One Life, Many Choices
As I’m looking around at the salad options at One Life Kitchen and Café, my attention is drawn to a series of clipboards mounted along one wall. Each clipboard has a little poster with a fun image and some text related to coffee, such as a picture of a curled mustache (Turkish) and a cow staring out at you (latte). I smile as I realize this is the coffee menu, and it’s the first of many smiles during the course of my brunch there.
One Life is located at the still fairly new Dubai Design District, which has a few more food outlets coming up in the future. It’s got a very relaxed and fun look to it, with glass walls, some quirky seating and a ‘grassy’ sign on one wall depicting the café’s logo. For the present at least, One Life is the place to go for office lunches, and as the afternoon wears on the place becomes packed. It’s a good thing we went there early.
The concept at One Life is pretty simple. All the dishes of the day are set up at the counter and you can take your pick from an array of salads, stews and sandwiches. There’s also a separate breakfast menu that’s available all day.
All the salads look so good that it’s hard to choose just a few, so we end up trying a little bit of them all (except the Greek Salad). Pickled Beetroot and Blue Cheese wows our taste buds with a sweet and tangy combination that’s offset by the sharp cheese, and the Roasted Veggie Salad combines different flavor notes (including sweet potato, onion and rocket) perfectly. Afghani Eggplant, grilled and served with pomegranate seeds and yogurt dressing, has a good play on textures, while Freekeh and Fig is bursting with fresh flavors, using several ingredients that aren’t common fare in most restaurants. Last but certainly not least is Garlic Broccoli, which is really just a flavor explosion and the one salad that we really can’t get enough of.
There is only one vegetarian stew, but we figure it’s hard to go wrong with Portobello Mushroom and Potato (cooked in non-alcoholic wine). It’s served with a side of either brown rice or mashed potatoes, along with bread. This dish just isn’t as strong as the salads, though, and it doesn’t have the rich and comforting flavor that might be expected from a stew.
Of course, a brunch wouldn’t really be complete without some breakfast food, so we order a shakshoumi, One Life’s variation on a shakshouka (the original is available too, of course) that has grilled halloumi and a zingy basil pesto. We’ll definitely need to come back for breakfast some time, as this dish might just be the best way to start the day! Two equally gorgeous looking bowls follow soon after: one with oats that have a mellow maple syrup flavor and the other with a coconut flavored chia pudding.
By this point, the lunchtime crowd is starting to build and we notice that the dessert counter, previously empty, has been stocked. There’s the vegan and gluten-free Caramel Slice made with layers of chocolate, nuts and a vegan date ‘caramel’, and flourless Orange and Almond Cake. Both desserts are also sugar-free, and the Caramel Slice is probably the best vegan dessert we’ve ever eaten. The orange cake, however, ends up being just a bit too sweet, despite the absence of sugar.
While Dubai Design District isn’t exactly a regular destination for us, One Life gives us plenty of reasons to go back. As more food outlets pop up in that area, we’re hopeful that One Life will continue to be a hot spot thanks to its delicious flavors and fun, casual vibe.
Veggie Friendly: ✔ Vegan Friendly: ✔
Pros: Great concept, good atmosphere, lots of good veggie options
Cons: Could use some more warm vegetarian dishes, Portobello and Potato stew not that great
Price: $$ (50 - 200 AED)
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