gives it an airy feel and, as is customary for eateries in the area, floor-to-ceiling windows give you a lovely view of Gourmet Tower and the surrounding area while making the space seem larger than it is. There’s also terrace seating available, though perhaps that’s best saved for dinner or the cooler months.
The menu echoes the sense of simplicity with a straightforward selection of dishes, but going by the descriptions, each dish seems to be packed with different layers of flavor. Quite a few of the items are vegan and gluten-free, and all use organic ingredients. The deli counter also has sandwich and salad options that change daily. On my visit, an early lunch rush has left it picked clean, which is a bit disappointing as its not even 1:30pm yet. Having no other choice, I decide to order à la carte.
To start off, I need a thirst quencher. At Ultra Brasserie, there are two daily drink specials: one vegetable juice and one fruit juice. I go for the vegetable option, a mixture of spinach, celery, cucumber and honey with soda water that’s very refreshing. I’m also offered one of their more popular drinks, the Popeye Superhero, a cooling blend of wheatgrass, spinach, cucumber and pineapple.
The food arrives shortly, consisting of two salads, a main dish and a side. I try the Superfood Salad first, which is quite a mouthful. Quinoa, blueberries, pomegranate seeds, dried kale, tomatoes, broccoli, cashew nuts and green lentils all come together with a dressing of pomegranate molasses to create a flavor roller coaster. Sweet and sour are the predominant notes, evened out by some bitterness from the kale. The kale, along with the nuts, also adds some crunch to boost the overall softness of the dish.
The organic soba noodle salad is served warm, with Brussels sprouts, button mushrooms, zucchini and kale. It all tastes quite good, though the real star is the dressing, made of ginger, sweet soy and sesame. It has a nice earthy flavor, with just a bit of heat from the ginger, and complements all the other ingredients very well.
Next is the main, baked Portobello mushrooms stacked on top of each other and layered with a combination of basil, sun-dried tomatoes and feta cheese, all topped off with a rocket salad in a balsamic reduction. It’s a nice-looking dish with some very nice flavors. Salty feta and tangy tomato are a pretty classic flavor combination, and enhance the already rich flavor of the mushroom. Rocket leaves add some sharpness with their peppery flavor, and the sweet balsamic ties it all together nicely, and works really well with the feta.
Interestingly, both the salads have very generous portions, and are perhaps just a bit too much for one. The main dish on the other hand, is bite-sized in comparison. It’s a shame, because as a fan of mushrooms, that dish was easily my favorite; I just wish I had more of it! There's also a side of chargrilled asparagus with parmesan cheese, which tastes just average. The cheese and asparagus flavors don't really go together.
Feeling full but not completely stuffed, I inquire about dessert and have ‘quinoa slices’ recommended to me. These little gluten-free cakes are made fresh daily and, as it happens, a fresh batch was cooked up while I was having lunch! Soon enough, a warm date and apple quinoa slice sits in front of me. It looks and tastes similar to a pound cake, but slightly more savoury. It has a very rich texture and is a bit heavier than I expected, and the flavor is alright. I can’t help thinking that it needs some cream or syrup to really make it complete; perhaps some honey or maple syrup would go really well with it. As far as desserts go, its a bit bland on its own.
If you’re looking for a casual weekend lunch spot, or a relaxing dinner with a lovely view, Ultra Brasserie offers a healthy option with some great flavor combinations and a deli menu that’s always kept fresh, so you can enjoy a meal that’s good and good for you.
Veggie Friendly: ✔ Vegan Friendly: ✔
Pros: Good food, lovely view & atmosphere, friendly staff.
Cons: Dessert was a bit underwhelming.
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