Restaurant review: French finesse and simplicity at Aubaine in Dubai

After opening in January in The Dubai Mall, the London-born French cafe Aubaine has already had enough success to warrant a second location, scheduled to open in City Walk early next month. Aubaine puts forth an impressive effort to live up to its philosophy: “simplicité c’est beauté” (simplicity is beauty). The menu is filled with […]

After opening in January in The Dubai Mall, the London-born French cafe Aubaine has already had enough success to warrant a second location, scheduled to open in City Walk early next month.

Aubaine puts forth an impressive effort to live up to its philosophy: “simplicité c’est beauté” (simplicity is beauty).

The menu is filled with classic French cafe cuisine. The food is simple, but has an elegant, sophisticated finesse for which the French are so well known. The cafe is located next to Bloomingdale’s at the mall’s main entrance and has two separate seating areas, plus an outdoor terrace, although your view of cars dropping people off at the mall is not exactly relaxing.

Service was disjointed when we visited; I lost track of the number of waiters who approached us at different times to take our drink orders. Unfortunately, the one who actually did take the order must have been distracted on the way to retrieve them as they showed up far too late.

Our salmon tartare came atop a broccoli purée – a creamy mass that works well with the fleshy salmon. It’s classic, simple and tasty. But we felt the dollops of lemon coulis on the plate were a misstep – the ­chemical-like flavour rendered it inedible.

The chilli and paprika-dusted calamari was impressive and proved to be my favourite dish of the day. Piled high with fresh, red chillies and spring onions, it came with an inspired lime aioli that was so good, I was tempted to spread it across everything that came to the table.

My husband’s lobster club was a petite, refined sandwich that bordered on too small. Bits of lobster were mixed with an ancho-chilli cocktail sauce resulting in a delicate, creamy mixture that was nestled between three thin, crispy layers of pain au lait.

The extras in this sandwich included confit tomatoes, avocado and lettuce – it’s a dish we’d both order again. My superfood salad was a mix of quinoa, beetroot, roasted butternut squash, spinach, peas, pomegranate and more. I added grilled halloumi to pack in some more protein.

Aubaine’s desserts are a highlight and it’s worth indulging your sweet tooth here. The ­decadent millefeuille was a classic creamy, sweet vanilla custard layered between crispy puff pastry. The raspberry tart – a mound of silky custard topped generously with fresh, whole raspberries – was delicious.

At the end of our lunch, I sat idle for several minutes before having to ask for the bill. Eight minutes after asking (I timed it), there was still no bill. I got up to leave and had to ask for the bill again on my way out – a small complaint, but it left a bad taste in my mouth. If you’re in The Dubai Mall, the food here is certainly worth a try, but don’t expect stellar service and avoid it if you’re in a hurry.

Our lunch for two at Aubaine in The Dubai Mall cost Dh353. Reviewed meals are paid for by The National and conducted incognito

sjohnson@thenational.ae

Source: art & life

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