Lots to love about La Cantine du Faubourg
The first unexpected thing that strikes you about La Cantine, as the restaurant is affectionately referred to, is the location. While it’s in Emirates Towers (this neighbourhood is probably the Dubai equivalent of La Cantine du Faubourgs’s original Paris address, Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré), it is set apart from the cluster of other restaurants, giving it an exclusive feel from the get go.
Once through the doors, you can choose between the expansive lounge area featuring grey sofas with scarlet cushions, the dining section, or the leafy outdoor terrace, which is ideal for the cooler months. Billowing gauzy drapes set a few private dining areas apart, while the folding glass doors meld the outdoors and indoors seamlessly. Art infuses the whole space, which works like a gallery where the exhibiting artist’s works are for sale. A signature graffiti-style motif is recurring, whether it’s on the menus, or the washroom walls.
Everything here, from the tasteful décor and smiling, white-clad staff, to the actual clientele exudes an easy sophistication. This is undoubtedly a glamorous place to be in, whether it’s at lunchtime or in the evening, but whomever and whatever is here, seems right at home.
The food menu is compact with a seafood focus, and a limited but interesting selection of vegetarian options. The starters are mainly of the salad variety, but they all sound nice. My request for combining a salad from the business lunch menu with an a la carte main was obligingly met (Such changes to the business lunch menu would come at a cost, however).
The quinoa-orange salad with seared tofu was, in short, exquisite. Creamy quinoa, delicately tossed through with orange segments and infused with a subtle citrus flavour, topped with four precise cubes of soft, lightly seared tofu, and prettily garnished with an assortment of dehydrated vegetable. This is a clever dish executed with an assured lightness of touch. The garnish was my favourite bit, injecting texture and distinct vegetable flavours into the dish.
It’s quite common to be let down by an underwhelming main after a standout starter, but happily for me, that wasn’t the case here. The asparagus risotto was another example of a superbly simple dish done really well. The rice was cooked just so, flecked through with finely diced asparagus, with a few asparagus spears planted on top. The balance of flavours was perfect. The chef here may well be Dubai’s best kept secret! I really appreciated the portion sizes too, which were filling, yet not so large that you end up wasting food on a three-course meal.
For dessert, I opted to go down the classical French route, and try the caramel crème brulee. It turned out to be another beautiful dish, with the almost-burnt caramel richness of the custard offset nicely by a tart lemon sorbet it is served with. And it passed my ultimate brulee test - the torched sugar topping cracked with a light knock of the spoon, yet was strong enough to hold its shape as you cut through it.
It’s not very often that you find a restaurant in Dubai that effortlessly ticks all the boxes of atmosphere, food and service. La Cantine is that rare exception. Even if the menu options for vegetarians aren’t that many, they are good enough to keep going back for!
Veggie Friendly: ✔ Vegan Friendly: X
Pros: Stylish ambience; delicious food
Cons: Very few vegetarian menu options
Price: $$ (50 - 200 AED)
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